The Cardiff MRC co-operative group in Neuropsychiatric Genetics is now one of the largest Psychiatric Genetics groups in the world and which, both for past and future proposals (January, 2003) has been banded alpha A (the highest possible award) by the Medical Research Council (UK). It has major projects on a number of common psychiatric and behavioural phenotypes including schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, bipolar disorder, ADHD, depression, dyslexia and cognitive ability. Through its successful JIF bid (13.5 Million) it has received funding for the Henry Wellcome Institute for Biomedical Research (HWIBR) which will open in July 2003. One of the four floors of this building (700m2 ) will house its co-op's new functional genomics laboratory, in close proximity to other groups (including two other MRC co-ops) engaged in cell biology and functional genomics. Its JIF funding also funded the development of a transgenics unit and a medical research facility adjacent to the HWIBR. It has been allocated space in both to allow development of animal models of psychiatric disorders based on transgenic, gene-targeting and mutatgenesis approaches and to allow us to study intermediate phenotypes in psychiatric patients. Recently it has received funding to relocate our genomics laboratories to another new suite of purpose built laboratories in the HWIBR complex adjacent to a core facility for genomics, functional genomics and cell imaging.

Using a range of UK government funding initiatives, it has undertaken a programme of strategic investment in high-throughput genotyping (3 ABI 3100 capillary sequencers, an Analyst HTS platform for genotyping based upon fluorescence polarisation and a MassARRAY high capacity genotyping platform from Sequenom) in proteomics (MALDI-TOF, 2DGE, Biocore, Ciphergen ProteinChiP array) and Transcriptomics (Affymetrix microarray). These facilities will be linked to its new laboratories. With regard to micro-array work, the Affymetrix Group has already secured more than 3 million of research funding to exploit its expertise in this area, including studies of human cell lines and also animal models of neuropsychiatric phenotypes.

Recently, UWCM together with Cardiff University and the University of Wales Aberystwyth, has received funding of 1.5M under the HEFCW Research Capacity Development Fund to establish a bioinformatics/bioanalysis unit. This includes a Professor, two Medical Senior Lecturers four Non-Medical Lecturers and four Research Fellows. A major role of this unit will be to support work in neuropsychiatric genetics though expertise in biostatistical analysis, bioinformatics (both biogenomics and biomolecular analyses) and database construction and administration. This development is being co-ordinated by a member of our co-operative group, Prof. Julie Williams and many of the posts, including the chair, will be based in the Department of Psychological Medicine.

The strength of Genetics Research in Cardiff has also recently been recognised by the successful bid for the Wales Gene Park jointly between UWCM, CU, NHS Cymru Wales, WDA and Techniquest (Cardiff's public centre for science discovery). In its first phase the Wales Gene Park Consortium is linking and strengthening existing groups involved in basic and applied medical genetics research, public and professional education in relation to genetics and improving the infrastructure for commercialisation of research findings. New IT links and facilities are providing access to central facilities and expertise for researchers at other HEIs in Wales. Specific areas for development include genomics (both human and model organisms especially mouse), array technology, bioinformatics, transgenics and social, ethical and service delivery aspects of applied genetics. These are being applied particularly in relation to cancer, neurodegenerative disease and psychiatric disorders, the latter two through the work of this Co-op. A series of linked new grants in excess of 4M has recently been won in relation to phase 1.



Investigators


Professor Nick Craddock

Nick Craddock, who recently moved to Cardiff from his post as Professor of Molecular Psyhiatry and Head of Department of Psychiatry in Birmingham, has extensive experience, particularly in the medical,and statistical aspects, of molecular genetic epidemiological investigation of mood disorders, particularly Bipolar Disorder. He holds programme grant funding from the Wellcome Trust and has, over the last 10 years, assembled one of the largest available medical sample sets both for LD studies and, together with Prof. Gill (Dublin) for family linkage studies of Bipolar Disorder. He has contributed to multicentre projects on Unipolar Depression both for family and case-control studies and has previous experience in providing the genetic input to large pragmatic human pharmacological studies.



Professor Mike Owen

Professor of Psychological Medicine and Head of the Neuropsychiatric Genetics MRC Cooperative Group in Cardiff and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at UWCM. He is currently President of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics. Prof. Owen is PI of an MRC Programme grants on Schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease and has a background and expertise molecular genetics, psychiatric genetics, linkage studies (team has undertaken genome scans of schiz and Ad., association studies in schiz, bp, ad.



Professor Michael O'Donovan

Professor O'Donovan has broad internationally recognised expertise in molecular genetic analysis of complex human diseases, particularly mental disorders and is a PI in molecular genetics studies of functional psychosis (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, juvenile psychosis), dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, pharmaco-genetics of depression, Alzheimer's disease and cognitive development. He also has an interest in novel technology development, and has developed and published protocols for highly efficient polymorphism discovery, genotyping, and studying gene expression and its regulation.



Dr Lesley Jones

Dr Lesley Jones is a cell biologist with a primary interest in neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. She has expertise in global gene expression using microarrays, particularly as applied to brain tissue. Dr Jones currently developing analytical methods for correlating global gene expression data with other types of biological data for instance behavioural or phenotypic correlates, and has carried out Affymetrix GeneChip studies examining the effect of treatments in transgenic mice carrying the Huntington's disease mutation. Dr Jones also has expertise in the follow up and confirmatory experiments necessary to support this work including quantitative PCR, in situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry.