Can genomics enhance care and quality of life in psychosis? Investigating the cost-effectiveness of pharmacogenomics in mental health.

John Grace QC PhD Scholarship 2018:  Division of Psychiatry, University College London

Supervisors: Prof Elvira Bramon, Dr Barbara Barrett


More than 20 medications have been shown to be effective in treating psychosis. However, these medications can cause side effects, causing patients to stop taking them. Genetic differences can influence the way patients respond to their medicine, but these genetic differences are not usually considered by doctors when they prescribe medications. It is possible that genetic testing could improve the way we adjust the dose of these medications to help reduce side effects. Pharmacogenetic testing is not used in UK mental health due to insufficient evidence of its benefits and of its cost-effectiveness, thus, this project involves running the first UK clinical trial offering a pharmacogenomic personalised intervention for psychosis and an investigation of the cost-effectiveness of pharmacogenomics in mental health. This study will provide much needed evidence for a new NHS pharmacogenomics service currently under development by Genomics England, in which supervisor Prof Elvira Bramon is collaborating.


Study Aims:

  1. To investigate if genetics-guided antipsychotic treatment improves quality of life and other clinical outcomes.

  2. Does genetics help to reduce polypharmacy and adverse drug reactions?

  3. Is the genetics intervention cost-effective compared to treatment as usual?

  4. Investigate the acceptability of using genetics to inform treatment amongst patients and clinicians.


Start Date: September 2021


Research Student: Noushin Saadullah Khani

Hello, my name is Noushin and I am starting a multidisciplinary PhD covering mental health, pharmacogenomics and health economics at University College London in September 2021 funded by Mental Health Research UK and the Economic and Social Research Council (UBEL Doctoral Training Programme).


I completed an Integrated Master’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Surrey, where I developed a passion for genomics. My Master’s research project investigated the causal relationship between adiponectin and diabetes (type II diabetes and gestational diabetes) using genetic variants as instrumental variables in a Mendelian randomisation analysis. My research interests include understanding how genetic variation impacts the drug response and genetics-guided therapy for psychosis.


I am thrilled to have the opportunity to carry out this project and I would like to express my gratitude to Mental Health Research UK for co-funding this project.