Unique £4m mental health research centre opens in Cardiff

First Minister Rhodri Morgan has opened a £4m medical project in Cardiff that will investigate common mental conditions and attempt to discover cures for a range of brain disorders.

The research centre is based at Cardiff University and will examine the causes of mental illness and disorders such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, depression, Huntington’s disease and dyslexia.

Opening the centre Mr Morgan said: “Mental illnesses are such a high priority that the prospect of using the latest genetic research to improve the chances of finding cures has to be worthy of public investment and support.”

Professor Mike Owen of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, who is in charge of the project, said the centre will make the most of available technology and stressed that it will need the support of the public as well if it is to thrive.

He said: “We want to use technological advances to identify new genes which put people at risk of brain disorders. We then want to work out how these genes affect the brain and, ultimately, start building treatments which can tackle these terrible diseases.

“Our research needs a large amount of data from a large number of volunteers and public support is vital. However, a great many myths and taboos still surround both mental illness and genetics. We aim to break down these barriers.”

The centre is the first in the UK to support research into degenerative mental disorders.