Page last updated at 10:51 GMT, Thursday, 2 July 2009 11:51 UK

4m mental health genetics centre

A depressed man (actor)
Genetics will be used to research illnesses such as bipolar disorder

A centre using genetics to research mental disorders has been launched.

The £4m Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, based at Cardiff University, will tackle illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

It will also study degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and developmental disorders like dyslexia and childhood depression.

Another aim is to break down what centre officials call the "stigma" surrounding some of these diseases.

Professor Mike Owen, director of the new centre, said if people could see advances were being made in tackling mental health disorders it will help reduce the stigma.

"The stigma is still there. But when people see these are diseases like physical diseases the stigma starts to go," he said.

Research at the new centre will investigate the genetic element to mental health disorders.

Training

"There isn't just one gene for these disorders," said Prof Owen "There are multiple genes in schizophrenia in each individual, each of which has a tiny effect."

The centre will be a major commitment to support research and provide training for non-medical PHD students and doctors.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) approved the establishment of the centre - its first which is aimed at using genetics as part of its research into mental disorders.

Investment in the centre totals more than £4m, with funding also coming from the Welsh Assembly Government through the Wales Office of Research and Development for Health and Social Care (Word) and the university itself.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan launched the centre at the School of Medicine in Cardiff.



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