New research to transform brain and mental health care

The University of Liverpool is a part of a new £35.4 million collaboration to develop innovative treatments and transformative therapies in brain health.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), one of only two centres in the country currently wholly dedicated to mental health, was successful in securing the 5-year funding for 11 themes of research.

Theme areas, including mental health in development, preventing multiple morbidities, psychological treatments and data science can now be advanced by leading researchers who are linked via a network of centres of excellence in brain health.

These include NHS organisations and universities, complemented by collaborations around the globe. Together they will make it possible to directly translate research into potential new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical technologies for NHS patients.

Professor Iain Buchan, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Innovation at the University of Liverpool, said: “The University of Liverpool is pleased to partner with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust in providing the NIHR Oxford Brain Health Biomedical Research Centre with a ‘Connected Mental Health’ innovation system, focusing population health, data, neuro and behavioural sciences on large-scale mechanistic research and early-stage trials, grounded in the connections of service-users to their communities and care-settings.

“The University will also align other research to enrich brain health discovery science, including the new birth cohort study, Children Growing Up in Liverpool, supported by the Wellcome Trust, which will investigate the effects of bio-psycho-social adversity on child development, including mental health, in a city where 28% of children are born into poverty.”

Professor John Geddes, Director of the NIHR Oxford Health BRC, said: “The successful BRC application was a result of a huge amount of work involving patients and public, researchers and clinicians across Oxford and our partners across the country.

“The new award now provides us with a wonderful opportunity to transform care for mental and brain health and wellbeing across the whole country and, actually, the world. We can now translate the best research from UK biomedical science, data science and engineering, social science and arts and the humanities for the benefit of clinical care and population health.

“We are enormously grateful to the NIHR and the International Panel for both understanding and generously supporting our ambitious plans and vision. We are now looking forward to co-designing with patients and the public powerful new approaches that can be tested, refined and then implemented across the NHS and beyond.”

The NIHR Oxford Health BRC is based at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and run in partnership with the University of Oxford, and with Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham Women’s’ and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford Brookes University, the Universities of Birmingham, Brighton, Liverpool, Reading, Sheffield and Surrey.