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Our research aims to understand how individual genes contribute to the complex brain functions that are impaired in people with psychiatric disorders. By understanding these links we hope to improve treatments for these disorders.

Lab members running a brain-themed cocktail bar at the Science Museum's Lates event © © Kristian Reveles Jensen
Lab members running a brain-themed cocktail bar at the Science Museum's Lates event

Our research aims to understand how individual genes, in combination with other genetic and environmental factors, influence complex brain functions.  We take information from clinical populations and use a multidisciplinary approach to try and understand the underlying biological mechanisms, with the aim of developing better treatments for psychiatric disorders as a result.  We are dedicated to using the most appropriate technical approaches to test our hypotheses.  Therefore, our research is highly collaborative.

Historically, we have studied the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene.  We’ve shown that COMT is critical for regulating dopamine, which is a key neurotransmitter in several psychiatric disorders.  Most recently, we demonstrated that a drug which reduces COMT’s activity improves cognitive function in healthy volunteers with a particular variant of the COMT gene.  We are now extending these findings to see if this drug might be beneficial for treating patients with certain psychiatric disorders, who can suffer from impairment in cognition. More recently we have expanded our focus to encompass genetic loci emerging from genome-wide association studies of psychiatric disorders, with the voltage-gated calcium channel genes forming a major current area of investigation.

Our research is funded by the Royal Society, the BBSRC, the Wellcome Trust and the MRC. We welcome contact from potential collaborators, students and the media.

Our team

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