CORDIS - EU research results

Translational Research into Psychiatric disorders: genetics, genomics and neurobiology of psychosis and autism

Final Report Summary - TRIP (Translational Research into Psychiatric disorders: genetics, genomics and neurobiology of psychosis and autism)

Translational Research into Psychiatric disorders: genetics, genomics and neurobiology of psychosis and autism.

Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism, constitute an extraordinarily high public health burden. Few novel treatments have emerged in recent years, because their aetiology is poorly understood. The recent development of new, high resolution, high-throughput research technologies, including large-scale genetic studies using microarrays and genome sequencing, high-resolution neuroimaging, neurobiology and medical/bioinformatics provide an opportunity to advance the field rapidly through the translation of knowledge on fundamental aetiology into benefit for the patient. TRiP was a joint initiative by five of the world’s leading psychiatric research centres, two in Europe and one in the USA with two emerging powerhouses of neuroscience research in China, formed to accelerate basic and clinical research into mental illness. These key research players exchanged state of the art research methodology and training in psychiatry research. The international dimension in TRiP directly addressed the IRSES action, which encourages long-term research collaboration between MS/AC and eligible third country partners. The participants are ideal partners, because of their world-class research expertise, complementarities, and track record of cooperation, which will result in enduring scientific exchange and collaboration between key players in the field in the EU, China and the USA.

TRIP aimed to harmonize state of the art research in neuropsychiatric disorders across the centres in order to tackle the most difficult research problems in biological psychiatry, to allow the harmonisation of phenotype measurements in patient populations, the development and dissemination of complex and advanced techniques and methodologies, the pooling of resources for direct comparison and combination of large datasets, the cross-disciplinary training of future leaders in this field and the translation of these findings for patient benefit, such as drug development and clinical genetics.

The overall objective of the TRiP project was to bring together an international and interdisciplinary group of research teams for the purpose of creating synergy and excellence in research, innovation, enhancing international cooperation and transfer of knowledge in the area of human neurodevelopmental disorders. TRiP performed joint training, research and dissemination in relation to the neurobiology and genomics of neurodevelopmental disorders, focusing on autism and schizophrenia. The program generated mobility for some of the best young neuroscientists in the EU to receive training in world leading neurobiology in the USA and China. The institutions involved view IRSES as providing valuable opportunities to establish for long-term research cooperation through a coordinated joint programme of exchange of researchers for short periods. The consortium was underpinned by the existing, well-funded and complimentary existing research programs of the partners, and the project will allow the developed of considerable added value and synergy between these research programs.

The objectives of the TRiP network were achieved and were to:

• Train early stage biological psychiatry researchers, by exchanging postgraduate students and research fellows, so that they benefit from the broader knowledge, skills and tools provided by TRiP.
• Develop an international network for genetic and genomic research into complex neurodevelopmental disorders
• Establish research collaborations between genomic scientists and neurobiologists in order to develop disease models and further our understanding of the underlying biological basis of neuropsychiatric disorders
• Establish research collaborations between geneticists and brain imagers to develop biomarkers for optimising clinical trials
• Establish research collaborations between laboratory and clinical geneticists in the network to translate basic genomic research to the clinic.

Overall our program has been successful in fostering increasingly deep relationships between the partners, particularly KCL, UCLA and SJTU but also UMCU and PKU. The work carried out in the exchanges has been valuable in achieving our aims. In our previous reports, we indicated that we particularly have had difficulties in filling the senior researcher exchanges. In these cases the amount of money available for exchanges was not sufficient to allow staff to transfer. To encourage more exchanges, we put into place a revised schedule of exchanges, in particular encouraging more early stage researchers to exchanges from China to the EU and vice versa. At the KCL site we were successful in carrying out the number of exchanges planned while in UMCU there was partial success.