Mental health and pregnancy research in Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities awarded £2 million

Genes & Health, a pioneering genetic research programme that aims to improve health for British Bangladeshi and British Pakistani communities, has been given a prestigious ‘Longitudinal Population Study’ award of £2 million from the Medical Research Council.

The award - which includes University of Manchester researchers - will ensure the study’s long-term sustainability to fight health inequality in an underrepresented population of British South Asians. Launched in 2014, the community-focused project has recruited over 55,000 volunteers across London, Bradford, and Manchester.

Genes & Health brings together internationally renowned scientists to make new discoveries, using cutting-edge techniques such as discovering ‘knockout genes,’ developing polygenic risk scores, and helping with the design of new drug treatments.

The funding will allow Genes & Health to continue to provide a unique data source for researchers, generate valuable long-term data, as well as expand its focus on two areas of unmet health needs: mental health and pregnancy.

We are delighted to contribute to this important study. Working with the British Muslim Heritage Centre, the Bangladeshi Assistant High Commissioner, local imans and community leaders across greater Manchester, we are encouraging members of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities to participate and to guide us about the important health issues that affect them and how genomic medicine can be used to help address these

Professor Bill Newman

Studies have shown that individuals belonging to South Asian communities are comparatively less likely to receive diagnosis for mental health conditions, such as depression. As part of its aim to improve the lives of South Asians, Genes & Health will develop and deliver an innovative online platform that will be used to generate large-scale mental health research.

Similarly, British South Asian women face greater risks for disorders such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia compared to the general population during and after pregnancy.

The inclusion of this pregnancy cohort within Genes & Health will enable a greater understanding of pregnancy-associated medical disorders and prediction of long-term health risks following illness.

Dr Sarah Finer, Principal Investigator of the new award said: 

“We are excited to receive funding to expand Genes & Health over the coming years and continue to make critical scientific discoveries that help improve the health of British Bangladeshis and British Pakistanis.”

Councillor Ahsan Khan, Chair of the Genes & Health Community Advisory Group said: 

“Genes & Health has received incredible support from our volunteers and partners in the NHS, community organisations and local government. We look forward to another five years of work in these fantastic partnerships.” 

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