Not all in your head – What if a simple skin test could diagnose depression?

On Wednesday 3rd July we’re very excited to welcome Dr Parry Hashemi, Senior Lecturer in Bioengineering at Imperial College, London. Dr Hashemi will be speaking about her work towards developing a physiological test for clinical depression.


Serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter, sometimes called “happiness molecules” (Image: Shutterstock)

Serotonin is the primary target of antidepressants, yet they only work for 30% of patients. And, since we don’t fully understand the roles serotonin plays in depression, antidepressants have barely improved in 5 decades. The prevailing theory is that low levels of serotonin in the brain indicate clinical depression but we’ve not been able to measure it – until now.

Dr Parry Hashemi has worked with the serotonin molecule for 15 years, developing exquisitely sensitive techniques to measure serotonin levels in vivo and in real time while also studying conditions that suppress serotonin levels such as neuro-inflammation.

Now Dr Hashemi’s work has led to a groundbreaking proposition: that our physiological response to depressive triggers is written into our DNA, and by knowing where to look, a skin sample can be developed to objectively diagnose depression, finally removing the social stigma of this all-too common condition. Maybe it isn’t just in your head after all.


Parry Laughing

Dr Parry Hashemi. Image courtesy of

Parry Hashemi is an award-winning scientist working at the nexus of analytical chemistry, bioengineering and neuroscience. After 12 years establishing a highly regarded research lab in the USA ( she recently accepted the role of Senior Lecturer in Bioengineering at Imperial college, London, where she completed her PhD in 2007.

Dr Hashemi remains an Associate Professor with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina, and continues the work of HashemiLab in the UK.

Parry has not only been recognised for her scientific achievements, she is a powerful advocate of women in STEM subjects and received the UNC Women’s Advancement Award in 2010.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover speaker’s expenses.

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