Professor Anne O'Hare

Professor with a Personal Chair in Child Life & Health, Director of SMC Research Centre for Learning Difficulties


  • Batchelor of Medicine & Surgery, Newcastle University
  • Paediatric and Paediatric Neuroscience training, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, Necker Hopital des Enfants Malades, Paris
  • Consultant Paediatrician, Community Child Health and Honorary Consultant, Neurosciences, Royal Hospital for Sick Children Edinburgh and Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh
  • Honorary Professor, Queen Margaret University
  • Professor with Personal Chair in Child Life & Health, University of Edinburgh
  • Associate Editor, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology; Associate Editor, Aicardi’s Diseases of the Nervous System in Childhood (4th edition); Author of BPNA distance learning programme - Brain and Learning section
  • Founding member of British Academy of Childhood Disability Strategic Research Group

Research summary

Professor O’Hare directs the SMC Research Centre for Learning Difficulties which was established from a philanthropic donation in 2015.

The Research Centre is leading a project to establish the top research questions that individuals and their families affected by learning difficulties, and the education, health and third sector professionals who work with them, have identified as the research questions that they want answered in the field of learning difficulties. 

The Research Centre works to a broad definition of learning difficulty: “any learning or emotional problem that affects, or substantially affects, a person’s ability to learn, get along with others and follow convention” (The Salvesen Mindroom Centre). 

The emerging themes from the James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership include identification and diagnosis, causes, co-occuring conditions, what helps, professional training, effect on everyday life, public perception and statistics to quantify the size of the problem and how well the needs are being met. 

The Research Centre is already working in a number of these areas, particularly for children, young people and young adults with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD and intellectual disability, and specifically exploring learning in academic areas such as reading, maths and handwriting.

Research aims and areas of interest

The Centre’s research framework is based on the emerging key themes from the James Lind Alliance project that include causes, early patterns of development, mechanisms, interventions, support, co-existing disorders, particularly those that affect mental health and incidence, prevalence and informatics in order to ‘understand and resolve learning difficulties through research, diagnosis, assessment, treatment and education’. 

The research group engages with academic and clinical colleagues working in the multidisciplinary teams supporting children and young people with learning difficulties and explore biomedical, psychological and informatics technologies to offer insights into the aetiologies and mechanisms in the developing brain and learning, as well as innovation in complex interventions at the interface of health and education.

Group Members

  • Dr Sinead Rhodes - Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow
  • Dr Rachael Wood - Senior Clinical Research Fellow
  • Dr Ai Lim - Research Fellow
  • Margarita Kanevski - PhD student
  • Cameron Maitland-Warne - PhD student


  • Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh
  • James Lind Alliance
  • Department of Health Sciences, Queen Margaret University
  • Occupational Therapy, Speech & Language Therapy, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh
  • Department of Psychiatry, Glasgow University; Department of Psychology, Northumbria University
  • Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University
  • Department of Psychology, Heriot Watt University
  • CATALISE Consortium, Oxford University

Funding sources

  • The Salvesen Mindroom Centre
  • Scottish Government Autism Innovation & Improvement Fund
  • Edinburgh & Lothians NHS Foundation Trust
  • Castang Foundation
  • Polani Trust
  • Well Child
  • Chief Scientist Office
  • Wellcome Trust ISSF fund