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A global initiative to advance psychiatric research

The socioeconomic burden of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism is very high. An EU initiative sought to harmonise research on the causes of these diseases to improve diagnosis and therapeutic tools.

Health

The EU-funded TRIP (Translational research into psychiatric disorders: Genetics, genomics and neurobiology of psychosis and autism) project worked to accelerate biomedical and clinical research into mental illness. Key to the success of TRIP was an exchange programme via the International Research Staff Exchange Scheme. It provides valuable opportunities to establish long-term research cooperation through a coordinated joint programme of exchange of researchers for short periods. TRIP brought together an international and interdisciplinary group of research teams. This helped to create synergy and excellence in research and innovation, and to enhance global cooperation and transfer of knowledge in human neurodevelopmental disorders. Specifically, the project developed an international network for genetic and genomic research into complex neurodevelopmental disorders. It established several strategic research collaborations. These involve genomic scientists and neurobiologists to develop disease models and further understanding of the underlying biological basis of neuropsychiatric disorders, geneticists and brain imagers to develop biomarkers for optimising clinical trials, as well as laboratory and clinical geneticists to translate basic genomic research to the clinic. Joint training, research and dissemination were conducted concerning the neurobiology and genomics of neurodevelopmental disorders, with a focus on autism and schizophrenia. Early-stage neuroscientists received training at world renowned psychiatric research centres in China and the United States via postgraduate student and research fellow exchanges. The TRIP network will leave a collaborative research structure that can be adapted and moulded for future initiatives on neuropsychiatric disorders. Translation of the wealth of research data from the project promises to improve clinical practice for risk prediction, more rapid diagnosis and effective therapy.

Keywords

Psychiatric research, psychiatric disorders, TRIP, psychosis, autism

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