New partnership to focus on breakthroughs for mental health disorders

A collaborative research network being launched today (20 November) is aiming to establish the city of Glasgow as a leading centre for research into the causes and treatment of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The Glasgow Psychosis Research Network (GPRN) will bring researchers from the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde together with health professionals from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) and the public to develop interdisciplinary research collaborations.

Recent surveys have estimated the social and economic cost of mental health problems in Scotland to stand at around £10.7 billion per year[1]. Over 2012/13 a total of 80,479 patients received treatment for psychoses and related disorders[2].

Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder remain some of the most challenging for medical research and society. Mental health researchers and practitioners recognise the urgent need for greater understanding of these disorders and improved treatments.

Andrew Gumley, Professor of Psychological Therapy at the University of Glasgow, said: “The Glasgow Psychosis Research Network is a great opportunity to bring together researchers, health professionals, patients and their families, and the wider public to engage in a coordinated effort to improve research and understanding of psychosis.

“We hope that our work will help reduce the stigma associated with mental health, promoting meaningful recovery through the translation of research into our communities.”

Dr Peter Uhlhaas, from the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, said: “Diagnosis and treatment of psychotic disorders has changed very little over the last 50 years. Because of this, mental disorders remain some of the most challenging problems facing society, health services and scientists today.

“We are now at an exciting stage where we can start thinking about new patient-tailored diagnosis and monitoring techniques that could improve the outcome and eventually prevent the occurrence of severe psychotic disorders. By working together as a network within an interdisciplinary approach, we are in a unique position to advance these objectives in Glasgow.”

Judith Pratt, Professor of Systems Neuroscience at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Mental health disorders have a huge impact on patients and society. Networks such as the Glasgow Psychosis Research Network are critical for NHS professionals and researchers to work effectively together with stakeholders and the pharmaceutical industry to better understand these disorders and develop new treatments.

“Strathclyde’s expertise in disease models for drug discovery and an ethos of developing new and improved medicines is critical for the success of the Network and the development of improved treatments.”

More than 80 million Europeans – 27 per cent of the continent’s population – are estimated to be suffering from mental health problems at any given time. This is thought to cost an estimated £325 billion per year in treatment and care, plus the indirect costs of lost workdays and productivity.

By focussing on fostering interdisciplinary research between institutions, the network hopes to develop greater understandings of the biological underpinnings of psychosis. Outcomes will focus on the identification of novel biomarkers, new therapeutic targets and the development of psychological therapies and early intervention.

The GPRN will incorporate the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology and the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, alongside the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Science and School of Psychological Sciences & Health at the University of Strathclyde and NHSGGC.


 

[1] ‘What’s it Worth Now?’, the Centre for Mental Health (2009-2010): http://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/news/2011_cost_scottish_economy.aspx

[2] www.isdscotland.org/

 

For more information please contact Nick Wade in the University of Glasgow’s Media Relations Office: 01413307126 or nick.wade@glasgow.ac.uk

First published: 20 November 2013