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Grant award for promising scientists

26 January 2011


Two of the University’s most promising young scientists have been awarded a major international grant designed to kick-start pioneering research in understanding and treating mental illness.

Dr Xavier Caseras and Dr Liz Forty, based in the School of Medicine’s MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, have been awarded a prestigious NARSAD Young Investigator Grant.

NARSAD – The Brain and Behaviour Research Fund raise money from donors around the world and invest in the most promising research projects in mental health.

The grants are designed to help the best and brightest scientific minds unravel the complexities of schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and childhood disorders that include autism and ADHD.

Their award is part of a major $12.6M package of grants awarded worldwide. Each researcher will each receive up to $60,000 over two years to examine brain and behaviour research into conditions like schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder.

Dr Xavier CaserasDr Xavier Caseras

With his grant Dr Xavier Caseras will seek a deeper insight into the mechanisms of bipolar disorder through the study of healthy first-degree relatives of bipolar patients. Results of his study will help identify abnormalities in the structure and function of neural systems that might be characteristic of bipolar disorder and may also provide information about resilience factors in genetically at-risk but healthy populations.

Dr Liz Forty will investigate co-existing genetic susceptibility to bipolar disorder and migraine, based on recent observations that support a partially shared genetic contribution to bipolar disorder and migraine.

Dr Herbert Meltzer of Vanderbilt University who led The Young Investigator selection process said: "Experience has demonstrated that support for the NARSAD Young Investigator program is the most effective way to further the massive effort needed to conquer the mental disorders that plague humanity. This is especially important now because of the reduced ability of governments, industry, and academic medical centres to fund research and treatment programs."

The Cardiff scientists join some of the world’s leading research institutions from over six continents, awarded the prize. The 124-member NARSAD Scientific Council, a volunteer group of preeminent mental health researchers led the rigorous and competitive process of identifying the most promising ideas for NARSAD to fund in grant awards each year.

Benita Shobe, NARSAD president and CEO said: "The Young Investigator program is a hallmark of NARSAD grants, funding the research of young scientists on the quest to find breakthroughs in the field of mental health.

"This body of research represents the cutting-edge of brain and behaviour research. Young Investigators are selected for their innovation and potential to improve the lives of people living with mental illness through enhanced treatments and therapies and a better understanding of the causes of mental illness."

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