MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics
The MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics won a Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2015 for achieving outstanding “transformative insights into causes, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.”
Under the leadership of its Director, Professor Sir Michael Owen, the Centre brings together a global community of leading researchers to investigate the causes of a number of major psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.
Their work seeks to improve understanding of how these diseases arise; to develop new diagnostic approaches and identify new targets for treatment.
Since launching in 2009 its research has made giant strides in discovering the genetic underpinnings of a range of diseases from Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia to bipolar disorder and ADHD.
Among the Centre’s landmark discoveries are:
- the identification of a genetic link between intellectual disability, autism, ADHD and schizophrenia
- the discovery of the first specific genetic risk factors for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ADHD
- the discovery of the first new Alzheimer’s disease risk genes for over 17 years.
This work has implicated a number of novel disease mechanisms and Centre scientists are now using a variety of cutting-edge techniques to translate these recent findings into new approaches to treatment and prevention.
As well as their fundamental genetic discoveries, the work of Centre researchers has directly influenced policy and practice.
For example, their research has:
- provided strong evidence that cannabis is one of the few modifiable risk factors in the prevention of schizophrenia
- led to a novel interactive programme to help sufferers of bipolar disorder mange their condition
- effected a step change in the way homeless young people in Wales are assessed for mental health disorders.
Creating jobs and furthering education
The Centre offers a unique research environment in Wales to increase participation in mental health research and translates discoveries into direct patient benefit. In the six years it’s been active, it has created 182 jobs and attracted over £90M of investment, succeeding in establishing the University and Wales as global leaders in neuroscience and mental health.
Beyond research, the Centre delivers innovative programmes in undergraduate and postgraduate education and is committed to dispelling the stigma around mental health disorders through a wide-ranging public engagement agenda.