OCD and the Brain – Outstanding Public Engagement Project Award 2023

The OCD & the Brain project was awarded the Outstanding Public Engagement Project Award at the Department of Imaging Neuroscience’s 2023 Public Engagement Awards.

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) affects 12 in every 1000 people, making it the 4th most common mental health disorder. Despite its debilitating effects, OCD is often neglected and carries a lot of stigma.

Dr Tobias Hauser and his team are interested in why OCD mostly emerges during adolescence and how brain development contributes to OCD. Through working with people living with OCD, the team identified a disconnect between the experiences of people living with OCD and the focus of the latest scientific research.

In order to address this, Dr Hauser and his team were inspired to undertake a Public Engagement project, OCD and the Brain. Collaborating with the Department’s Public Engagement team, lived experts and charities, OCD Action and The International OCD Foundation (iOCDF), the project aims to co-develop information toolkits for young people living with OCD and their parents/guardians.


The team have been recognised in this year’s awards for their commitment to co-production. The first phase of the project saw the team work with creative facilitator, Rachel Bower, to design a series of 6 workshops. The sessions brought together Dr Tobias Hauser and his team with young people living with OCD and their parents/guardians, exploring their unique relationships with OCD through a range of creative activities.

Alongside the workshops, the team also held social sessions with the group. This was an opportunity for young people and parents/guardians to meet with the OCD & the Brain research team to learn more about the complexities of OCD research in Q&A sessions.

The next phase of the project is currently underway. Using insights from the creative workshops, the team is now working closely with lived experts from the OCD community to co-develop information toolkits that explore the current scientific understanding of the relationship between OCD and the brain. The toolkits will be launched in Autumn 2023.

The team is also already building on insights gained through the project, by working with lived experts to co-produce future research ideas that explore some of the topics that have emerged throughout this project.

The OCD and the Brain Team is made up of:

  • Dr Tobias Hauser
  • Dr Tricia Seow
  • Alisa Loosen
  • Karen Hoang
  • Joanne Thomas
  • Cassandra Hugill
  • Sian Rose
  • Rachel Bower
  • Leigh Wallbank
  • Cara Gordon
  • Stephanie Cogen
  • Boris Litvin
  • Liz Lindley
  • Many people with lived experience who have brilliantly contributed to the workshops and the co-production sessions throughout the project.

Thank you to everyone who has been involved.

Representing the team Professor Tobias Hauser said:

Tobias and Tricia receiving the award

“I am thrilled to receive this prize! This project is a huge team effort and a true collaboration between people with lived experience, OCD charities, community gatekeepers, creative facilitators, public engagement professionals and researchers. It was amazing to see how everyone came together to create a resource that will benefit those affected by OCD. Receiving the prize is a great recognition for our efforts and supports this innovative avenue of collaboration beyond the ivory towers of science”  Congratulations to the OCD and the Brain Team.

You can read more about the awards here.