About Dr. Zerrin Atakan

Dr. Zerrin Atakan completed her medical training at Hacettepe Medical School, Ankara, Turkey and received her specialist degree at the same university. She came to the UK in 1981 after obtaining a British Council scholarship. She carried out research at The Department of Psychiatry in Nottingham and then joined the training scheme there, obtaining membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1984. In 1985 she was appointed as a specialist registrar at Guy’s Hospital in London and in 1990 she was appointed as a consultant at Lambeth Hospital, where she provided care for a catchment area, as well as being the consultant for the psychiatric intensive care unit. From 1997 she worked solely as the consultant for the psychiatric intensive care unit. She was one of the co-founders of the National Association of Intensive Care Units (NAPICU) and was an executive member until 2004.

From 1988 until 2004 she held a weekly clinic for asylum seekers, mostly of Turkish origin, on a voluntary basis. She provided psychiatric assessment reports and provided follow up care and assistance with accommodation and physical health care problems. She has also appeared as an expert witness at immigration tribunals and appeal hearings.

In 2003 she was appointed as the Lead Consultant to the National Psychosis Unit at the Maudsley & Bethlem Hospitals, where she provided specialist in-patient care to patients with treatment resistant severe mental illness, as well as providing a medication review and second opinion clinic, to which patients from anywhere in the UK could be referred. In August 2007 Dr. Atakan retired from her NHS duties to concentrate on her research work and private practice.

Dr. Atakan has been actively involved in academic work, both as a teacher and in research. She was a College Tutor from 1992 until 2000, when she was appointed as the Director of Post-Graduate Training for all psychiatric junior doctors within Guy’s, St. Thomas’, Lewisham and Lambeth Hospitals, a post which she held until 2004. She has also been the main organizer for the national conference of The National Association of Psychiatric Intensive Care Units and for two international conferences at The Institute of Psychiatry on ‘Cannabis and Mental Health’.

Dr. Atakan has continued with her research interests and she currently works at the Institute of Psychiatry as an Honorary Senior Lecturer, on a part-time basis. Her main research topics include schizophrenia, violence and its management in patients with severe mental illness, the effects of cannabis on the brain (through functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging studies) and developing a psychological intervention programme to improve the physical well being of patients with severe mental illness who also use cannabis and other substances.

Dr. Atakan is the author of numerous articles and chapters on these subjects. She also has extensive media experience and, as a result of her expertise in cannabis related topics, has appeared regularly on radio and television programmes and in the national press.