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Lorena Fernandez De La Cruz

Researcher

About me

I completed my PhD in psychiatry and clinical psychology and defended my thesis with honors in 2013 at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. In my dissertation, I explored the clinical heterogeneity of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and adolescents. For four years, I worked at the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King's College London. During my last year at the IoP, I completed a one-year postdoc in the Mood & Development Laboratory at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. I moved to Stockholm in 2014 for a second postdoc at the Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders Across the Lifespan research group at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience (CNS), led by Professor David Mataix-Cols, where I started working with psychiatric epidemiology designs. Currently, I am a Senior Researcher in this group. 

I have been part of the Junior Faculty Steering Group at the Karolinska Institutet from the beginning of 2018, where I coordinate the Career Focus Group. Since September 2018, I am the Equal Treatment Representative (Ombud för Lika Villkor) at CNS.

I am also the Dissemination and Outreach Coordinator for BUP Forsknings och Utvecklingscentrum (BUP FoU) at the Stockholm Mental Health Services (SLSO), Region Stockholm.

Research description

Within the larger Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders Across the Lifespan research group, I currently lead the “Health consequences and lifestyle modification group”, which aims to to study health outcomes, life expectancy, and causes of mortality – including suicide – in OCD and related conditions, such as tic disorders and anxiety disorders. We also study societal outcomes (e.g., educational attainment, labour market participation) in these disorders. We mainly use epidemiological methods in order to respond to our research questions. 

Building upon the results from our epidemiological research on the association between OCD and health-related disorders, we are also currently developing and testing a lifestyle intervention to reduce cardiometabolic risk in individuals with OCD.

I am also interested in the development of evidence-based treatments for the OCD-related conditions (including body dysmorphic disorder and hoarding disorder) and tic disorders. 

Teaching portfolio

I am a frequent lecturer on OCD and related disorders, as well as methodological aspects of clinical research, for undergraduate, MSc, and PhD students at Karolinska Institutet and for psychologists and psychiatrists within the Stockholm healthcare services. I also coordinate and chair the monthly Research Seminars at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Research Center.

I am the main supervisor for three PhD students (Tianyang Zhang, Daniel Rautio, and Anna Holmberg) and co-supervisor for another two PhD students (Per Andrén and Martina Gumpert) at Karolinska Institutet.

Education

PhD in Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, European Doctorate (cum laude), 2013

Facultat de Medicina, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Specialist in Clinical Psychology (3-year training programme), 2010

Consorci Sanitari de Terrassa

MSc in Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology in Children and Adolescents, 2006

Hospital Clínic de Barcelona / Universitat de Barcelona

BSc in Psychology (graduated with honours), 2004

Facultat de Psicologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Research funding

My research has received funding from the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE), Region Stockholm (ALF project grants), Svenska Läakaresällskapets, Åke Wibergs stiftelse, Tourettes Action, the International OCD Foundation, and Karolinska Institutet. 

Awards

  • Josep Toro Award to the best paper of the year awarded by the Catalan Society of Research and Behavior Therapy (SCRITC), 2014
  • PhD Special Prize, awarded by the School for Doctoral Studies, Autonomous University of Barcelona, 2015
  • Professor Mary Robertson Award for Research Contribution endowed by Professor Robertson, Life President of the European Society for the Study of Tourette Syndrome (ESTSS), 2017

Comissions of trust

  • Member of the Steering Group of the Junior Faculty at Karolinska Institutet (2018 – present); coordinator of the Career Focus Group (2020 – present)
  • Equal Treatment Representative at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet (2018 – present)
  • Member of the Collaborative Department Council, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet (2018 – present)
  • Member of the Work Environment Work Group at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet (2018 – present)
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