Steele, Douglas

Professor, Acting Head of Division

1985 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile


Before medicine I studied for a PhD at Glasgow University then worked for a few years as a medical physicist and software engineer.  I returned to university in '89 and after training in general medicine and psychiatry in Edinburgh for 10 years, became Clinical Lecturer/Honorary SpR in Psychiatry at Edinburgh University/NHS Lothian for a further 3 years.  In 2004 I moved to become Clinical Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry/Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at Aberdeen University/NHS Grampian, before again moving in 2009 to become Clinical Professor/Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at Dundee University/NHS Tayside.  My main clinical and academic interests are psychiatry (e.g. endogenous depression, addictions, schizophrenia) and neurology (e.g. movement disorders, chronic pain). Two areas:

i) Machine learning for individual patient diagnostic and prognostic predictions.  Initial work were proof of concept studies using research data now focused on application to routinely acquired NHS data.  Recent success in obtaining MRC Programme Grant funding ('PICTURES').   I am also interested in applying these techniques to other medical research fields, such as oncology.

ii) Mechanisms research, which includes computational modelling of decision making and brain function, causal therapeutic interventions for brain disorders and back translation for drug discovery.  Recent success in obtaining two major MRC grants ('CAPE' and 'PAINSTORM').

 Selected Publications:

Gilmour, W., Mackenzie, G., Feile, M., Tayler-Grint, T., Suveges, S., Macfarlane, J.A., Macleod, A., Marshall, V., Grunwald, I.Q., Steele, J.D., Gilbertson, T. (2024) "Impaired value-based decision-making in Parkinson's disease apathy", Brain (in press)

de A. Marcelino, A. L., Gray, O., Al-Fatly, B., Gilmour, W., Steele, J.D., Kühn, A. A., & Gilbertson, T. (2023). "Pallidal neuromodulation of the explore/exploit trade-off in decision-making", eLife, 12, Article e79642.

Tolomeo, S., Baldacchino, A., Volkow, N., Steele, J.D. (2022) "Protracted Abstinence in Makes with an Opioid Use Disorder: Partial Recovery of Nuceus Accumbens Function", Translational Psychiatry, (in press)

Backhouse, E., Shenkin, S., McIntosh, A., Bastin, M.,  Whalley, H., Hernandez, M., Munoz-Maniega, M., Harris, M., Stolicyn, A., Campbell, A., Steele, JD, Waiter, G., Sandu, A., Waymont, J., Murray, A., Cox, S., de Rooij, S., Roseboom, T., Wardlaw, J (2021) "Early life predictors of late life cerebral small vessel disease in four prospective cohort studies." Brain (in press)

Tolomeo, S., Macfarlane, J., Baldacchino A., Koob, G., Steele, J.D. (2020) “Alcohol Binge Drinking: Negative and Positive Valence System Abnormalities” Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging 6(1): 126-134

Rupprechter, S., Romaniuk, L., Series, P., Hirose, Y., Hawkins, E., Sandu-Giuraniuc, A., Waiter, G., McNeil, C., Shen, X., Harris, M., Campbell, A., Porteous, D., McFarlane, J., Lawrie, S., Murray, A., Delgado, M., McIntosh, A., Whalley H., Steele, J.D. (2020) “Blunted Medial Prefrontal Reward-Related Effective Connectivity and Depression" Brain 143(6): 1946-1956

Steele, J.D., Paulus, M. (2019) “Pragmatic Neuroscience for Clinical Psychiatry”, British Journal of Psychiatry 215(1), 404-408

Geugies, H., Mocking, R., Figueroa, C., Groot, P., Marsman, J., Servaas, M., Steele, J.D., Schene, A., Rhue, H (2019) “‘Impaired Reward-Related Learning Signals in Remitted Unmedicated Patients with Recurrent Depression” Brain 142(8): 2510-2522

Queirazza, F., Fouragnan, E., Steele, J.D., Cavanagh, J., Philiastides, M. (2019) “Neural correlates of weighted reward prediction error during reinforcement learning classify response to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in depression” Science Advances 5(7) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav4962

Tolomeo, S., Christmas, D., Jentzsch, I., Johnston, B., Sprenglemeyer, R., Matthews, K., Steele, J.D. (2016) “A Causal Role for the Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex in Negative Affect and Cognitive Control”  Brain 139(Pt 6) 1844-54

Johnston, B.A.., Tolomeo, S, Gradin, V., Christmas, D., Matthews, K., Steele J.D. (2015) “Failure of Hippocampal Deactivation during Loss Events in Treatment-Resistant Depression” Brain 138(9) 2766-76

Gradin V., Baldacchino A., Balfour D., Matthews K, Steele J.D. (2014) “Abnormal Brain Activity during a Reward and Loss Task in Opiate Dependent Patients receiving Methadone Maintenance Therapy" Neuropsychopharmacology 39(4): 885-94

Mwangi, B., Ebmeier K.P., Matthews, K.M., Steele, J.D. (2012) "Multicentre Diagnostic Classification of Individual Structural Neuroimaging Scans from Patients with Major Depressive Disorder", Brain 135(1) 1508-21

Perrin, J., Merz, S., Bennett, D.., Currie, J., Steele J.D., Reid I., Schwarzbauer C. (2012) "Electroconvulsive Therapy Reduces Frontal Connectivity in Severe Depression", Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(14) 5464-8

Gradin, V., Kumar, P., Waiter, G., Ahearn, T., Stickle, C., Milders, M., Reid, I., Hall, J., Steele, J.D. (2011) "Expected Value and Prediction Error Abnormalities in Depression and Schizophrenia", Brain 134(6) 1751-1764

Kumar P, Waiter G, Ahearn T, Milders M, Reid I, Steele J.D. (2008) “Abnormal temporal difference reward-learning signals in major depression” Brain 131(8) 2084-2093

Rück C, Karlsson A, Steele J.D., Edman G, Meyerson B.A., Ericson K, Nyman H, Åsberg M, Svanborg P (2008) "Capsulotomy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – long-term follow-up of 25 patients" JAMA Psychiatry, 65(8), 914-921

Steele J.D., Christmas D., Eljamel M.S., Matthews K. (2008) “Anterior cingulotomy for major depression: Clinical outcome and relationship to lesion characteristics” Biological Psychiatry, 63(7), 670-677

Steele J.D., Kumar P., Ebmeier, K.P. (2007) “Blunted response to feedback information in depressive illness”, Brain 130 (9), 2367-74

Ebmeier K., Donaghey C., Steele J.D. (2006) “Recent Developments and Current Controversies in Depression”, Lancet, 367, 153-167

Completed PhD students (*primary supervisor): Poornima Kumar*, Victoria Gradin*, Benson Mwangi*, Blair Johnston*, James Currie*, Alex Stolicyn, Filippo Queira, Serenella Tolomeo*, Sam Rupprechter, Georgia Antoniou*


For a number of years until recently I was Module Manager for School of Life Sciences and the Medical School, BSc and BMSc BS42017 and BM40019, “Psychiatric Disorders”, involving course design, teaching and examining of Psychiatric Neuroscience. In 2018 I broadened the course to become "Translational Psychiatry and Neurology" and stopped being Module Manager but continue to teach and examine on the course. I also teach Computational Neuroimaging in the School of Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering MSc module ME51012 "Medical Image Processing and Analysis" and School of Medicine MSc module GM51075 "Translational Neuroscience".  Additionally I teach and examine clinically: psychiatry for undergraduate medical students at Ninewells Hospital.

I am a supervisor for Life Sciences, Neuroscience BS40010 Honours Year projects, a supervisor for Biomedical Engineering ME52002 MSc projects and a supervisor for Dundee Clinical Academic Track (DCAT) Studentships.  I am a regular External PhD examiner to several Universities including Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Kings College London, and I am External Examiner for St Andrews University MSc in Digital Health.  I am PhD Lead for the Division of Imaging Science and Technology responsible for organising the Thesis Monitoring Committees (TMCs), represent the Division on the Medical School Research Postgraduate Committee and Chair one of the TMCs.

For a number of years I was External Examiner for undergraduate psychiatry at Edinburgh University MB ChB.     Previously I was also external examiner on Edinburgh University MSc Neuroimaging and external examiner for Edinburgh University MSc Neuroimaging for Research.  Previously I was an NHS supervisor for many NHS SpRs and SHOs in General Adult Psychiatry clinical training.


Before medicine: I began (’76) by studying for a BSc in Electrical & Electronic Engineering for 2 years at Paisley University doing various industrial placements, then switched to the last 3 years of honours Physics at Strathclyde University, graduating BSc (hons) Physics.  After this I did a PhD in Computational Physics at Glasgow University (Department of Physics & Institute of Physiology) using Electron Microscopy to target regions of animal & human pathology samples for spectroscopic chemical analyses.  The work was supported by a CASE studentship with sponsorship from Riker Laboratories Ltd, Loughborough, Leicestershire, a pharmaceutical company.  I spent a lot of time developing spectroscopy software which was later used by Glasgow University in part-payment for a new electron microscope.  After my PhD (’86) I worked for 3 years as an NHS Medical Physicist in Glasgow (Nuclear Medicine, Royal Infirmary; Radiotherapy Treatment Planning, Belvidere Hospital; Instrumentation, DCPB) then 1 year as a Software R&D Engineer at General Electric Ltd, Hertfordshire, programming a new Radiotherapy Treatment Planning system, an earlier version of which I had used as an NHS medical physicist in Belvidere Hospital, Glasgow. Near the end of this period I obtained Membership of the Institute of Physical Sciences in Medicine (MIPEM).

Medicine: I was accepted to study Medicine at Edinburgh University in ’89 and became interested in Psychiatric Neuroimaging during an undergraduate medical student placement at the MRC Brain Metabolism Unit, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, getting the first version of SPM working in Edinburgh in collaboration with Karl Friston.  After graduating MB ChB (’95) I trained in psychiatry based at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, obtaining Royal College of Psychiatrists Membership (MRCPsych), an MD in Psychiatry & Neuroimaging (Edinburgh University), GMC registration as General Adult Psychiatrist, and have now worked clinically as an NHS Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist for ~20 years with a particular clinical interest in Neuropsychiatry.  My main research focus is quantitative clinical neuroimaging, particularly use of Machine Learning (also known as AI) for making novel clinically useful predictions, and computational modelling of behaviour & brain function to test hypotheses of abnormal pathophysiology.  In 2021 I was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (FRCPsych).

Posts: NHS Medical Physicist, Glasgow (85-89); Software Engineer, IGE Medical Systems Ltd, Radlett Hertfordshire (89-90); House Officer, St John's and Kirkcaldy Hospitals (95-96); SHO Edinburgh Psychiatric Training Rotation (96-01); Wellcome Research Registrar, Edinburgh University and Royal Edinburgh Hospital (6 months 99); Clinical Lecturer in Psychiatry and Honorary Specialist Registrar in Psychiatry, Edinburgh University and NHS Lothian (01-04); Clinical Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, Aberdeen University and NHS Grampian (04-08); Clinical Professor (Neuroimaging) and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist (Neuropsychiatry), Dundee University and NHS Tayside/Fife (09-date), Honorary Professor, University of St Andrews (16-date).   I am Deputy Head of Division, Imaging Science and Technology, Medical School, and Co-Director, Clinical Research Imaging Facility, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.  


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

External positions

Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist (Neuropsychiatry), Department of Neurology, Ninewells Hospital, NHS Tayside

Honorary Professor, University of St Andrews


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