ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Centre

Many of the issues that affect us across the lifespan, even into adulthood, have their origin in childhood. Children who suffer difficult early experiences, such as illness, neurodevelopmental problems, neglect or abuse can develop mental health problems that can burden them throughout their lives, holding them back in social development, family life, education, the work place, and even their physical health.  Our research, clinical work and teaching aims to understand and address this. The team is closely allied to the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre

COVID-19 Scottish Model for Safe Education (SMS-Ed)

piccture - 2 virus       Scottish Model for Safe Education (SMS-Ed) - to find out more see Report

The 'Social Distancing - how are families coping?' study highlighted the immense pressure some families were under during lockdown, trying to balance their children's care and education with work responsibilities.  We realised that, if lockdown was needed again in future, an alternative to single household self-isolation could help reduce family stress, improve education and development outcomes for children and allow parents to be economically active. 

To explore this, we developed a partnership with Scottish Borders Council and co-produced, through stakeholder focus groups with teachers and parents, an alternative model to school return, usable in the event of the need for lockdown. We called our new model the Scottish Model for Safe Education (SMS-Ed) because it includes Closed Childcare Clusters (CCC) and Local School Hubs (for more details SMS-Ed Report 26.8.20).   We recommended that, if used in other places, a locally safe and useful version should be developed through a similar process of co-productioni with teachers and parents as part of any local resilience plan in case lockdown were to be needed again in the future. 

Below, we have included some examples of the kinds of disease modelling examples we discussed with teachers and parents to think through what could work safely in the Scottish Borders.

Details of our Disease Modelling

Disease modelling is the mathematical modelling used by epidemiologists to describe the likely development of an infection within a population. 

For examples of how this works in practice, have a look at our videos (see links below). In the videos, children are represented as circles, adults as squares and grandparents as diamonds. the different colours represent risks of severe illness once infected by age. 

Picture - disease model Light-blue individuals are not infected or explosed but not yet infectious.  Other colours (green-children / yellow-adults / orange-grandparents) denote infected or recovered individuals.  If you are interested in the details of how the models were constructed by our colleague, Jess Enright, click on this link - but ony if you like maths! 


See the following videos:

What might happen over 29 days if a single child is infected with COVID-19.... 

...during full Lockdown

...and lives in various CCC scenarios (1. with good adherence of the community to lockdown regulations, 2. children mixing in the community and 3. adults mixing in the community)

1. CCC - good adherence    2. CCC plus child mixing    3. CCC - plus adult mixing

...and lives in various scenarios where CCCs are informed with the support of grandparents rather than other families (1. with good adherence of the community to lockdown regulations, 2. children mixing in the community and 3. adults mixing in the community)

1. CCC - Grandparent good adherence    2. CCC - grandparent plus child mixing   3. CCC - grandparent plus adult mixing  


picture - stay safe, stay better informed






YOUNG SCIENTISTS WORKSHOPS - read more about this

This project aims to explore the process of consulting with children about the research approaches for undertaking a large-scale medical study to explore why abused and neglected children are at higher risk of later physical (e.g. heart disease) and mental health problems. By working in partnership with a group of Young Scientists the aim is  intended to gain a better understanding of how, for example, hair, blood and oxytocin secretion samples and MRI scans might be completed in a way that is sensitive to the needs of the young participants and their families.  The intent is to therefore achieve improved communication of intent, process and outcome and a greater ethical codification of the future study, for which these workshops were a catalyst.


Latest Diary of a Young Scientist - 15th January 2019


Professor Helen Minnis 

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 

Institute of Health and Wellbeing

University of Glasgow


Secretary: Irene O'Neill

Tel: +44 (0)141 201 9239

Postponed due to Pandemic - 4th International ACE Centre Conference - Glasgow - Thursday 11th June 2020

Postponed due to COVID-19 Pandemic - new date to be confirmed 2021

4th International ACE Centre Conference:

Does genetics matter in mental health?  How?

Thursday 11th June 2020

Queen Elizabeth Teaching and Learning Centre, Glasgow

Presentations from:

KEYNOTE - Professor Thomas Bourgeron, Centre for Translational Science, Human Genetics and Cognitive Functions, Institut  Pasteur, France. The genetics of autism and ESSENCE from risk to resilience

Professor Christopher Gillberg,  Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist University of Glasgow/ Gothenburg, and Professor  Helen Minnis, Child and adolescent Psychiatrist, University of Glasgow. Interview – Nature and Nurture in Child Mental Health

Dr Clare Allely, Reader in  Forensic Psychology, University of Salford, Manchester. Autism and the Criminal Justice System

For the first time we have organised a YOUNG PEOPLE’S DEBATE. The topic will be ‘is genetics important in mental health?’ Lead by Laura Wallis from Debating Mental Health  -

Dr Helen Rodwell and Dr Katie Hunt, Consultant Clinical Psychologists, Jigsaw Psychology Ltd, Derby. Neurodevelopment and Trauma with practical tips for parents and clinicians

Conference Programme

booking form (word format) 

Please return booking from to Irene.O' or call 0141 201 9239