Keynote Speakers

Meet the SSBP Executive Committee 2019

Keynote Speakers
Professor Deborah Fidler

Colorado, USA

Dr. Debbie Fidler is a Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University.  Her research expertise is in the area of early atypical development, with a focus on the emerging behavioral phenotype in Down syndrome during early childhood. Dr. Fidler served as Editor of the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AJIDD) from 2014-2018 and she currently serves as Co-Editor of the International Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities. The overarching goals of her program of research include characterizing phenotypic profiles in specific neurogenetic syndromes, identifying potential targets for treatment and intervention, and developing innovative intervention approaches to address areas of developmental vulnerability.

Professor Louise Gallagher

Dublin, Ireland

Professor Louise Gallagher, MB BCh BAO MRCPsych PhD FTCD, is Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Director of Research in the School of Medicine, TCD and a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in the Irish health service.


She trained in Psychiatry in Dublin, Ireland in St. Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin and she specialised in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She was a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in Community Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services (CAMHS) until her appointment as Chair and Professor of Child Psychiatry in 2011.


She began her research career as a Wellcome Trust Mental Health Training Fellow in 1999. She was awarded her PhD in Psychiatric Genetics in 2004. She specialised in genetic risk factors for autism and study both common and rare genetic risk factors for autism. She has been part of many major international research consortia involved in autism genomics and neuroimaging and has contributed to papers in high level journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Genetics and has raised significant funds for her research through national, European and international grants. Her group has expertise in genotype-phenotype analyses and deep phenotyping approaches including neuroimaging, EEG, cognitive and behavioural phenotyping, neuroimaging and EEG. The work in her group has contributed to the understanding of genetic causes of autism, particularly understanding the relationships between genetic risks, endophenotypes and symptoms ultimately to provide insights into key molecular processes associated with ASD.


As a clinician in the health service she currently runs a service that is specialised in the diagnosis and treatment of comorbid mental illness in autism and providing tertiary opinions on complex behaviour in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders.


Professor Richard Hastings

Warwick, United Kingdom

Richard Hastings is a Professor of Psychology and Education in the Centre for Educational Development Appraisal and Research at the University of Warwick, and the Cerebra Chair of Family Research. His research team study the psychological difficulties (including mental health problems and behaviours that challenge) of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, and interventions and services for family and paid carers who support these children and adults.

Professor Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, MD, MSc, MBA

Mannheim, Germany

Prof. Meyer-Lindenberg is Director of the Central Institute of Mental Health and Head of the Executive Board, as well as the Medical Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Institute, based in Mannheim, Germany, and Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany. He is board certified in psychiatry, psychotherapy, and neurology. Before coming to Mannheim in 2007, he spent ten years as a scientist at the National Institutes of Mental Health, Bethesda, USA.


Prof. Meyer-Lindenberg is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Medicine, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Nature Genetics, Neuron, PNAS, and others. He is has been continuously named as one of the most highly cited scientists in the world ( He is the Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, associate editor of Science Advances and on the editorial board of a number of other journals such as Schizophrenia Bulletin, European Neuropsychopharmacology, Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, and Neuroimage.


His research interests focus on the development of novel treatments for severe psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia, through an application of multimodal neuroimaging, genetics and enviromics to characterize brain circuits underlying the risk for mental illness and cognitive dysfunction.


In recognition of his research, Prof. Meyer-Lindenberg has received awards throughout his career, including: Bristol-Myers-Squibb Young Investigator Award (1998), NIH Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research (1999,2000,2001), NARSAD Young Investigator Award (2000), Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service (2006), Roche/Nature Medicine Award for Translational Neuroscience (2006), the Joel Elkes International Award for Clinical Research from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2006), A.E. Bennett Award of the Society for Biological Psychiatry (2007), NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award (2009), Kurt Schneider Scientific Award (2010), the Hans-Jörg Weitbrecht-Preis für Klinische Neurowissenschaften (2011), the ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award (2012), the Prix ROGER DE SPOELBERCH (2014), and the 2016 CINP Lilly Neuroscience Clinical Research Award.

Professor Chris Oliver

Birmingham, United Kingdom

Prof. Chris Oliver, Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.


Chris Oliver is Professor of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Birmingham and director of the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders. He trained as a clinical psychologist at Edinburgh University before completing a PhD on self-injurious behaviour in people with intellectual disability at the Institute of Psychiatry, London. He is currently researching early intervention, behaviour disorders in people with severe intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder, behavioural, cognitive and emotional phenotypes in genetic syndromes and neuropsychological and behavioural assessment for people with severe intellectual disability. He has published over 180 peer reviewed articles in scientific journals, was previously Editor in Chief for the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research and serves on a number of scientific advisory committees for autism and syndrome support groups. Summaries of research are available at

Jacqui Rodgers_web
Professor Jacqui Rodgers

Newcastle, United Kingdom

Professor Jacqui Rodgers is an autism researcher based at the Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, UK. Her work focuses on the interactions between core characteristics of autism and co-occurring mental health conditions. She has a particular interest in anxiety in autism and the interactions between anxiety and some of the core features of autism, including restricted and repetitive behaviours and sensory processing differences. With colleagues she developed the first anxiety questionnaires specifically designed and validated for autistic children and adults. She is also involved in the development and evaluation of a range of mental health focussed intervention programmes for autistic children and adults. This work is done in collaboration with members of the autism community at all stages of the research cycle. She works regularly with autistic children and their families and is patron of SPARCS, a registered charity, which aims to provide help and support to parents of children with autism and related conditions.

Associate Professor Cristiane Silvestre de Paula

São Paulo, Brazil

Dr. Cristiane Silvestre de Paula is a Professor in the Program of Developmental Disorders at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie and Senior Researcher at Department of Psychiatry at Universidade Federal de São Paulo, in São Paulo, Brazil.  Her research expertise is in the area of child mental health, with a focus on epidemiological studies in Autism. Dr. Silvestre de Paula has a long experience in international studies and 85 peer reviewed articles in scientific journals with and H-index = 30, taken from Google Scholar. She is Handling Editor of the British Journal Psychiatry Open and member of the Editorial Board of the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry. She also member of the International Autism Epidemiology Network – IAEN (since 2017) and of the Latin American Autism Spectrum Network – REAL (since 2015). 

Dr Andrew Stanfield

University of Edinburgh

Dr Andrew Stanfield is the Director of Clinical Research at the University of Edinburgh’s Patrick Wild Centre, a translational research centre with particular interests in monogenic causes of Intellectual disability and autism.   His research has an overarching focus on the translation of fundamental neuroscience into the development and testing of new therapies for people with these conditions.  He is also an Honorary Consultant in the Psychiatry of Learning Disabilities in Southeast Scotland, as well as a medical / scientific advisor to the UK Fragile X Society and to Bridge the Gap, an international support organisation for families affected by SYNGAP1 related intellectual disability.  

Professor Michael Thomas

London, United Kingdom

Since 2010, Michael Thomas has been Director of the University of London Centre for Educational Neuroscience, a cross-institutional research centre which aims to advance translational research between neuroscience and education, and develop practical applications within education. In 2003, Michael established the Developmental Neurocognition Laboratory within Birkbeck’s world-leading Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development. The focus of his laboratory is to use multi-disciplinary methods to understand the brain and cognitive bases of cognitive variability, including developmental disorders and individual differences. Within educational neuroscience, his work includes understanding the role of inhibitory control in children’s science and math learning, investigating the influence of cell phone use on adolescent brain development, linking findings on sensitive periods in brain development to their educational implications, and building links between genetics, environment and education in children’s developmental outcomes. His work on developmental disorders includes current projects on childhood development in Williams syndrome, Down syndrome, Fragile X, and autistic spectrum disorder. In 2006, his research lab was the co-recipient of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education, for the project “Neuropsychological work with the very young: understanding brain function and cognitive development”. Michael is a Chartered Psychologist, Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

2019 annalu-waller_web
Professor Annalu Waller

Dundee, United Kingdom

 Annalu Waller is Professor of Human Communication Technologies at the University of Dundee. A chartered rehabilitation engineer, she manages a number of interdisciplinary research projects developing intelligent and multimodal technologies within the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and is director of the Dundee AAC Research Group ( She has worked in the field of AAC since 1985. She is passionate about leveraging “intelligent computing” to develop communication support for individuals with severe language and communication needs. Her primary research areas are human centred computing, natural language processing, personal narrative and assistive technology. In particular, she focuses on empowering end users, specifically disabled adults and children, by involving them in the design and use of AAC technology. She co-directs two unique interdisciplinary MSc degree programmes: in AAC with Psychology; and in the Design of Healthcare and Assistive Technologies with Biomedical Engineering at Dundee. She has spearheaded the integration of AAC into undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in computing, education, medicine and dentistry. She is on the editorial boards of several academic journals and sits on the boards of a number of national and international organisations representing disabled people. She was awarded an OBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for services to people with Complex Communication Needs and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.