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12 July 2011
Wales’ first centre designed to bring frontline mental health workers and the University’s world-leading researchers together for the benefit of patients, has been announced.
The National Centre for Mental Health will be Wales’ first Biomedical Research Centre bringing Cardiff’s world-leading experts together with frontline mental health professionals to improve patient care.
Funded by a £3M grant from the Welsh Government’s National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR), the Centre will see experts from the University’s MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics & Genomics and Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute work alongside frontline professionals in all parts of Wales.
The National Centre forms part of a £7M funding announcement made by First Minister Carwyn Jones, designed to help Wales better understand major diseases and develop new treatments for common conditions.
As well as mental health, the First Minister announced £1.5M for research into cancer genetics, linking the University’s new flagship Cancer Genetics building with other professional groups to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "This investment will help to cement Wales on the world stage as a place for cutting-edge research and development. It‘s vital that Wales attracts the highest quality research academics, health professionals, students and businesses and to retain that expertise.
"The knowledge gained through a collaborative approach between the NHS and universities will benchmark Wales with the best globally for health and lifesciences research."
Professor Nick Craddock, School of Medicine, who will head-up the National Centre said: "People with mental health problems need help and support to enable them to cope with their illness.
"Mental health problems can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender or social background. That is why it is crucial that we have a national centre that brings frontline professionals in all parts of Wales together with academics to help develop the best possible treatments for Welsh patients."
A key element of the National Centre’s work will be to improve life for patients – allowing patients to be involved in key areas of research, share information and provide biological samples to help improve understanding of what causes and triggers mental illness.
The National Centre will focus across the lifespan of mental illness from childhood to old age including neuro-developmental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism to the major adult psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
The bid was led by Professor Mike Owen who directs the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics & Genomics and the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute.
Professor Owen, School of Medicine, said: "The potential in this area is immense with recent advances in genetics and neurosciences. What we need to do now is to involve more patients from across Wales and challenge the commonly held view that these disorders are not amenable to medical research.
"We also need to train and involve more psychiatrists and other healthcare workers in research and encourage more investment in this area which is grossly underfunded given the morbidity that mental illness causes."
Professor Craddock added: "The creation of Wales’ first National Centre for Mental Health is an exciting development – it provides Wales with its first opportunity to work directly with patients, not only to help them improve their mental health but also to improve our research outcomes."
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