Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Causes of depression funding boost

People suffering from clinical depression, and those at risk from the condition, could benefit from a major medical research initiative that is being led by Prof Andrew McIntosh (Psychiatry).

The Stratifying Resilience and Depression Longitudinally (STRADL) project has been awarded £4.7million from the Wellcome Trust to study the condition in new ways in the hope of developing better treatments. In addition to CCBS researchers from Psychiatry, the project involves the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, the Institute for Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) and brain imaging facilities in Edinburgh and at the University of Aberdeen.

Over the next five years, the scientists will study groups of people who have known depression risk factors. These include family history of low mood, diseases like heart disease and diabetes and early life problems such as low birth weight or childhood psychological trauma.

Researchers will then use memory, reasoning and mental speed tests as well as brain imaging to find out whether specific subgroups of patients correspond to specific disorders.

For many people, the symptom of low mood is the most understandable of reactions to loss or stress, yet we remain ignorant of its causes and mechanisms. This means that progress in discovering new and more effective treatments is slow. This Wellcome Trust grant will enable us to make significant progress with this common and disabling condition.

Professor Andrew McIntoshChair of Biological Psychiatry, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences