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Schizophrenia Research Forum: Researcher Profile - Timothy Crow
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Researcher Profile - Timothy Crow

First Name:Timothy
Last Name:Crow
Advanced Degrees:PhD, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci
Affiliation:SANE Prince of Wales International Centre
Street Address 1:Warneford Hospital,
Street Address 2:Roosevelt Drive
Zip/Postal Code:OX£ 7JX
Country/Territory:United Kingdom
Phone:0044 1865 455917
Fax:0044 1865 455922
Email Address:
(view policy) 
Member reports no financial or other potential conflicts of interest. [Last Modified: 23 October 2005]
View all comments by Timothy Crow
Clinical Interests:
Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder
Research Focus:
Brain imaging, Cell biology, Neurodevelopment, Neuropathology, Pharamacology, Epidemiology, Genetics, evolution, speciation, Animal models, Molecular and Cell biology, Neuroanatomy/Systems Neuroscience, Clinical trials, Neurotransmission, Electrophysiology, Protein structure/chemistry, Glia/myelin
Work Sector(s):
Research institute
Web Sites:
Professional: University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry
Lab: SANE Prince of Wales International Centre
Reasearcher Bio
Tim Crow is a research psychiatrist who is a member of the External Scientific staff of the Medical Research Council and Honorary Director of the Prince of Wales SANE Research Centre. He qualified at the Royal London Hospital in 1964 and obtained a PhD in the University of Aberdeen in 1970. He is a fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Psychiatrists and the Academy of Medical Sciences. Before moving to Oxford in 1994 Dr Crow was for twenty years Head of the Division of Psychiatry of the MRC Clinical Research Centre at Northwick Park.

Tim Crow’s long term research interests are in the nature and causation of the major psychoses. These illnesses are characterised by the presence of delusions and hallucinations and disorders of thinking and generally have an onset in early and middle adult life. Encompassing schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychosis these disorders are common, affecting around 2% of the population in the course of a lifetime.

In the first CT scan study in 1976 Dr Crow and colleagues at Northwick Park demonstrated that there are structural changes (eg a degree of enlargement of the cerebral ventricles) in individuals who have suffered from schizophrenia. Much subsequent work with MRI scans and in post-mortem brain studies has confirmed this and suggests that the changes are in the cerebral cortex and particularly are related to the subtle asymmetries that are characteristic of the human cortex.

What is the origin of these changes? In earlier work Dr Crow considered but was able to rule out a viral causation. There is a genetic component but the nature has been obscure. Dr Crow’s particular recent contribution has been the proposal that the origins of the psychoses relate particularly to those characteristics eg cerebral asymmetry that are associated with the specifically human capacity for language. This leads to a theory of the origin of psychotic symptoms – that they are associated with deviations in the subtle asymmetries of development of the cortex, and that the symptoms arise as confusions between thought and speech and through the abnormal attachment of meaning to perceived speech – and to its genetic basis in the change that led to the evolution of Homo sapiens as a species.

The work of the Prince of Wales Centre will focus on this theory through 1) radiological investigations of brain structure in relation to the symptoms of psychosis, 2) post-mortem studies of the nature of the change at a cellular level, and 3) investigation of a gene (ProtocadherinXY) located on the X and Y chromosomes that has changed in the course of hominid evolution and may have played a particular role in the development of the cerebral cortex, and the evolution of language and the origins of psychosis.

Dr Crow is author of two ISI citation classics:

1) Crow TJ. (1972) Catecholamine-containing neurones and electrical self-stimulation 1 A review of some data. Psychological Medicine 3: 66-73 nominated on 28 December 1981 with 115 citations

II) Crow TJ. (1980) Molecular pathology of schizophrenia; more than one disease process? Brit Med J 280: 66-68 nominated on 29 November 1993 with 585 citations

Top Papers
1) Sole author papers:
i) Molecular pathology of schizophrenia; more than one disease process? Brit Med J 1980; 280: 66-6
1230 citations by Jan 2004

ii) The two syndrome concept: origins and current status. Schiz Bull 1985; 11: 471-485 460 citations

iii) Temporal lobe asymmetries as the key to the etiology of schizophrenia.Schiz Bull 1990; 16: 433-443
260 citations

iv) Positive and negative schizophrenic symptoms and the role of dopamine. Brit J Psychiatry 1980; 137: 383-386
210 citations

v) The continuum of psychosis and its implication for the structure of the gene. Brit J Psychiat 1986; 149: 419-429
193 citations

2) First authored papers:
i) Crow TJ et al. Schizophrenia as an anomaly of development of cerebral asymmetry: a post-mortem study and a proposal concerning the
genetic basis of the disease.
Arch Gen Psychiatry 1989; 46: 1145-1150 296 citations

ii) Crow TJ et al. Neurotransmitter receptors and monoamine metabolites in the brains of patients with Alzheimer-type dementia and depression, and suicides.
Neuropharmacology 1984; 23: 1561-1569 229 citations

iii) Crow TJ et al. The Northwick Park study of first episodes of schizophrenia: a randomized controlled trial of prophylactic neuroleptic treatment Brit J Psychiat 1986; 148: 120-127. 193 citations

3) Co-authored papers:
ii) Johnstone EC et al. Cerebral ventricular size and cognitive impairment in chronic schizophrenia.
Lancet 1976; ii: 924-926 616 citations

iii) Brown R et al. Post-mortem evidence of structural brain changes in schizophrenia.
Arch Gen Psychiatry 1986; 43: 36-42 528 citations

What are the top three papers (not yours) you have read recently?
Hsiao M-C et al (2003) Dopamine transporter change in drug naive schizophrenia: : an imaging study with 99m Tc TRODAT1 Schiz Res 65: 39-46.

Bruner E et al (2003) Encephalisation and allometric trajectories in the genus Homo: evidence from the Neanderthal and modern lineages. PNAS 100: 15335-15340.

Kubicki M et al (2005) DTI and MTR abnormalities in schizophrenia. Neuroimage 26: 1109-1118.
If resources were not limited, what research projects would you pursue?
Exactly what I am doing - a combination of neuroimamging, post-mortem and genetic studies, and with access and advice on a cohort.
What is your leading hypothesis?
Schizophrenia as the price that Homo sapiens pays for language.

see Schiz Res 1997; 28: 127-141
Brain Res Revs 2000; 31: 118-129.
Cog Neuropsychiat 2004; 9: 125-145.
What piece of missing evidence would help prove it?
Variations in the epigenetic control of ProtocadherinXY or SYBL1 or HSPRY3 that are related to cerebral asymmetry and psychosis.
What is your fallback position?

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