Completed PhD Scholarships
Congratulations and well done from all of us at Mental Health Research UK   


Our second completed PhD Scholarship - Daniel McCartney has completed his PhD Scholarship at Edinburgh

Daniel's PhD Scholarship was the John Grace QC PhD Scholarship 2012 at University of Edinburgh titled: 'Investigating the molecular and cellular consequences of Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 in patient-derived neural stem cells.' Click on this link to read more Read More.

Daniel's Final Report

I submitted my PhD thesis entitled “Investigating Genome-wide Methylomic and Transcriptomic Consequences of a Balanced t(1;11) Translocation Linked to Major Mental Illness” in September 2016 and successfully defended in February 2017.

My project was focused on a large Scottish family with a chromosomal mutation linked to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Using three types of biological samples from this family (blood-derived immortalised cell lines, whole blood and stem cell-derived brain cells), I examined global gene expression levels and a process called DNA methylation. Methylation is an alteration to DNA that can be caused by environmental influences (e.g. smoking, stress) and has been shown to be altered in numerous diseases including psychiatric disorders. Examination of blood-derived DNA from 41 family members revealed strong differences in DNA methylation at the genomic regions in which the above-mentioned chromosomal mutation occurred. This finding presented a potential biological mechanism for illness in the family members carrying this mutation. Towards the latter part of my PhD I was investigating DNA methylation in stem cell-derived neuronal material from six family members : three with the mutation and three without. Some differences were observed in individuals carrying the mutation but the effects were not as strong as those seen in blood. A reason for this may have been the small number of individuals profiled. To address this issue, work is ongoing to generate additional stem cell-derived neuronal samples from the family. Work is also ongoing to examine gene expression levels in these samples with an additional aim to investigate the relationship between DNA methylation and gene expression in the family. The output of my PhD is a first author paper [1] and a second in preparation, relating to the blood-based study of DNA methylation. The published paper describes a method to increase the reliability of data generated from a widely-used product for the detection of DNA methylation in various traits and disorders. The goal of this paper is to provide a useful resource to the research community.

As of October 2016 I have been working for an Edinburgh-based Genomics company, providing analytical services to commercial and academic groups. This has allowed me to apply the experience gained during my studies, assisting in multiple research projects related to a broad range of disorders.


Mental Health Research UK are pleased to announce the first of our completed PhD Scholarships.

Dr Bethan Davies has graduated from Nottingham University and is our first graduate. Below are photographs and a PDF of her thesis.



















Bethan and her supervisor Professor Cris Glazebrook 

Bethan's THESIS .PDF

Bethan's PhD Scholarship was the Mark Robinson PhD Scholarship 2011 at the University of Nottingham, titled: 'Development and evaluation of an online intervention for the treatment of depression in university students.' Click on this link to Read More ...

Bethan's Final Report

Young adulthood is a vulnerable period for the onset and development of depression, and is a common mental health problem experienced by university students. Depression can significantly impact and impair students’ academic performance, social relationships, and general well-being. However students often do not seek professional help for their mental health for many reasons, including stigma about mental health and help-seeking and preferences for self-reliance. Students are highly connected to internet-enabled technologies, and online interventions present a useful strategy for helping managing depression and can address many reasons why they do not seek professional help. Mental health literacy is an umbrella term reflecting an individual’s beliefs, knowledge and attitudes relating to mental health, which assist in recognition, management and prevention of mental health problems. The aim of this PhD was to develop an evidenced-based psycho-educational online intervention for promoting mental health literacy for depression (“depression literacy”) and management of depression in Nottingham-based university students.

This online intervention was informed by evidence from several research projects and through literature review of depression in university students, help-seeking theory for mental health problems, and the role of mental health literacy in helping improve management and help-seeking for depression.
  • Study One involved a systematic review and meta-analysis of evidence for computer- and web based interventions to improve common mental health problems in university student populations. 
  •  Study Two involved identifying the mental health needs of the intervention’s target population through a survey which profiled depressive and anxiety symptoms and related help-seeking behaviours with 758 local university students. Expanding on this, 
  • Study Three used involved interviews with students to explore their perceptions of changes in their mental well-being since entering university, factors affecting their mental well-being, and how they coped and managed their mental health within education. Findings from these two studies suggested friends were an important source of help. This led to: 
  • Study Four, which involved a survey exploring students’ helping actions to support a hypothetical friend experiencing depressive symptoms. Findings from these four studies contributed into the development of the online intervention, based on Rickwood et al.’s (2005) four-step process model of help-seeking. 
  • Study Five describes the development and brief testing of the online intervention - a website named “Managing Your Mood Online” (MYMO). This website consisted of ten sections reflecting different aspects of mental health literacy. This thesis demonstrates the first stage of a process to design an appropriate and relevant resource for Nottingham-based university students. 
After completing the PhD, my first appointment was as a Research Fellow in the NIHR MindTech Health Technology Co-Operative, based at the University of Nottingham. This group is a national centre focussing on the development, adoption and evaluation of new technologies for mental healthcare and dementia (www.mindtech.org.uk), and I am working within its Children and Young People’s Theme that focuses on the development and evaluation of digital technologies for children and young people’s mental health and well-being. I am also a member of the advisory board for Students Against Depression (www.studentsagainstdepression.org), a website developed and maintained by the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust (www.cwmt.org.uk).