Using the power of data science, our researchers hope to better understand the complex interactions that influence our risk and resilience to mental illness and affect our response to treatment.
Our researchers are from a wide range of backgrounds including psychiatry, psychology, medical informatics, computing science, genomics and social sciences. Together, they will investigate a wide range of influences including the biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors that may play a role in our mental health and wellbeing. [Read more at Our Research)
Scotland has a large number of existing resources, including computing infrastructure, research expertise and access to data, that makes it ideal for this kind of research.
Scotland is home to many cohort studies – research projects where volunteers are followed over a long period of time. These include:
- Aberdeen Children of the 1950s
- The Bipolar Family Study
- Edinburgh High Risk Study of Schizophrenia
- Generation Scotland
- Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936
- Theirworld Edinburgh Birth Cohort
- UK Biobank
Together these projects cover the whole life-course from early pregnancy until death.
Furthermore, many of these volunteers have agreed to donate their DNA data and for us to link to their routinely collected health records, creating a vast resource for health research.
Our researchers also hope to encourage new volunteers through organsiations like SHARE – an initiative set up by NHS Research Scotland to allow anyone to volunteer their data for medical research.
A final unique feature of Scotland is the allocation of a CHI number – a single unique identifier which is used across all services (i.e. GPs, hospital doctors, dentists, physiotherapists etc). This makes data linkage much easier for both healthcare and research purposes.
The development of a coordinated informatics resource for mental health research was identified as a key priority within the 2017 MRC Strategy for Lifelong Mental Health.
The MRC therefore put forward funding for this Mental Health Data Pathfinder project (reference MC_PC_17209).
Other funding has been received from The University of Edinburgh, The Wellcome Trust Strategic Fund, The University of Glasgow and The University of Aberdeen.