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Precision psychiatry on a global scale - launch of PONS

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Adolescence is a period of huge maturation in the brain and many common psychiatric disorders tend to emerge in late adolescence and early adulthood.

The Centre for Population Neuroscience and Precision Medicine (PONS) at King’s College London launches on June 28th 2018, and aims to find out how different environmental and biological factors impact on mental health during this crucial time, and when and where to target preventative treatment. 

In psychiatry, biological dysfunction does not neatly correspond to a single diagnosis, so an interdisciplinary group of world-leading researchers are using cutting edge tools to find underlying shared mechanisms of behavioural traits such as impulsivity and reward sensitivity and emotional response relating to disorders including depression, psychosis and addiction.

The Centre is led by Professor Gunter Schumann, Chair in Biological Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, who says: 

‘Using IMAGEN – the first largest longitudinal imaging genetics study in the world – and datasets from India, China and USA we have created the Global Imaging Genetics in Adolescents initiative comprising 200,000 participants and over 20,000 brain scans.  We will be able to study data from ages 8 to 22 to see how the brain is impacted and target therapies accordingly.

‘We are using AI techniques to analyse how the brain relates to genes, environment and behaviour. For example, we are working on defining groups of behavioural symptoms that reflect brain structure and function. We are also pioneering the use of satellite data such as Google Earth to measure environmental influences and develop targeted treatments that are adapted to local conditions across the globe.’



For further media information please contact: Robin Bisson, Senior Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, / +44 20 7848 5377 / +44 7718 697176.