Dr Christopher Buckingham

Christopher Buckingham is a cognitive scientist with qualifications in Psychology (Bsc) and Computer Science (MSc and PhD). He specialises in building computational models of psychological classification and decision making. The goal is to link mathematical analysis of large data sets with the psychological processes that humans naturally use to understand their world. Computer Decision Support Systems (CDSSs) can then be constructed that provide coherent advice by optimal integration of human and machine intelligence.

The main application area is mental health and wellbeing for which Buckingham has developed a web-based decision support system, GRiST, that helps detect and manage risks of suicide, self harm, harm to others, self neglect, and vulnerability. GRiST is being used by NHS Trusts and other mental-health organisations and has now generated a database of more than one million assessments across the separate risks, provided by 3,000 practitioners for over 50,000 patients. Data analysis shows that trained practitioners make reliable, consistent, and valid judgements of suicide risk using GRiST. The mathematical algorithms enable GRiST to provide risk evaluations and associated advice for people without a mental-health background. The most recent research is concentrating on self assessments and collaborative decision making where the carers and patients work together in a consensual team. It requires assessments and decisions to incorporate the different emotional responses, values, and perspectives of the collaborating parties so that resulting actions are based on a holistic understanding of the individuals and their dynamic interactions.

The latest research is funded by the European Commission EIT Health KIC for a project coordinated by Buckingham called ``Self-management of mental health and wellbeing in the community for older adults''. The project builds on GRiST to combine clinical expertise with data from sensors. The idea is the autonomous assessment and management of mental health and wellbeing of older adults living at home. It is a collaboration with KU Leuven, sensor companies in Belgium and Holland, and mental-health organisations in England. A related Erasmus project (1/09/2016 - 31/08/2018) called “GRANDIS XXI - 21st - Vocational Education for Interprofessional Elderly Care of the 21st century” focuses on training needs for carers of older adults in the community. He is also a co-applicant on an co-applicant on an EU Twinning grant (1/1/2016-31/12/2018): “Actions for Excellence in Smart Cyber-Physical Systems applications through exploitation of Big Data in the context of Production Control and Logistics” that relates to his mental-health research with respect to the integration of sensors with human decision making.

Previous European funding has come from the European Union FP7 programme (FP7-ICT-2009-5), ``ADVANCE: Advanced  predictive-analysis-based decision-support engine for logistics'' (2010-13), which helped develop the generic decision support platform running GRiST. American funding has come from the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide and the US National Institutes of Health, with collaborations including Johns Hopkins University and Boston University School of Public Health.

Dr Buckingham is a Reader in Computer Science at Aston University, Chair of the School of Engineering Ethics Committee, and a member of both the Life and Health Sciences and University ethics committees. He also developed the university web-based ethics application system, which he continues to manage.