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Dr. Claire Gillan
Associate Professor, Psychology
Associate Professor, Trinity Inst. of Neurosciences (TCIN)


Claire gained her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2013 under the supervision of Trevor Robbins. She stayed in Cambridge to complete a short postdoc funded by the Medical Research Council, before being awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at New York University. At NYU, Claire worked on computational approaches to understanding psychiatry with Nathaniel Daw and Liz Phelps. In 2015, Claire received the Junior Investigator Award from British Association for Psychophamacology for her work on goal-directed learning in obsessive-compulsive disorder. She serves on the editorial board for Brain and Neurosciences Advances, the new flagship journal of the British Neuroscience Association.

Claire's lab at Trinity College Dublin is interested in developing novel approaches to studying brain health in psychiatric and ageing populations - a key goal is to develop objective tests that can be used to predict who will respond to which treatment. To undertake this work, since joining Trinity, Claire has been awarded a fellowship from MQ: transforming mental health to study machine learning predictors of treatment response. In addition, she has received funding from the Global Brain Health Institute and Science Foundation Ireland to develop a smartphone app 'Neureka' that engages the public in science on a large-scale.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Gillan CM & Seow TXF, Carving out new transdiagnostic dimensions for research in mental health, Biological Psychiatry: CNNI, 2020 Journal Article, 2020

TXF Seow, CM Gillan, Transdiagnostic Phenotyping Reveals a Host of Metacognitive Deficits Implicated in Compulsivity, Scientific Reports, 10, (1), 2020 Journal Article, 2020

Recent developments in the habit hypothesis of OCD and compulsive disorders in, editor(s)Naomi A. Fineberg and Trevor W. Robbins , Future Trends In Obsessive-Compulsive And Related Disorders, Cambridge, Springer, 2020, [Gillan, CM] Book Chapter, 2020

Brown V, Chen J, Gillan CM, Price R., Improving the reliability of computational analyses: Model-based planning and its relationship with compulsivity, Biological Psychiatry: CNNI, 2020 Journal Article, 2020

Gillan CM, Vaghi MM, Hezemans FH, van Ghesel Grothe S, Dafflon J, Brühl AB, Savulich G, & Robbins TW., Experimentally-induced and real-world acute anxiety have no effect on goal-directed behaviour., Psychological Medicine, 2020 Journal Article, 2020

Browning M, Huys, Q, Paulus M, Frank M, Chatham C, Carter C, Den Ouden H, Gillan CM, Chekroud A, Gold J, Phillips M, Powers A, Baker J, Mourao-Miranda J, Stephan KE, Cools R, Dayan P, Hartley C, Roiser J, Schmack K, Sebold M, Kepecs A, Lawson R, Pizzagalli D, Rindskopf D, Schiller D. , Realizing the Clinical Potential of Computational Psychiatry: Report from the Banbury Centre Meeting, February 2019, Biological Psychiatry, 2020 Journal Article, 2020 URL

Brain and Neuroscience Advances, (2019), 2017 - 2018p, Gillan, CM, Rudebeck, P, [eds.] Journal, 2019

Gillan CM, Kalanthroff E, Evans M, Weingarden HM, Jacoby RJ, Gershkovich M, Snorrason I, Campeas R, Cervoni C, Crimarco N, Sokol Y, Garnaat SL, Mclaughlin N, Phelps EA, Pinto A, Boisseau CL, Wilhelm S, Daw ND, Simpson HB , Comparison of the association between goal-directed planning and self-reported compulsivity vs obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis, JAMA Psychiatry, 2019 Journal Article, 2019 URL DOI

Luijten, M, Gillan CM, de Wit S, Franken I, Robbins TW, Ersche, K, Goal-directed and habitual control in smokers, Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 2019 Journal Article, 2019 DOI URL

Apergis-Schoute AM, Bijleveld B, Gillan CM, Fineberg NA, Sahakian BJ and Robbins TW, Hyperconnectivity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex in obsessive-compulsive disorder., Brain and Neuroscience Advances, 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI

Rouault M, Seow T, Gillan CM, Fleming SM, Psychiatric symptom dimensions are associated with dissociable shifts in metacognition but not task performance., Biological Psychiatry, 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

Wheaton MG*, Gillan CM*, Simpson HB, Does cognitive-behavioral therapy affect goal-directed planning in obsessive-compulsive disorder?, Psychiatry Research , 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

Wu Y, Clark L, Ziliolid S, Eisenegger C, Gillan CM, Dengh H, Lia H, Single dose testosterone administration modulates emotional reactivity and counterfactual choice in healthy males, Psychoneuroendochronology, 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

de Wit S, Kindt M, Knot SL, Verhoeven AAC, Robbins TW, Gasull-Camos J, Evans M, & Mirza H, Gillan CM, Shifting the balance between goals and habits: five failures in experimental habit induction, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

Fineberg NA, Apergis-Schoute AM, Vaghi MM, Banca P, Gillan CM, Voon V, Chamberlain SR, Cinosi E, Reid J, Shahper S, Bullmore ET, Sahakian BJ, Robbins T, Mapping Compulsivity in the DSM - 5 Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders: Cognitive Domains, Neural Circuitry And Treatment. , International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 21, (1), 2018, p42 - 58 Journal Article, 2018 DOI

Gillan, C.M. and Whelan, R., What big data can do for treatment in psychiatry, Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 18, 2017, p34-42 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Annemieke M. Apergis-Schoutea, Claire M. Gillan, Naomi A. Fineberg, Emilio Fernandez-Egea, Barbara J. Sahakian, Trevor W. Robbins, Neural basis of impaired safety signaling in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, PNAS, 114, (12), 2017, p3216 - 3221 Journal Article, 2017 URL DOI

Gillan CM, Fineberg NA, Robbins TW, A Trans-Diagnostic Perspective on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Psychological Medicine, 47, (9), 2017 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Tobias-Webb J, Limbrick-Oldfield EH, Gillan CM, Moore JW, Aitken MRF, and Clark, Let me take the wheel: illusory control and sense of agency, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2017 Journal Article, 2017 URL DOI

Habits and Goals in OCD in, editor(s)C. Pittenger , Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Phenomenology, Pathophysiology and Treatment, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017, [Gillan CM] Book Chapter, 2017

Gillan CM, Kosinski M, Whelan R, Phelps EA & Daw ND, Characterizing a psychiatric symptom dimension related to deficits in goal-directed control, eLife, 5, (e11305), 2016 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Gillan CM & Daw ND, Taking psychiatry research online, Neuron, 91, (1), 2016, p19 - 23 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Ersche KD, Gillan CM, Jones PS, Williams GB, Luitjen M, de Wit S, Ward LHE, Sahakian BJ, Bullmore ET, and Robbins TW, Carrots and sticks fail to change behavior in cocaine addiction, Science, 352, (6292), 2016, p1468 - 1471 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

An associative account of avoidance. In Handbook of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning in, editor(s)Robin Murphy & Rob Honey , The Wiley Handbook on the Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning, Wiley & Sons, 2016, pp442 - 468, [Gillan, CM, Urcelay, GU & Robbins, TW] Book Chapter, 2016

Gillan CM, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ, van den Heuvel O & van Wingen G, The role of habit in compulsivity, European Neuropsychopharmacology, 26, (5), 2016, p828 - 840 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Godier LR, de Wit S, Pinto A, Steinglass JE, Greene AL, Scaife J, Gillan CM, Walsh BT, Simpson HB, Park, RJ, An investigation of habit learning in Anorexia Nervosa, Psychiatry Research, 2016 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Gillan CM, Otto AR, Phelps EA, Daw ND, Model-based learning protects against forming habits, Cognitive Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 15, (3), 2015, p523 - 536 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Gillan CM, Apergis-Schoute A, Morein-Zamir S, Urcelay GP, Sule A, Fineberg NA, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW, Functional neuroimaging of avoidance habits in OCD, American Journal of Psychiatry, 2015, p1 - 10 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Gillan CM & Sahakian BJ, What is the driver, obsessions or compulsions in OCD?, Neuropsychopharmacology, 40, (1), 2015, p247 - 248 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Gillan CM, Morein-Zamir S, Kaser M, Fineberg NA, Sule A, Sahakian BJ, Cardinal R, Robbins TW, Counterfactual decision-making in obsessive-compulsive disorder: further evidence for impaired goal-directed control, Biological Psychiatry, 75, (8), 2014, p639 - 646 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Voon V, Derbyshire K, Rück C, Irvine MA, Worbe Y, Enander J, Schreiber LRN, Gillan CM, Fineberg NA, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW, Harrison NA, Wood J, Daw ND, Dayan P Grant JE, Bullmore ET, Disorders of compulsivity: a common bias towards learning habits, Molecular Psychiatry, 20, 2014, p345 - 352 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Gillan CM & Robbins TW, Goal-directed learning and obsessive-compulsive disorder, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 5, (369), 2014, p1655- Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Gillan CM, Morein-Zamir S, Urcelay GP, Sule A, Voon V, Apergis-Schoute A, Fineberg NA, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW, Enhanced avoidance habits in obsessive-compulsive disorder, Biological Psychiatry, 75, (8), 2014, p631 - 638 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Gillan CM, Morein-Zamir S, Durieux, A, Fineberg NA, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW, Obsessive-compulsive disorder patients have a reduced sense of control on the illusion of control task, Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 2014, p204- Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Fineberg NA, Chamberlain SR, Goudriaan AE, Stein DJ, Vanderschuren LJMJ, Gillan CM, Shekar S, Gorwood PAPM, Voon V, Morein-Zamir S, Denys D, Sahakian BJ, Moeller GF, Robbins TW, Potenza MN, New Developments in Human Neurocognition: Clinical, Genetic and Brain Imaging Correlates of Impulsivity and Compulsivity, CNS Spectrums, 19, 2014, p69 - 89 Journal Article, 2014

Morein-Zamir S, Papmeyer M, Gillan CM, Fineberg NA, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ, Punishment induces an impulsive response style in OCD: Evidence from a motivational go/no go task, Psychological Medicine, 43, (2), 2013, p391 - 400 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Robbins TW, Gillan CM, Smith D, de Wit S, Ersche KD, Neurocognitive endophenotypes; a dimensional approach to psychiatry, Trends in Cognitive Neuroscience, 16, (1), 2012, p81 - 91 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

Gillan CM, Papmeyer M, Morein-Zamir S, Sahakian BJ, Fineberg NA, Robbins TW, de Wit S, Disrupted balance between goal-directed behavior versus habit learning in obsessive-compulsive disorder, American Journal of Psychiatry, 168, (7), 2011, p718 - 726 Journal Article, 2011 DOI

Research Expertise


My lab uses basic insights from cognitive neuroscience to understand disorders of the brain. I was the first to identify alterations in the brain's habit learning system in OCD, which set off a cascade of research in habits in other compulsive disorders. I was awarded several prizes for this work, including the Young Investigator Award from the British Association for Psychopharmacology and a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship. This programme established me as an internationally recognised researcher; I serve as a journal reviewer for >30 journals including PNAS, JAMA Psychiatry and eLife. I am on the editorial board of eLife and Brain and Neurosciences Advances. I have spoken at Colloquia at >30 universities and research institutes, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, UCL, ETH Zurich, Cambridge & Oxford, have spoken at >20 conferences and chaired 2 symposia. I was profiled as one of the Top 30 Thinkers under 30 in Pacific Standard (2014). My work has featured in three independent BBC documentaries, a radio interview with the BBC world service (2017), articles in New Scientist, Scientific American, the Guardian and Sunday Times. My lab at Trinity seeks above all to develop new methods that can move the field of psychiatry beyond small sample, case control research designs towards large-scale longitudinal designs that lend themselves to clinical translation. Among the methods I have developed, one focused on conducting large-scale cognitive psychiatry projects via the Internet (Gillan et al., eLife, 2016; >190 citations; featured in an article in Scientific American, 2017). I have used this approach to show that transdiagnostic and dimensional understanding of mental health are more biologically valid than our system of categorical diagnoses (Gillan et al., JAMA Psychiatry, 2019; Highest ranked journal in psychiatry). Numerous spin-out collaborations at universities around the world have ensued, including University College London, where we examined the link between anxiety, depression and meta-cognitive processing in ~1000 subjects tested online (Rouault*, Seow*at al., Biological Psychiatry, 2018), and Princeton University, where we recently identified a pattern of enhanced deliberation that characterised 'Social Withdrawal' (Hunter et al., in revision at Nature Human Behaviour). The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) recruited me to take part in a closed-door workshop on Computational Psychiatry in Washington, DC which helped set their funding agenda and I served as a panellist on this R21 grant scheme in 2019 and 2020. Most recently, I joined the advisory board of the Wellcome Trusts new £200 million Mental Health Priority Area. I have earned €2,781,893 in grant funding since joining Trinity three years ago, including an ERC Starting Grant and SFI Frontiers for the Future award. My lab has used these funds to invest in a diverse range of novel and high-risk methods, for example developing a smartphone app ( for large-scale dementia detection and mental health research and outreach (>1.5K registrations in its first month, uptake in 50 countries), analysing natural language extracted from social media and an industry partnership with Dublin-based Silvercloud Health who supply CBT to major healthcare systems around the world. With a focus on using mechanistic insights from cognitive neuroscience to deliver on precision medicine for mental health, I take a big data approach that uses rich environmental, cognitive and neural data and their interactions to understand what puts someone at risk of mental illness, to predict crises before they happen, or to decide on what treatment is best for whom. This programme, I believe, has the best chance of translating fundamental research insights to the clinic, allowing us to predict, prevent and treatment mental illness more effectively and at a global scale. This is the long-term goal of my lab.


  • Title
    • The DETECT project Developing a global infrastructure for digital brain health research at GBHI
  • Funding Agency
    • Global Brain Health Institute
  • Date From
    • 01/2018
  • Date To
    • 01/2020
  • Title
    • A computational approach to identifying trans-diagnostic predictors of antidepressant response
  • Summary
    • Many patients with depression do not respond to their first drug treatment; it often takes several attempts before something works. This lack of precision means that patients suffer through months of ineffective treatment before getting any relief. I aim to improve matters by developing a tool that can be used to estimate a person's likelihood of benefitting from a range of treatments, based on a set of clinical, demographic and cognitive data, which are designed to be feasible to collect in a clinical setting. In order to develop this algorithm, using a technique called machine learning, we need lots of data. Specifically, we need to collect data from hundreds of individuals who are starting out on a new antidepressant treatment and follow their progress over several weeks. To achieve this, I will take this study out of the laboratory and into people's homes via the Internet. Once the algorithm has been trained using data collected online, we will test how well it performs in three local clinics. If successful, this project might one day revolutionise how we assign personalised treatments to individuals suffering from mental health problems.
  • Funding Agency
    • MQ
  • Date From
    • 2017
  • Date To
    • 2020
  • Title
    • A neurocomputational investigation of Pavlovian-instrumental interactions in avoidance
  • Funding Agency
    • Wellcome Trust
  • Date From
    • 2013
  • Date To
    • 2017


computational psychiatry; MACHINE LEARNING



Advisory Board for the Wellcome Trust Mental Health Priority Area 2020

Advisory Board: It Get's Brighter (UK mental health charity) 2017

Editorial Board at eLife 2020

Editorial Board: Brain and Neuroscience Advances (journal) 2018

NIMH Computational Psychiatry Working Group. NIMH, Bethesda, USA. 2017

International computational psychiatry consensus statement working group. Banbury Meeting, Cold Spring Harbour, USA. 2019

Grant Review: National Institute of Mental Health (NIIMH), R21 scheme 2020

Grant Review: Medical Research Council (MRC), UK 2018

Grant Review: European Research Council (ERC), Consolidator scheme 2019

Grant Review: Marie Curie 2016

Grant Review: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 2019

Journal Peer Review: American Journal of Psychiatry 2019

Journal Peer Review: Behavior, Research and Therapy 2018

Journal Peer Review: Behavioural Brain Research 2014

Journal Peer Review: Biological Psychiatry 2020

Journal Peer Review: British Journal of Psychiatry 2013

Journal Peer Review: Clinical Psychological Science 2013

Journal Peer Review: Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience 2015

Journal Peer Review: Cognition and Emotion 2014

Journal Peer Review: Current Biology 2016

Journal Peer Review: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 2017

Journal Peer Review: Depression and Anxiety 2015

Journal Peer Review: eLife 2017

Journal Peer Review: European Journal of Neuroscience 2012

Journal Peer Review: Human Brain Mapping 2013

Journal Peer Review: JAMA psychiatry 2018

Journal Peer Reviewer: Journal of Behavioral Addictions 2012

Journal Peer Review: Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science 2013

Journal Peer Review: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 2017

Journal Peer Review: Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders 2015

Journal Peer Review: Journal of Psychiatry and Clinical Practice 2013

Journal Peer Review: Molecular Psychiatry 2017

Journal Peer Review: Nature Human Behavior 2019

Journal Peer Review: Neuroimage: Clinical 2017

Journal Peer Review: Neuropsychopharmacology 2016

Journal Peer Review: Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 2014

Journal Peer Review: PLOS Biology 2019

Journal Peer Review: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 2013

Journal Peer Review: Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 2015

Journal Peer Review for Psychiatry Research 2015

Journal Peer Review for Psychological Medicine 2019

Journal Peer Review for Psychological Science 2014

Journal Peer Review for Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 2013

Journal Peer Review for Schizophrenia Research 2015

Masters thesis supervisor for ENS Paris MA programme 2019-2020

Awards and Honours

Provost's Scholarship Project Award 2017

MQ Fellows Award 2017

Ziskind-Somerfeld Research Award for Outstanding Research Investigations in Biological Psychiatry, Honorable Mention 2015

Junior Investigator Award, British Association for Psychopharmacology 2015

Postdoc Travel Award, British Association for Psychopharmacology 2015

UK Science & Innovation Network Travel Grant 2014

InSRI Annual Meeting Poster Award 2014

Guarantors of Brain Travel Award 2013

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship 2013

Isaac Newton Trust Public Engagement Grant 2013

Medical Research Council Centenary Postdoctoral Fellowship 2012

Oon Khye Beng Chʹhia Tsio Studentship Award 2011

Downing College Academic Travel Award 2011

Oon Khye Beng Chʹhia Tsio Studentship Award 2010

Medical Research Council PhD Studentship 2009

Cambridge European Trust Studentship (declined) 2009

Hodson Endowment Award 2006

University College Dublin, Entrance Scholarship 2006


Society of Biological Psychiatry 2015

British Association for Psychopharmacology 2013