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Heidelberg Alumni International

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“I would like to spend some time in Heidelberg each year”


Prof. Dr. Catherine Harmer, Neuroscientist at the Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, University of Oxford/Great Britain

Guest Professur at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University Hospital of Heidelberg from September 2014 to March 2015


When, how long and in what position did you stay at Heidelberg University?

I stayed in Heidelberg University for half a year from the end of September 2014 until the middle of April 2015. I was appointed as an international Guest Professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University Hospital of Heidelberg.


Why did you decide to come to Heidelberg University?

The group in Heidelberg University (led by Professor Romuald Brunner and Professor Franz Resch, Chair and Clinical Director) are leading researchers in the field of neuroscience and child and adolescent psychiatry.  Most of my work to date has involved exploring early effects of treatments for depression and anxiety in adults and I was interested in learning more about treatment and research in young people with depression and personality disorders. This time period gave me a critical insight into the issues related to young people with emotional disorders and the kinds of cutting edge research techniques and questions that can be applied in this group.


What were your experiences in Heidelberg?

I enjoyed very much living in the international guest house in the Im Neuenheimer Feld campus. My family and I made contacts and friends and were extremely well looked after by the Welcome centre.  As a family we enjoyed cycling or running along the Neckar and the wonderful views and sunny days in Heidelberg.  We enjoyed the delicious bakery cakes and breads and the abundance of sausages.

Professionally, I enjoyed engaging with a research group at the cutting edge of neuroscience techniques (including graph network theory, thank you Romy Henze!) as well as clinical approaches.  I learnt more about personality disorders in young people and the approaches that can be taken to understand more about state and trait factors which increase risk.  I enjoyed being part of a dynamic research team and have forged collaborations which will last for many years to come.


Are you planning to come back to Heidelberg or do you still work together with your colleagues in Heidelberg in common projects?

We will continue to collaborate with a number of on-going projects exploring brain maturation and neural markers for risk for self-harm.  A researcher from Heidelberg will visit University of Oxford and spend two weeks in my lab to learn a form of analysis for analysing the brain activity levels across age groups.  I also plan to visit Heidelberg regularly and would like to spend some time there each year, building on these important collaborations.


You will participate in the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin in November. What expectations do you have in respect to this conference?

This conference is an exciting venture focused on future breakthroughs in science and society.  It aims to connect latest breakthroughs in science with industry, culture, media and politics and broadly to break down walls that we face today.  This conference stands out from other scientific meetings and I expect the atmosphere to be inspirational, forward thinking and challenging. The opportunity to engage across science, politics, media and wider culture is unique and I am looking forward to attending very much.


Do you recommend a research visit to Heidelberg University to your students or to colleagues in your scientific network?

Yes, the standard of work in Heidelberg is extremely high and intellectually stimulating.  It is also very friendly, supportive and a wonderful place to live and visit.


How do you rate the opportunities offered by Heidelberg Alumni International and the Research Alumni Network?

I am extremely impressed by the work of these networks and am looking forward to my role as Heidelberg Alumni for years to come.

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Latest Revision: 2015-07-15
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