THE MRC CENTRE FOR NEUROPSYCHIATRIC GENETICS AND GENOMICS (CNGG) believes that communication and public engagement is particularly important in psychiatric genetics.
The majority of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are at some remove from academic activity. While, mental health service users and their relatives are often from the most disadvantaged and difficult to reach sectors of society. In addition to this, the stigma of psychiatric disorders, poor public understanding about the treatment and prognosis of mental illness and issues around risk and genetics make this an especially difficult area for a range of publics.
Our programme of engagement develops and compliments the research conducted at the ESRC Centre for the Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen) on Psychiatric Genetics. As part of our MRC funding we have employed a Research Fellow, Dr. Jamie Lewis, who works closely with Cesagen’s Psychiatric Genetics theme. In particular, he is working with the Principal Investigator (Dr. Katie Featherstone) and two postdoctoral social scientists (Drs. Andrew Bartlett and Michael Arribas-Ayllon). Jamie is also working closely with Dr. Ian Jones who has been appointed the Principal Investigator for the public engagement programme at the MRC Centre. Together, they are conducting research into public engagement of psychiatric genetics and running an innovative programme of public engagement events.
The MRC Centre also draws on the proven expertise of Wendy Sadler and her ‘science made simple’ activities on the public understanding of science.
The following activities are being co-ordinated and managed by the team over the course of the next 5 years:
- Public Engagement Events including Cardiff sciSCREEN and the Philosophy Café exploring publics understanding of genetics and psychiatry.
- Science Shows for young people in conjunction with ‘science made simple’ exploring recent developments in neuropsychiatry and genetics.
- Symposia to promote dissemination, dialogue, and debate, between scientists, policy-makers, and funding bodies
MRC members also continue to work closely with patients and research participants such as the Brain Disorder Research Network.