UofG to play leading role in UK-wide mental health research

Published: 27 March 2018

The University of Glasgow is one of nine UK institutions chosen to lead in the area of mental health data science.

The University of Glasgow is one of nine UK institutions chosen to lead in the area of mental health data science.BigData

Researchers at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing have been awarded £1m to enhance mental health data cohorts through linkage to health, education and administrative datasets.

The UK-wide grants total £10m and are awarded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to help researchers harness the power of data science for mental health research.

Funding for the grants was secured by the MRC as part of the government’s National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).

Scotland is world-leading in the use of routine health data and record linkage for research, and researchers here are ideally suited to transform mental health research using health informatics and data science.

The University of Glasgow will deliver an ambitious data pathfinder project as a first step towards a UK-wide Mental Health Platform. The university has an established international record of interdisciplinary health informatics research in mental health, a well-tested infrastructure for this work, and collaborations with partners in the NHS, the third sector and in local and national government.

Led by Professor Daniel Smith, Professor of Psychiatry at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, the University of Glasgow project will have a strong clinical and translational focus. It will investigate the overlap between mental and physical health problems and will develop a programme of schools-based mental health research in Scotland.

Working with colleagues at the University, Professor Smith’s goal is to demonstrate the utility and versatility of routine data by developing both disease and population cohorts.

Professor Smith said: “We are delighted with this MRC Data Pathfinder Award for Mental Health. It builds on the excellent infrastructure for data science research and data linkage capacity in Glasgow, and is a vote of confidence for our psychiatric research programme.

“Longer term, it means that the University of Glasgow will play an important role in the development of a future UK-wide Mental Health Platform. Our goal is to maximise the use of biological data and routine clinical data to deliver improvements for patients affected by severe mental illness and their families, and we are grateful to the MRC for this substantial funding initiative.”

The research community holds and generates huge swathes of biological, clinical, social and environmental data. The real challenge is how best to select and analyse the data to help unlock the secret to better diagnosis, treatment and ultimately prevention of mental health conditions. These nine innovative studies all look to tackle this question head on, helping build the systems, infrastructure and insight that will help researchers make the best use of Big Data.

The awards are intended to help jump start the sector in preparation for a future Mental Health Research Platform, similar in style to the Dementias Platform UK.

Enquiries: ali.howard@glasgow.ac.uk or elizabeth.mcmeekin@glasgow.ac.uk / 0141 330 6557 or 0141 330 4831

First published: 27 March 2018

<< March