Professor Sir Michael Owen
BSc, MB ChB, PhD, FRCPsych, FMedSci, FLSW
Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience; Emeritus Director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute
I am Professor of Psychological Medicine (Psychiatry) in the School of Medicine and Emeritus Director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute.
I have worked on the genetics of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders for over 25 years have extensive research expertise in the genetic aspects of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's disease, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For the past 10 years, I have also worked on psychiatric and cognitive outcomes in children at high genetic risk, particularly those carrying structural chromosomal abnormalities.
I have studied the impact of genetic risk factors across diagnostic boundaries and developed a theoretical framework to understand the relationship between different neurodevelopmental disorders. I have has also identified specific genes and sets of proteins involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, which are potential therapeutic targets.
As well as continuing my work on psychiatric genetics, I am currently undertaking research aimed at translating recent genetic findings into a greater understanding of disease mechanisms and into the development of novel biomarkers to aid classification and diagnosis.
Honours and awards
I was elected to Fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1997, Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1999 and Fellowship of the Learned Society of Wales in 2012.
In 2011, I was awarded the Stromgren Medal for psychiatric research, in 2012 the Lieber Prize for schizophrenia research and in 2013 the William K Warren Distinguished Investigator Award for schizophrenia research, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics in 2015, and the British Neuroscience Association Award for Outstanding Contribution to Neuroscience in 2017. I was awarded MD (honoris causa) by the University of Birmingham in 2018.
In 2014 I was knighted for services to Neuroscience and Mental Health. In 2016, the MRC Centre fro Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize.
- Academy of Medical Sciences
- Learned Society of Wales
- Royal College of Psychiatrists
- British Neuroscience Association
- International Society of Psychiatric Genetics
As Head of the Division of Psycological Medicine and Neurosciences, I am responsible for UG teaching in psychiatry and neurology.
My work uses a combination of molecular genetic approaches including genome-wide association, copy number variant analysis and next generation sequencing to identify the specific genetic variants that confer risk to psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. For the past 10 years I have also been studying psychopathological and cognitive outcomes in high-risk children.
I am increasingly interested in the impact of genetic discoveries on the understanding of disease mechanisms and classification. My genetics work has implicated specific sets of postsynaptic proteins in psychiatric disorders particularly schizophrenia but also autism and intellectual disability. I am PI of the DEFINE programme (funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award) which aims to understand how mutations in the genes encoding postsynaptic proteins impact brain function and behaviour using a combination of human brain imaging, animal models and stem cell research.
- October 2018 – October 2022, £ 2,960,749. To establish a scalable set of assay platforms against which the phenotype consequences of manipulating the identified exclusive targets can be screened and effects the drug compounds assessed to develop therapeutics for schizophrenia. Wilkinson L, Humby T, Bray N, Gray W, Hall J, Jones I, Li M, Owen M, Van Den Bree M, Walters J, Harwood A, Thomas K. Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd.
- October 2018 – October 2022, £1,021,691. Identify new potential cellular targets (pathways, molecules, genes) for therapeutic intervention in schizophrenia. Wilkinson L, Hall J, O'Donovan M, Owen M, Pocklington A, Walters J, Williams N, Harwood A, Thomas K. Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd.
- January 2018 – December 2021, £310,234. Stratification of bipolar disorder: harnessing clinical heterogeneity and genetics shared with other disorders. (Career Re-Entry Fellowship, J Allardyce). Allardyce J, Escott-Price V, Jones IR, Owen MJ, O'Donovan MC. Wellcome Trust.
- December 2016 – November 2021, £3,008,874. Molecular genetic studies of schizophrenia. Owen M, O'Donovan M, Holmans P, Walters J, Pocklington A, Escott-Price V. Medical Research Council.
- January 2016 – December 2020, €224,500. Comorbidity and synapse biology in clinically overlapping psychiatric disorders (COSYN). Owen MJ, O’Donovan MC. European Commission (Horizon 2020).
- March 2018 – March 2020, £971,676. Integrating genetic, clinical and phenotypic data to advance stratification, prediction and treatment in mental health. Hall J, Walters J, Owen M, Thapar A, Rice F, O'Donovan M, Jones I, Collishaw S, Holmans P, Singh K, Van Goozen S, Langley K, Murphy S, Moore G, Atack J, Harwood A. Medical Research Council.
- February 2016 – January 2020, £250,000. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) inattention symptoms as antecedents of later psychotic outcomes in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and the contribution of genetic risk. Niarchou M, Owen MJ. Wellcome Trust.
- January 2016 – December 2019, £452,826. HiSeq 4000 Sequencing System. Owen MJ, O'Donovan MC, Williams NM, Mantripragada KK. Welsh Government.
- November 2014 – November 2019, £2,359,893, MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (renewal) Owen MJ, O’Donovan MC. Medical Research Council.
- February 2015 – July 2019, £1,063,062. Intellectual disability and mental health: Assessing genomic impact on neurodevelopment (IMAGINE). Hall J, Kerr M, Owen M, van den Bree M. Medical Research Council.