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New international exchange scheme announced

Posted on 14/09/2012
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Researchers at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), in collaboration with colleagues in China, the Netherlands and the USA have been awarded €574,000 to fund a new ambitious staff exchange scheme. 

The aim of the collaboration is to share cutting edge research methods to develop new treatments and diagnostic tools for psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and autism.

The International Research Staff Exchange Scheme is funded by the European Commission’s Marie Curie Actions initiative. The scheme will fund more than 120 members of staff for exchanges between King’s College London, the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMC Utrecht) in the Netherlands, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the USA, Peking University Institute of Mental Health (PKUIMH) in China and the Bio-X Institute, Shanghai, also in China.  

Dr Gerome Breen, lead investigator on the grant and Senior Lecturer at the IoP at King’s says:  “This unprecedented international exchange scheme is aimed at strengthening research ties in psychiatry between the EU and China and the USA. Through these links, we will be able to share state of the art research methodologies to help us tackle the most difficult research problems in biological psychiatry. The grant brings together some of the best centres in the world for biological psychiatry and the staff being exchanged will work on projects at the forefront of research in the field.” 

Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism, constitute a high public health burden. Few novel treatments have emerged in recent years, because their causes and development are poorly understood. The recent development of new technologies, including large-scale genetic and genomic studies, high-resolution neuro-imaging, neurobiology and bioinformatics provide an opportunity to advance the field rapidly through the translation of knowledge into patient benefit. 

The project is funded by the Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES), which aims to strengthen research partnerships through staff exchanges and networking activities between research organisations in European and other countries. UCLA have provided matching funding of over $100,000 to support their participation in the scheme.

Professor Marian Joels from the Rudolf Magnus Institute at UMC Utrecht says: “This is a great opportunity to make progress in research and to establish strong and long lasting ties with key research partners in the UK, China and the USA.” 

Professor Nelson Freimer from the Semel Institute at UCLA says: “We are excited by the opportunity to have some of the best young scientist in the field visit UCLA, working on world leading projects in genomics and neuroimaging of psychiatric disorders.” 

Professor Lin He from the Bio-X Centre at Shanghai Jiao Tong University says: “We are very happy to be part of this program.  As our centres grow it is important for China to develop and maintain good collaborative links with both the EU and USA.”  

Dr Lili Guan from Peking University says: “The training opportunities offered by the scheme are very exciting and we hope to develop new training materials that can be used by others in the field.”

For more information, please contact Seil Collins, Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, email: seil.collins@kcl.ac.uk or tel: 0207 848 5377

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