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Mental health creates Melbourne-Peking research link

Collaborative research on mental health issues, from schizophrenia to disaster mental health, will be the focus of a new University of Melbourne and Peking University center launched in Beijing today.


The University of Melbourne-Peking University Center for Psychiatric Research and Training will bring together world experts from both institutions to study all aspects of mental health, from biological to epidemiological and psycho-social.


It will also provide co-supervision of PhD students and support postdoctoral exchanges. 


The new center is the culmination of a 10-year partnership on issues of mental health between the two universities, led by Melbourne's department, Asialink, Asia Australia Mental Health and Peking's Institute of Mental Health.


Mental disorders make up 13% of the world's disease burden and are one of the largest contributors to all diseases. An estimated 173 million Chinese people suffer from a mental disorder, with 92% never having received any type of treatment before 2004.


Over the past decade, the two universities have collaborated in the national roll out of modern community mental health services across China through the so-called '686 Project'. 


"This project is one of the largest mental health reform programs globally, delivering community psychiatric services covering a population of over 900 million people," said Professor Ian Everall, Melbourne's head of psychiatry.


Everall said the center was an exciting step forward in the collaboration between the two institutions.


"The partnership has grown from clinical services to knowledge transfer and now, in this new venture, collaborative research. Our aim over the next 10 years is to have 50 PhD students jointly trained between Melbourne and Peking.


"Our students will receive a greater understanding of the key mental health issues in Asia and conversely, students from Peking will have full access to the range of psychiatric research expertise Melbourne has to offer."


Executive director of the new center, Professor Yu Xin, said the partnership would be of great benefit to both Australia and China.


"Peking's Institute of Mental Health and Melbourne's department of psychiatry have worked together for the past 10 years to support the successful national mental health policy, service delivery, as well as a community-based psychosis management program in China," Yu said.


"Building on this achievement, the establishment of the new center will respond to the increasing demand for psychiatry research and training in China and globally. The center will enhance academic standing and research outcomes for both universities, and significantly increase the research and training capacity for PhD students from Australia and China."


Everall said the development would be extended to include research and one Chinese PhD student was coming to Melbourne to work on the genomics of schizophrenia, trying to identify the genetic markers to help the diagnosis of the disease.


"We also have a postdoctoral fellow arriving this month who is reviewing the data of 1,000 children born to Chinese mothers with schizophrenia," he said. 



Source: University World News

Edited by: Arthars