Dr Andrew Cuthbert
Genetic Councillor, Neurosciences & Mental Health Research Institute
As an experienced NHS genetic counsellor I'm working with Institute members and collaborators to develop effective new treatments for child and adult mental health disorders with the aim of improving patient outcomes. The main objective is to translate key discoveries about the genetic and biological causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders into effective evidence-based interventions delivered through novel, integrated services.
In support of this translational bench-to-bedside innovation, novel resources will be developed to better inform and support patients, families and their doctors.
I joined the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI) in September 2014. My background is in human molecular genetics and genetic counselling. Before coming to Cardiff I worked for the West Midlands Clinical Genetics Service as a Genetic Counsellor where I specialised in helping people with personal and family histories of cancer. I have always had a passionate concern for both the physical and mental wellbeing of patients I cared for. This extends more generally to seeking improvements in care and support for people with debilitating mental health problems.
It has long been know that common neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder tend to run in families, implicating strong genetic contributions to their development. Progress in efforts to unravel the complexities of genetic risk factors for many of these disorders has been boosted by the availability of large well-described patient collections and major advances in genome technology. Genomic discoveries such as rare DNA copy number variants conferring high risks of intellectual disability and multiple neuropsychiatric disorders have facilitated ground breaking translational research programmes at the NMHRI. Funded by The Waterloo Foundation my objective is to apply a genetic counselling perspective to translating advances in genetics and neuroscience into: (i) improved ways of diagnosing and predicting mental illnesses; (ii) more effective treatments and supporting interventions; and (iii) high quality evidence-based information for patients and their carers about the true causes of mental illness. Indeed evidence has shown that by simply improving understanding of disease causation can bring significant patient benefits, through reducing self-stigma, increasing self-efficacy and promoting better, more informed choices. Mental Health Genetic Counsellors are well equipped to help deliver these improvements.