Dr Samuel Chawner is a post-doctoral research scientist working to try and better understand the impact of genomics on child development and mental health at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics.
My research is focused on the development of children with rare genetic syndromes associated with risk for intellectual disability, autism and schizophrenia.
I completed an MRC funded PhD studentship in 2015 which examined the development of children at high risk of schizophrenia due to 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome. When I was conducting my research, I was lucky to interview families and gain a greater understanding of the syndrome and the children and families affected by it.
I now work on the IMAGINE-ID project, a collaboration between Cardiff University, UCL and Cambridge University, which studies the long-term behaviour and mental health of children and young people, with intellectual disability that has a genetic cause.
I firmly believe that academic research shouldn’t remain just within the walls of universities and it is important that scientists engage with the public.
It is important for researchers to build strong relationships with the patient community. I have organised patient conferences for families affected by the rare chromosomal disorders, providing an opportunity for researchers to communicate and directly connect with affected families. I work closely with patient support organisations, 22crew, Genetic Alliance, Maxappeal and Unique. I have also contributed to social media campaigns such as #22qAwarenessDays to raise awareness of rare chromosomal disorders.
I am interested in creative ways of engaging the general public in the complex topic of genetics and mental health. I recently collaborated with creative producers from Einstein’s Garden to produce an engagement experience for festival goers at Green Man Festival. I have also volunteered as a scientist gallery assistant at “How the Light Gets In – Conversations between Art, Science and Health” exhibition which explored through art the process of taking part in genetic and mental health research.
If you'd like to speak to Sam about his work, please get in touch.