Driving Advances in Drug Discovery for Mental Health Conditions

Understanding and addressing the unmet medical needs of individuals living with mental health conditions.

Psychiatry Consortium

The scale and impact of mental illness throughout society is immense. In 2019, 1 in 8 people, or 970 million individuals worldwide, were living with a mental illness – with anxiety and depressive disorders the most common.1 In 2020, there has been a significant increase in the number of individuals suffering from anxiety and depressive disorders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preliminary estimates show an increase of 26% and 28%, respectively, for anxiety and major depressive disorder in just 1 year.2

Although we have treatments for some mental health conditions, they don’t work for everyone, and the adverse effects can be difficult to tolerate. Yet, despite the immense need, drug discovery in this area has been relatively stagnant compared to other therapeutic areas, with no new drug types emerging in the last 30 years.

Psychiatric drug discovery must be a truly collaborative process to drive advances. To enable a more integrated approach, we need better transfer between scientific disciplines and a systematic and structured way to make academic progress in our understanding of psychiatric disease biology through the drug discovery process.

The Psychiatry Consortium, launched in 2019, is a strategic collaboration of 2 leading medical research charities and 8 pharmaceutical companies (table) To focus on the challenge of identifying and validating new drug targets to meet the therapeutic needs of individuals living with mental health conditions.

Psychiatry consortium partners act as a syndicate, collectively sharing the funding – and therefore the risks – associated with drug discovery.

We strive to bring together all aspects of the global research community to tackle and solve key challenges within drug discovery. We provide opportunities for funding, collaboration and industry information in this area of ​​patient need. This model of working is built with the patient, the manufacturer and the supplier all in mind, and is unique in its holistic approach and global reach.

project portfolio

Psychiatry Consortium projects aim to build a deeper understanding of a disease or condition and its causative molecular mechanisms in order to identify and validate novel therapeutic targets. One of the early successes of the consortium is a multimillion-dollar partnership between leading international research institutions and pharmaceutical companies that joined together to investigate a new drug target for the treatment of schizophrenia. It was the first project funded by the International Psychiatry Consortium.

A world-leading team of academic researchers is using their newly designed technical approach to assess which proteins are selectively activated by the calrerin gene in the human brain, and how this differs from other human tissues . Once this is understood, it may be possible to identify the proteins that represent the most promising drug targets for potential treatment of schizophrenia and how they affect the function of cells, and to develop drugs to alter their function. Starting drug development for

In February 2022, we launched our second project: an international collaboration to combat depression. The project combines academic and industry partners’ efforts and expertise to assess the role of 1 of the most important risk genes for depression (neuronal growth regulator 1, or NeGR1) in the development of the disorder. Researchers will apply a combination of human genomics, cellular physiology and neurobehavioral genetics investigations with the aim of characterizing gene expression in the human brain and the effects of modulation of gene expression at both the cellular and behavioral levels.

The results will help define a pharmacological approach to interfere with targeted activity, paving the way for drug development efforts in the search for new treatments for major depression.

Our third project is a unique collaboration between our industry partners and a UK-based small-to-medium enterprise (SME), investigating GALR3 as a novel target for postpartum depression.

It is projects like these that demonstrate the ambitions of the Psychiatry Consortium. The discovery of new ways to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, depression and postpartum depression could have a transformative impact on the lives of millions of people around the world. Through true international collaboration, we believe we have the infrastructure and expertise to succeed.

Call for Project Proposals

The Psychiatry Consortium is accepting applications for project proposals until December 5, 2022, We seek to fund projects that focus on the validation of novel molecular drug targets for mental health conditions, including mood disorders, psychosis, cognitive disorders and psychiatric symptoms of dementia. Funding is open to universities, research institutes and small companies (micro and medium, SMEs) around the world.

In the initial application phase, we ask for a high-level summary of the proposed target and the biological link between the target and the disease. Proposals demonstrating evidence of a link between a novel target and a neural circuit, pathway, or disease mechanism, and with convergent lines of evidence supporting that link, have the best chance of success. Successful applicants will be invited to meet with our industry partners to design a project that builds on available evidence and further validates the proposed goal.

Submit your proposal today.

involving the research community

In addition to providing funding to support and translate research, we also offer learning exchanges and opportunities for charities, patients, clinicians to understand and discuss ways to overcome barriers to effective psychiatric drug discovery. , bring together big pharma and academia.

Collaboration and engagement with the psychiatric research community is important. To date, the Psychiatry Consortium has presented at 15 international conferences and conducted 10 webinars, 4 interactive workshops for global opinion leaders and a virtual symposium with over 1000 registrants. Our most recently published “Guiding Principles for Robust Target Validation in Psychiatry” document highlights key considerations considered important by the drug discovery community when building a target validation package for novel therapeutic targets.

We anticipate that the guidance will assist applicants in the creation of projects that address our gaps in knowledge and build on the body of evidence to support the role of the target in a particular disease or condition and its potential as a therapeutic target. Let’s strengthen.

The Psychiatry Consortium can only be successful when we engage with experts in the field. If you would like to work with us on a project or collaborate on a workshop or event, we would love to hear from you. You can learn more about what we’re looking for and access other helpful resources at psychiatryconsortium.org.

To keep up to date with our activities, sign up for our mailing list. If you would like to find out more or work with us, contact us at [email protected]

Dr Patel Medicines Discovery Catapult is the Partnership Manager for the Psychiatry Consortium.


1. UK Mental Health Research Funding 2014-17. MQ: Transforming mental health. Accessed May 14, 2022.

2. Result: Cause of death or injury. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Health Data Exchange. 2022. Accessed May 14, 2022. https://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-results/

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