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Cardiff Univ. Uses $6.6M for Neuro-Genetics and Genomics Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cardiff University in Wales has established a new center to study the genetic underpinnings of mental illnesses, and said that it will be funded with over £4 million ($6.6 million) from sources within the UK and from its own coffers.

The Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics will conduct studies seeking risk genes for brain diseases and finding ways to use those genes, and will develop collaborations, fund bioinformatics, and establish a new PhD program.

The center, which opened on April 1 but is celebrating its official launch today, will receive £2 million over five years from the UK's Medical Research Council, £1 million each from Cardiff University's School of Medicine and from its strategic fund, and £277,000 from the Wales Office of Research and Development for Health and Social Care (WORD).

"Over the next five years, we want to use technological advances to identify new genes which put people at risk of brain disorders," Mike Owen, a professor at the School of Medicine and the center's director, said in a statement. "We then want to work out exactly how these genes affect the operation of the brain and, ultimately, start building treatments which can tackle some of these terrible diseases.

"We see the public engagement work as central to our mission. Our research projects need a large amount of data from a large number of volunteers and public support is vital," Owen added.

MRC Director of Research and Training Declan Mulkeen said in a statement that the center "will provide exciting new opportunities for future translational research based upon world class expertise in neuropsychiatric genetics."

The center will conduct studies of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and developmental disorders like dyslexia and childhood depression.

It will develop collaborations to research risk genes for brain diseases, establish a four-year program with two new postgraduate studentships each year, conduct public engagement and communications, and establish a senior post in bioinformatics for handling data used in the research.

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