Barcelona snapshots

Dr. Miquel Àngel Fullana

Miquel Àngel Fullana psychiatrist Controversies Psiquiatry Barcelona
IMARD, IDIBAPS, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Spain
Talk Biomarkers in clinical psychology: A reasonable quest or ignis fatuus?
Date Friday, April 21st, 2023
Time 16:05 - 16:50
Round Table 3 Precision in clinical psychology


Dr. Fullana is currently a clinical psychologist at the Hospital Clínic and a senior researcher at the Imaging of Mood and Anxiety-Related Disorders (IMARD) Group at August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), in Barcelona. He has been an associate professor at the School of Medicine, Autonomous University of Barcelona; clinical psychologist and postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Addictions of the Parc de Salut Mar, Barcelona; Marie Curie postdoctoral researcher at the King's College Institute of Psychiatry, London; and visiting professor at the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York. Dr. Fullana specializes in studying and treating anxiety-related disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). His research interests include applying and evaluating cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) and identifying its predictors and mechanisms of action at the clinical and neurobiological levels. His contributions include the identification of clinical, genetic, and neuroimaging variables associated with CBT in OCD and anxiety-related disorders. He has received continued funding for his research from various public and private institutions, has published more than 100 research articles, has made more than 50 oral presentations at international conferences, and has been awarded several international awards, including the “Career Development Leadership Award” from the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. He collaborates internationally with researchers from the Karolinska Institutet, Duke University, Columbia University, Purdue University, University of Leuven, and the University of Melbourne. He has been a member of the scientific committee of numerous international congresses, including being chair of the scientific committee of the European Association of CBT in 2022.


The development of biomarkers is considered by many researchers a top priority in contemporary mental health research. Advances in neuroscience have generated hope in identifying such biomarkers but are not yet a reality. In my presentation, I will focus on diagnostic and treatment outcome biomarkers. I will talk about the numerous challenges that the identification of diagnostic biomarkers faces, including the use of non-reliable, non-valid, non-sensitive, and non-specific phenotypes (psychiatric diagnoses). I will propose that a more promising avenue for future biomarker research might be predicting clinical outcomes rather than diagnosis. I will show some examples of potential biomarkers of treatment outcome in clinical psychology, focusing on anxiety-related disorders and using fear-extinction-based biomarkers to predict cognitive-behavior therapy outcomes.


[PDF] Fullana MA, et al. (2020). Diagnostic biomarkers for obsessive-compulsive disorder: A reasonable quest or ignis fatuus? Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 Nov;118:504-513. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.08.008. Epub 2020 Aug 28. PMID: 32866526.

[PDF] Picó-Pérez M, Fullana MA, et al. (2022). Neural predictors of cognitive-behavior therapy outcome in anxiety-related disorders: a meta-analysis of task-based fMRI studies. Psychol Med. 2022 Jan 11:1-9. doi: 10.1017/S0033291721005444. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35916600.

[PDF] Giménez M, Cano M, ... Fullana MA. (2019). Is glutamate associated with fear extinction and cognitive behavior therapy outcome in OCD? A pilot study. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2020 Dec;270(8):1003-1014. doi: 10.1007/s00406-019-01056-3. Epub 2019 Aug 20. PMID: 31432262.