A new joint project between Western Australia and Mongolia aims to strengthen ties between the two countries through collaborative genetic research.
The Western Australian Family Study of Schizophrenia (WAFSS) is one of the largest genetic databases in the southern hemisphere. Using DNA donated by volunteers, it is building up a picture of the genes involved in schizophrenia, which will hopefully pinpoint the genetic causes of this disabling condition.
WAFSS has formed a partnership with the National Center of Mental Health, Mongolia, which will offer training in advanced diagnostic methods and help to develop genetic-based mental health research in Mongolia.
Two psychiatrists from the Center, Dr Oyunchimeng and Dr Guljanat, will travel to WA in April to undertake advanced training in the diagnosis of psychosis with Winthrop Professor Assen Jablensky, Director of the Centre for Clinical Research in Neuropsychiatry (CCRN).
CCRN, a joint UWA-Department of Health research facility, will host the visit, which forms the first stage of the collaboration. This will be followed by collection of DNA samples in Mongolia which will be sent for testing to Western Australia.
WAFSS staff will then travel to Mongolia to carry out electrophysiological testing on research participants, and the data will also be added to the project.
Winthrop Professor Jablensky said the collaboration would help extend research into the genetic origins of schizophrenia.
"We have here an excellent opportunity to add to our genetic database and also to improve the delivery of mental health care in Mongolia through the Centre for Mental Health," Professor Jablensky said.