A KMMS study led by Professor Sukhwinder Shergill, Director of Research at KMMS and Director of Research and Innovation for the mental health trust Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership (KMPT), has been awarded £1,754,127 by Wellcome for the research project: Sleep and Circadian Health Disturbances in Psychosis and Depression.

This award is part of the recent Wellcome Mental Health Award call out on integrating sleep and circadian science into our understanding and treatment of anxiety, depression and psychosis. KMMS is a joint initiative between the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University. This award by Wellcome is one of the largest Wellcome grants either university has received.

Professor Shergill has brought together a world leading multi-disciplinary team, working with Professor Teresa C D’Oliveira, Professor of Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University, Professor Gurprit Lall, Deputy Director of the Natural Sciences Division at the University of Kent and Professor of Neuroscience at Medway School of Pharmacy, Professor Adam Hampshire and Dr Peter Hellyer from Imperial College London and Professor Daniel Joyce from the University of Liverpool and a team at Kings College London.

We are delighted to receive this award from Wellcome for our project. We are honoured to be one of the teams from across the world selected by the Wellcome Trust for this Mental Health Award which will look into a underrepresented yet incredibly important interaction between the impact of sleep impairment upon mental health.

Professor Teresa C D’OliveiraProfessor of Psychology

The research project aims to improve our understanding of the dynamic relationship between circadian biomarkers, sleep, cognition, and mental health.

Circadian rhythms regulate and reflect many biological processes within our bodies, including the internal the rhythms that control cycles such as sleep and wakefulness, body temperature and hormone secretion.

Through a greater understanding of this process the research team hope to develop treatments that will meet the outstanding challenge of normalising sleep/circadian rhythm related behaviour in the early stages of psychotic and depressive illness. Addressing an unmet challenge of the role of sleep and circadian health in potentially triggering and prolonging adverse mental health outcomes in healthy and clinical populations.

KMPT and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM) are also supporting the study with patient engagement and support with the recruitment of participants for this research.

Professor Sukhi Shergill said: “We are extremely grateful to the Wellcome for this award to undertake this innovative study in circadian disturbance in patients diagnosed with depression and/or schizophrenia. It is challenging to start clinical research within a brand new environment, so it makes it even more special that this is the first such grant for the new medical school.

"We are very fortunate to be working with an excellent team of colleagues from both our parent universities - University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University as well as Imperial College, the University of Liverpool and Kings College London.”

Professor Gurprit Lall said: “One of our key ambitions at the University of Kent is to develop and grow in the area of health, serving our local communities and wider afield. Our partnership with KMMS has been a huge step towards this goal in both education and research. This collaborative Wellcome project is an exciting venture for both us and KMMS, supporting the rapid growth of applied clinical research within Kent and Medway."