In the first of a new feature, in which we will be highlighting the work of staff at the University, we look at the impact and influence of Professor Eve Johnstone.
Professor Eve C Johnstone CBE is a familiar name in the discipline of Psychiatry. Her work has impacted both her field and her many students.
Eve graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1967. Having seen her first schizophrenic patient aged 20, she was instantly fascinated by this, most serious of all, psychiatric disorders.
The factor that intrigued Eve most was how schizophrenia seemed to strike patients out of the blue. It was this unexplained characteristic of the disease that she later focused on in The Edinburgh High Risk Study, which she initiated at the University of Edinburgh in 1994.
In 1974 Eve left Glasgow for London where she worked at the MRC Clinical Research Centre, soon publishing a breakthrough study on the brains of schizophrenic patients.
For this study Eve took patients to a CT scanner at Atkinson Morley Hospital, one of only two in the whole UK, the other being situated at the, now demolished, Killearn Hospital.
This new technology, witnessed at Killearn whilst studying at Glasgow, made a significant impact on the student Eve, and went on to play a key role in her later research.
Eve returned to Scotland in 1989, taking up the post of Head of Psychiatry at Edinburgh and, in doing so, became one of the first female professors in the University’s College of Medicine.
One of the numerous ground-breaking research programmes that Eve has established at the University, is the Edinburgh High Risk Study. It involves young people aged 16 to 22 who may be liable to schizophrenia because they have at least two relatives who are also sufferers. The findings of this study have made a huge impact on research in the field, with over 60 papers written around it.
Eve’s research into schizophrenia has involved her visiting patients all over the UK - from the East end of London, to the Highlands and Islands, and several prisons too.
On one occasion Eve was called to visit a patient in Inverness on a snowy Hogmanay, leaving her and a colleague close to being snow bound on the A9 on their attempted return to Edinburgh.
In her twenty one years as Head of Psychiatry at the University, Eve has worked with, and supervised, students and staff who have gone on to great things. Many Heads of Departments and Professors of Psychiatry at universities all over the UK were trained by Eve, including Professor John Geddes at Oxford, Professor Stephen Lawrie at Edinburgh, Professor Ian Reid at Dundee, Professor Jeremy Hall at Cardiff and Professor Gill Doody at Nottingham.
Past students have also remained at, or returned to, Edinburgh. One such example is Dr Andrew Stanfield, Director of The Patrick Wild Centre for Research into Autism, Fragile X Syndrome and Intellectual Disabilities at the University.
During his 3rd and 4th year of study at Edinburgh, Andrew was Eve’s Special Study Module Student and now, several years later, they work together at The Patrick Wild Centre.
Andrew and Eve will also share a special day later this year when, on Saturday 5th July, they will both attend graduations at McEwan Hall - Andrew collecting his PhD and Eve her honorary degree.
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