Researchers awarded £2.2m to help understanding of mental health conditions

30 March 2018, 15:13

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Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are to receive £2.2 million to better understand mental health conditions such as depression.

The funding, they say, represents a "step-change" in the approach to understanding mental health and could pave the way for new treatment.

The research is based on big data that draws meaningful insights from vast amounts of information.

Scientists will pool data from several sources including anonymous health records, genetics and psychological studies to build a picture of the development of disease.

Andrew McIntosh, professor of biological psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Our vision is to make meaningful links between ongoing research studies spanning the whole lifespan and anonymised health records to better understand the causes and consequences of mental health conditions.

"We hope that this will enable more effective treatments and ultimately pave the way for improving resilience to common mental health disorders."

Experts say one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health issue in a given year.

The £2.2 million funding, a combination of a Medical Research Council Data Pathfinder award and backing from the University of Edinburgh, will create secure facilities for health data research.

The project builds on Scotland's expertise in health data science and ties in with Edinburgh's ambition to become data capital of Europe.

Prof McIntosh added: "This combination of resources means Edinburgh is poised to make significant advances in mental health research based upon rapidly developing resources for data science that are unparalleled in the UK."