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e-BRAIN Team

Meet the team!


Professor Paola Dazzan

Principle Investigator

I have the honour of leading the e-BRAIN project and team. You can read here what an amazing group of people they are!

I have worked at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience for as long as I can remember! I graduated as a Medical Doctor at the University of Cagliari (Italy), which is located in one of the most beautiful Mediterranean islands. I already knew I wanted to become a psychiatrist when I started medicine, as I have a true passion for knowing how the brain works, and looking into how we can make sure we keep good mental health even when going through the challenges of life. I came to the UK in 1994 to train in psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, and did my PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry (as it was called at the time). Since then, I have shared my work between doing research and caring as a doctor for people with mental health problems. As well as a passion for research, I am very interested in promoting diversity and inclusion, and supporting the career progression of under-represented groups. I contribute to this both at our Institution, but also Internationally as Secretary of the Schizophrenia Research Society, and using social media like twitter (@paola_DZN) to highlight important diversity issues. 

When I am not working, I love travelling and have a real passion for faraway places, having visited most of Asia on buses, trains, hiking or on rivers! My other true love, which comes from my Mediterranean blood, is the sea, and you can always see me craving for sun and beaches, diving in tropical waters, lying on the warm sand, or sailing on the blue sea.


Rebecca Pollard

Study Coordinator

I am currently a research assistant on the e-BRAIN study and I am very excited to have recently started studying for my PhD investigating resilience in adolescence. I’m interested in learning what makes some young people really good at coping with stress and adversity, and if there is a link between how different parts of the brain work and the ability to deal with stress.

I had been working as a research assistant for a few years before starting on the e-BRAIN study, I previously worked on studies focussing on schizophrenia both at KCL and at the University of Oxford. Before that, I worked in clinical mental health settings in a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy service and on an acute Neurosurgery ward. I studied my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and a Masters degree in Psychology at the University of Bristol.

In my spare time I really like doing any form of exercise, mainly a sport called Korfball, which is basically a mix between netball and basketball, when social distancing rules allow. I am also an avid traveller and love going on backpacking trips and exploring, hiking and surfing as much as I can. 


Xuemei Ma

PhD Student

As the only child and girl in a normal Chinese family, I successfully entered Fudan University (ranking 3rd in China) at age 18, with the highest score in my high school.

I spent 8 years completing both my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Medicine at Fudan University, Shanghai, which is 4000 kilometres away from my hometown.

I have had rich experiences in various research areas, such as the investigation of endemic diseases, environmental health, child development programs, China-African community healthcare system and maternal-child pairs cohorts.

I am a feminist and have a keen interest in gender, health and education equality. I have various volunteering experiences, for example, I was honoured “one of the 10 Teachers of the Year Award as part of ‘No Child Left Behind’ Internet Support Education” in 2018.


Alice Chen

PhD Student

I have been a member of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience (IoPPN) since 2019. Currently a year 2 PhD student, I am actively involved in the e-BRAIN study, in which we look into the link between early life adversities and adolescent mental health.

My research interests are the associations between early life stress exposure and the development/manifestation of psychopathology, and how the immune system could come into play. Before joining IoPPN, I worked as a clinical psychiatrist in Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital, Linkou, Taiwan. As an introvert, I write novellas and DIY doll houses during my leisure times.

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Svenja Kretzer

PhD Student

Hey, I’m Svenja and I joined e-BRAIN for my PhD in October 2021. I am very excited to become part of such a lovely team that made me feel welcome right from the start! 

I have been working in research and education over the past years and just completed my master’s in clinical psychology at the University of Cologne. During my undergraduate studies at Maastricht University, I discovered my passion for studying the human brain. 

I have a true passion for both neuroscience and clinical psychology. So, here I am! The e-BRAIN project is a huge opportunity for me to combine my interests and develop as a researcher. Plus, I am deeply convinced that the study is essential to work towards improving adolescent mental health.   

My PhD project is about researching why young people develop depressive symptoms as their brains mature through puberty. Most adult mental health problems become apparent in these young years. Therefore, it is crucial to figure out what is happening in the brain during puberty and how this might interact with social factors. I can’t wait to delve deeper into this and to participate in the project!

To relax, I do yoga, go to the gym, or ride my bike. I love to be out and about, go dancing a lot and consider myself a feminist. 


Corentin Vallée

Postdoctoral Image Analyst

Hello, I'm Corentin and I joined the e-BRAIN project in March 2022. I am honoured to become part of such a dedicated team! The involvement of everyone in this project, the positive energy and the kindness are extremely driving. My work in the team consists of processing MRI images of the brain and exploring these images for features that can help us understand brain development.

Before joining the team, I obtained a master's degree in Applied Mathematics in France, and did a PhD on the study of brain images when the brain is not performing cognitive tasks. During my PhD, I worked at the Brainnetome Center of the Chinese National Pattern Recognition Laboratory in Beijing, and since then I have been really looking forward to conducting research on the alteration of normal brain function. As you can imagine, I am therefore very grateful and excited to contribute to such an inspiring and exciting project as e-BRAIN.

In my spare time I like to go out with my friends when the weather is nice, otherwise I like to watch movies, especially Korean crime movies, and I like to play video games of all kinds.
I also like to travel a lot, I have visited half of the countries in Europe by car, and I will most probably visit the other half in the near future.

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Olivia Johnson-Trewick

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Currently I am a Psychology Undergraduate student at the University of Westminster and will be joining the e-BRAIN team for a year from September 2022 as part of my studies. My love for psychology began when I decided to take it for GCSE, which I then continued into A-Levels and now at university. I’m interested in understanding what factors make young people more vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems, and what effective mechanisms can be put into place to make them more resilient to life stressors.

I have previously gained work experience as a teaching assistant at a primary school, and it fascinated me how noticeably I could observe behaviours in the children that are explained in psychological literature. In the future I strive to become a Clinical Psychologist, so I am very excited to take part in such a significant piece of research that poses real life benefits for children and adolescents mental wellbeing.

In my spare time I am a dog sitter, so I like to be out and about with them as well as socialising with friends. I’m also a foodie so I like to experiment in the kitchen or find new spots to eat out. When I graduate I hope to finish off my travels in South East Asia that were cut short because of the pandemic!

Meet the Team: Team Members
Meet the Team: Pro Gallery
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