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Record-breaking grant: New research project to investigate the causes of mental disorders
Date:3/19/2012

Is it possible to prevent the development of schizophrenia? Can certain patients develop autism if they carry a specific gene and have been exposed to a viral fetal infection? Should all ADHD patients take the same type of medication?

This unique research project will try to answer these questions. The project is based at Aarhus University and will be known as 'The Lundbeck Foundation's Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research' (iPSYCH). The grant of DKK 121m from the Lundbeck Foundation is the largest grant ever awarded to Danish psychiatric research.

- We will investigate why some people develop mental disorders. We will identify biological disease mechanisms, and we also intend to provide the basis for better treatment and prevention, says Dr. Brglum, Professor of Medical Genetics at Aarhus University and Scientific Director of the research project.

The many faces of psychiatry

The project will study five specific mental disorders: schizophrenia, manic depression, depression, autism and ADHD. All disorders are associated with major human and societal costs all over the world. The new thing is that researchers will study these disorders from many different angles, ranging from genes and cells to population studies, from fetus to adult, from cause to symptoms of the disorder, and this knowledge will be combined in new ways across scientific fields.

- People suffering from a mental disorder such as schizophrenia may have very different lives: a family life with children and a job or a life characterized by chronic disease and homelessness. The disorders do not affect all patients in exactly the same way. We do not know why, but we do know that our current treatment methods are far from optimal because we need more knowledge about the causes behind the disorders, but also about the differences in the development, says Dr. Brglum.

- Our main goal is to identify the causes of these disorders by studying the interplay between genetic and environmental factors and thereby find new targets for treatment. The perspective is to offer better and individualized treatment, providing a better life for each individual patient with the disorder and perhaps even ways to prevent the development of the disorder in some cases, he says.

Professor Mikael Rrth, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Lundbeck Foundation, is pleased with the research opportunities that the new grant will offer:

- Mental disorders are determined by a combination of genetic and psycho-social factors. The research project will combine unique Danish registers and biobanks and is expected to pave the way for better treatment in the future, says Dr. Rrth.

International collaboration

iPSYCH consists of leading researchers within psychiatry, genetics and register-based research. The team collaborates with e.g. the SSI (Statens Serum Institut) under the Danish Ministry of Health, Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), deCode Genetics in Iceland and the Genetic Biobank of the Faroe Islands. In combination, this will provide unique opportunities for creating ground breaking new knowledge, which may result in better and more individualized treatment of patients by considering genetic profile, environmental factors and clinical symptoms in combination.

The iPSYCH project team consists of the following researchers:

  • Professor Anders Brglum, Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital (Scientific Director of iPSYCH): anders@humgen.au.dk; tel: +45 8716 7768 or +45 60202720
  • Professor Ole Mors, Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital: nielmors@rm.dk; tel: + 45 7847 1166
  • Professor Preben Bo Mortensen, Aarhus University: pbm@ncrr.dk; tel:. +45 8716 5359
  • Professor Thomas Werge, Mental Health Services in the Capital Region of Denmark: thomas.werge@regionh.dk; tel: +45 4633 4968
  • Professor Merete Nordentoft, Mental Health Services in the Capital Region of Denmark: merete.nordentoft@regionh.dk; tel: +45 3531 6239.


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Contact: Kirsten Olesen
kol@sun.au.dk
(45) 23-38-24-44
Aarhus University
Source:Eurekalert

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