Mental health network aims to promote brain disorder discoveries

A team of academics from the University of Glasgow and University of Strathclyde have formed a network designed to drive forward mental health breakthroughs.

The Glasgow Psychosis Research Network will bring together expertise from a range of organisations, with the aim of improving the diagnosis and treatment of mental health condition.

Dr Daniel Smith, a Reader of Mental Health at the University of Glasgow, said: “’It is increasingly recognised that mental health and physical disorders co-exist. Finding out more about these processes from a biological standpoint will ultimately aid in disease understanding and lead to improved treatments.

“The accepted way to diagnose mental disorders is based upon signs and symptoms rather than the underlying causes. This is because we have limited knowledge of the causes and abnormal physiological processes underlying these conditions. By working together with researchers at the University of Strathclyde, mental health professionals at the University of Glasgow can begin to dissect biological mechanisms which will assist in diagnosis and future treatments for patients.”Professor Judith Pratt, of Strathclyde’s Centre for Neuroscience, said: “Mental disorders remain one of the most challenging problems for medical research and society. This is due to the substantial occupational and social impairments associated with these disorders, the stigma associated with mental illness and the limited advances that have been made in developing new treatments over the past decade.

“The Psychosis Research Network is an initiative in Glasgow that aims to address these challenges by bringing together the expertise of a wide range of stakeholders and integrate this to provide a unique platform for interdisciplinary research.

‘’Our objectives are to establish a platform and coherent programme for psychosis research in Glasgow, and to strengthen links between academic research, clinical services and industry. We also want to increase the amount of research into mental health – which will ultimately lead to improvements in diagnosis and better treatments – and to reduce stigma by providing education programmes to patients and the public.”

Professor Pratt will discuss these issues, among others, during the “Strathclyde Engages with the NHS: Challenges and Opportunities in Mental Health Research” event taking place this Thursday (May 2) as part of Engage with Strathclyde, a week-long series showcasing the University’s partnerships with outside organisations.

More than 80 million Europeans – 27 per cent of the continent’s population – are thought to be affected by brain disorders at any given time – costing an estimated 325 billion per year in direct costs of treatment and care, plus the indirect costs of lost workdays and lost productivity.

Professor Pratt added: ‘’Psychiatric disorders are hugely complex and symptoms often cross diagnostic categories. It is important that mental health professionals and laboratory researchers communicate effectively to enable greater understanding of the biological underpinnings of component processes. The formation of the Network will facilitate this and ultimately lead to improvements in treatments for patients.”

Dr Peter Uhlhaas, a Reader in the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow, said: “The discovery of biomarkers for diagnosis and monitoring responses to treatments is in its infancy for mental disorders compared to cancer and diabetes, where patient-tailored treatments – known as stratified medicines – are now emerging. By working together as part of the Network, clinicians and basic scientists have the opportunity to make this a reality for brain disorders.”

Professor Robert Hunter, Associate Research and Development Director at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “Health technologies are key to understanding disease mechanisms. Taking advantage of the Health Technologies expertise at Strathclyde, allied with the clinical expertise of NHS professionals, will facilitate understanding of the processes underlying mental disorders and form the basis for improved treatments.

“Academic-NHS-industrial partnerships are key to developing improved treatments for patients. By working together with major pharmaceutical organisations, academics from the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde are impacting on the development of new targets for drug discovery.

“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.”

Related Links

Dr Daniel Smith, Reader of Mental Health

Dr Peter Uhlhaas, Reader in the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology

Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology

Institute of Health and Wellbeing

College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences

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