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Dr Judith Allardyce

Dr Judith Allardyce

Clinical Research Fellow, Division of Psychological Medicine & Clinical Neurosciences

Email
allardycej2@cardiff.ac.uk
Campuses
Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ

I am a clinical psychiatrist and trained epidemiologist and was recently awarded a Wellcome Trust Clinical Career Re-Entry Fellowship to examine polygenic influences shared across psychiatric disorders.

Lay Summary of WT Funded Project

New research shows there is genetic overlap between common psychiatric disorders. This calls into question the current boundaries between diagnoses which are indistinct, as are the boundaries between 'disorder' and 'wellness'. We need to move away from classical descriptive definitions of psychiatric conditions to ones which better map onto the underlying biology.

The symptoms used to define psychiatric disorders are not specific to any one diagnosis and when measured in the community they are distributed throughout the entire population. We aim to develop novel approaches to psychiatric classification which better represent the underlying pathophysiology by using genomic variants as instruments to elaborate our understanding of the causal mechanisms of psychiatric disorders, starting with bipolar disorder and its related traits, by dividing bipolar disorder across subphenotypic characteristics (stratification) in a study which will leverage data from recently available ‘big data’ initiatives. Stratifying Bipolar Disorder in a more biologically meaningful way, will hopefully help us develop new therapeutic strategies and interventions.

I graduated in medicine from University of Aberdeen and carried out my psychiatric training in Newcastle-Upon -Tyne & Glasgow. I worked as a Clinical Lecturer/Consultant Psychiatrist for many years in South Glasgow before moving to Maastricht University as a visiting research fellow, completing my PhD in 2009. My previous research focused on environmental influences on the onset and persistence of psychosis and Bipolar Disorder.

I was awarded a 4 year - Wellcome Trust Career Re-Entry fellowship in 2017 – to develop my epidemiological research to include genomic influences of complex common psychiatric disorders. The project “Stratification of Bipolar Disorder: harnessing clinical heterogeneity and the genetics shared with other disorders” is sponsored/mentored by Profs: Mike Owen, Mick O’Donovan, Ian Jones, Valentina Escott-Price & James Walters of MRC Centre of Neuropsychiatric Genetics & Genomics, Cardiff University.

Academic Qualifications

University of Aberdeen        MBChB

University of Glasgow          Master of Public Health

Cardiff University                 MSc in Bioinformatics & Genetic Epidemiology

Maastricht University           PhD (Psychiatric Epidemiology)

Professional memberships

Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

My main research interest is the study of the genomic and environmental determinants of psychiatric disorders, especially psychosis and bipolar disorder.

During my 4 year WT Career Re-entry fellowship we will examine polygenic influences shared across psychiatric disorders using genomic epidemiological methods to test the causal heterogeneity hypothesis, which posits that the clinical (phenotypic) heterogeneity seen in Bipolar Disorder is indicative of underlying aetiological/pathophysiological heterogeneity and that the degree of clinical community between Bipolar Disorder and other psychiatric disorders reflects the influence of overlapping risk alleles which selectively influence shared specific shared subphenotypic characteristics, rather than reflecting the global risk of the disorders ( i.e. the comorbidity hypothesis).

The main aims of the fellowship project are:

1. Identify novel phenotypic measures (stratifiers) defined by research informed clinical specifiers and quantitative phenotypic traits defined using multiple clinical variables generated using computational statistical methods.

2. Examine the genetic overlap between ‘symptom-like’ features present in the general population and bipolar disorder.

This project will leveraging information from recently available ‘big data’ initiatives.