Researchers at Oxford University announce major new study on depression

Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) at the University of Oxford today announce a major new study into the genetics of major depression in a population of women in China. The five-year project is funded by a £1.4 million grant from the Wellcome Trust. One of the largest studies into depression ever carried out in China, the project is collaboration between the University of Oxford, Hua Shan Hospital at Fudan University, China, and the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

In the first stage of the project, interviewers in China will talk to over 6,000 women who have suffered from recurrent lifetime major depression. They will also interview 6,000 matched controls - women who have never suffered from depression. In each of 15 hospitals across China, interviewers (psychiatrists trained by the VCU) will complete a detailed questionnaire on each woman who has volunteered to participate. In the second stage, DNA will be extracted from saliva samples collected from all interviewed women. The DNA will then be analysed to establish differences between the genetic profiles of the women affected by depression (cases) and those who have never suffered from depression (controls).

Professor Jonathan Flint (WTCHG), a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and one of the project co-directors, says: "We know that major depression has a genetic component. This project aims to identify the specific genes that make some people more susceptible than others to recurrent bouts of major depression. Knowing more about the biological basis of depression will help researchers develop better therapies".

This Wellcome Trust funded project follows on from a successful pilot project of 1,000 women funded by the mental health research charity, NARSAD.

For more information contact:
Annabel Cook
Public Engagement and Communications Officer
The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics
T: 01865 287649
M: 07825 855694

The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics was established to undertake research into the genetic basis of common diseases. The scientific objective of the Centre is to explore all aspects of the genetic susceptibility of disease. The Centre houses multi-disciplinary research teams in human genetics, functional genomics, bioinformatics, statistical genetics and structural biology.

The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending around £600 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.

Project Homepage:
Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), USA:
Hua Shan Hospital, Fudan University, China