100 years of research excellence at the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience

The Institute of Psychiatry, which can trace it's history back over 100 years, merged with King’s in 1997. In 2014 additional specialisms were added to form the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience (IOPPN). In this article we take a look at the proud history of this pioneering institute.

A proud history

The Maudsley Hospital, the predecessor to the IoPPN

The origins of the IoPPN date back to 1896 when the eminent neurologist Sir Frederick Mott proposed the then novel concept of offering university training courses in subjects related to psychiatry.

It was 18 years before Mott’s idea began to take shape. In 1914, London County Council agreed to establish a hospital in Denmark Hill where research and education would be embedded with care. Starting a long tradition of philanthropic gifts supporting the work of the Institute, Mott’s hospital was made possible by a generous donation from Dr Henry Maudsley. The Maudsley Hospital opened in 1923.

Sir Frederick Mott

Within ten years, Maudsley Hospital Medical School was officially recognised by the University of London. The School awarded one of the first Diplomas in Psychological Medicine in the English-speaking world, and helped to formalise psychiatry as a specialist discipline of medicine.

The School changed its name to the Institute of Psychiatry in 1948, when it became a founding member of the British Postgraduate Medical Federation. In 1997, the Institute became a school of King’s College London and in 2014 it was renamed again, becoming the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, after its remit was broadened to include all brain and behavioural sciences.

100 years of research excellence

The IoPPN has a proud history of over a century of ground-breaking research. Sir Frederick Mott himself helped identify syphilis as the cause of General Paresis of the Insane – laying the foundation for the first scientific treatment of a mental illness.

During the First World War, the Institute pioneered the understanding and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder or ‘shell shock’ as it was then known. It has continued to lead the way in servicemen and women’s mental health to this day through the King's Centre for Military Health Research, a joint initiuative between the Department of Psychological Medicine and the Department of War Studies in the IoPPN’s sister School of Social Science and Public Policy.

Some of the Institute’s crowning achievements since its foundation include:

  • Identifying the neuropathological basis of epilepsy
  • Developing the modern concept of ‘personality’
  • Hosting the first MRC Centre for Psychiatric Genetics
  • Explaining how alcohol dependence is a medical illness
  • Bringing the role of nicotine in maintaining cigarette smoking to public attention

In more recent years, clinical-academics have led the development of Child Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry as new sub-specialities of psychiatry.

Making a global impact

Scientific innovation continues to this day. World-leading research from the Institute has made, and continues to make, a significant impact on how we understand, prevent and treat mental illness and other conditions that affect the brain.

Professor Simon Wessely

In 2013, as a reflection of the exceptionally high quality of teaching and research at the Institute, King's was awarded the first Regius Professorship of Psychiatry by Her Majesty the Queen. Regius Professorships are awarded to reflect national and international recognition of excellence in research, with just 12 departments across the UK having received one. The post was taken up in 2016 by Professor Simon Wessely, whose appointment reflects the special partnership between the IoPPN and the Maudsley Hospital, which has fundamentally changed the science of psychiatry.

Professor Sir Robert Lechler, Vice-Principal (Health) at King’s said: ‘A Regius Professorship is a rare privilege.  It represents a mark of distinction for King’s and is a tribute to the IoPPN’s outstanding academic achievements.’

Professor Shitij Kapur, former Dean and Head of the IoPPN at King’s added:  ‘The Regius Professorship is a wonderful recognition of all that we have stood for, and done, for nearly a hundred years.

‘Our excellence is underpinned by extraordinary individuals, who have changed the landscape of mental health research and treatment.’

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