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Professor Sir Michael Owen BSc, MB ChB, PhD, FRCPsych, FMedSci, FLSW

Professor Sir Michael Owen

BSc, MB ChB, PhD, FRCPsych, FMedSci, FLSW

Director of MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics; Director/Clinical Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience and Emeritus Director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute

School of Medicine

+44 (0) 29 2068 8320
Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Media commentator

I am Professor of Psychological Medicine (Psychiatry) in the School of Medicine.  I am Head of the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience and Director of the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics. I am also Emeritus Director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute.

I have worked on the genetics of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders for over 20 years and bring to the Research Institute extensive research expertise in the genetic aspects of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's disease, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Dyslexia.

My research has focused on the genetics of major psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and I have made notable contributions to the study of schizophrenia and Alzheimer disease. 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.

I am a Thompson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher and Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Learned Society of Wales. Until recently I worked as a Consultant in General Adult Psychiatry and was knighted for services to psychiatry and neuroscience in 2014.

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.

In 2014 I was Knighted for services to Neuroscience and Mental Health.

Professional memberships

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 second generation sequencing to identify the specific genetic variants that confer risk to psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. 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 behavior using a combination of human brain imaging, animal models and stem cell research.

Current grants

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).

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 1919, £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.

April 2015 – March 2019, £1,328,163, Investigating genetic, environmental, and cognitive mechanisms underlying the development of psychosis in early childhood. Zammit S, Linden D, O'Donovan MC, Owen MJ, Holmans P, Medical Research Council.

January 2014 – January 2019, £4,900,000, STRATA Schizophrenia: Treatment resistance and therapeutic advances. Walters J, Owen M, O’Donovan M, Pocklington A, Singh K. Medical Research Council.

October 2013 – October 2018, £5,234,843, DEFINE - Defining Endophenotypes from Integrated Neurosciences. Owen MJ, Hall, J Crunelli V, Li M, Harwood A, Jones D, Linden D, Wilkinson L, Aggleton J,  Wellcome Trust Strategic Award.

August 2013 – August 2018, £2,739,223. Further defining the genetic architecture of Alzheimer's disease. Williams J, Holmans P, Morris H, Owen MJ, O’Donovan M, Li M., Moskvina V, Harold D, Medical Research Council (Programme Grant).

April 2015 – March 2018, £3,000,000. National Centre for Mental Health. Jones I, Owen M, Kerr M. NISCHR.

September 2013 – August 2017, £144,368. International consortium on brain and behaviour in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Van Den Bree MB, Owen MJ, Williams NM. National Institute of Mental Health.

April 2013 – March 2017, £795,641. Behaviour and neurophysiological effects of schizophrenia risk genes: a multi-locus, pathway based approach. Linden D, O’Donovan M, Holmans P, Pocklington A, Zammit S, Owen MJ, Singh K, Jones D. Medical Research Council.