Accelerating Innovative Psychiatric Drug Discovery

Addressing Unmet Patient Needs Connecting the UK Life Sciences Ecosystem Leading the Conversation for the Drug Discovery Sector
Accelerating Innovative Psychiatric Drug Discovery

The scale and impact of mental illness across society is immense. 

In 2020, the number of people living with anxiety and depressive disorders rose significantly because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Latest figures now show that one in four(3) adults and one in ten children experience mental health illnesses each year.

There is an urgent need to address the unmet therapeutic needs of people living with mental health conditions.

Whilst we have treatments for some mental health disorders...
... they do not work for everyone, and side effects can be difficult to tolerate

We need to explore and understand the underlying disease biology to unlock new potential treatment targets and broaden the treatment options for people living with mental health conditions. 

The lack of novel drug targets, combined with the challenge of validating them pre-clinically and the high failure rate in clinical trials, has led to reduced investment in drug discovery and development in the last decade.

Psychiatric drug discovery must be a truly collaborative process to be successful.

All too often, industry and academia work exclusively, developing transformative work in isolation of each other and only building alliances at a later stage when necessary.

Cross-disciplinary partnerships cultivated earlier in the process can take a project in a whole new direction for the benefit of those working on the science, the patient and the investor.

That is where the Psychiatry Consortium comes in. Launched in 2019, it is a strategic collaboration of leading medical research charities and pharmaceutical companies focusing on the challenge of identifying and validating novel drug targets. Why? To address the unmet therapeutic needs of people living with mental health conditions.
Lea Milligan


MQ: Transforming Mental Health

“At the moment, too many people living with a mental illness are going without the effective help they need. There has been a dearth of innovation in drug treatments with most drugs developed in the 1970s and ’80s and many being associated with varying degrees of unwanted side effects. The Psychiatry Consortium is an important step in stimulating much-needed advances in the area. Throughout the process, MQ will ensure that people affected by mental illness are at the heart of the research funded.”

The Consortium, managed by Medicines Discovery Catapult and supported by Wellcome, has been established to create effective drug discovery collaborations between academia and industry.

It is a unique strategic collaboration of two leading medical research charities, eight pharmaceutical companies and two CROs with a common vision to accelerate psychiatric drug discovery; a disease area with limited effective medicines and high patient unmet need.

Collectively, its Partners aim to provide opportunities for funding, collaboration, and knowledge exchange, to revitalise drug discovery in psychiatry by strengthening collaborations across the sector.

The Psychiatry Consortium believes that the challenges facing psychiatric research require the insights and involvement of individuals across all aspects of the research landscape…

… People with lived experience of mental health, academic researchers, clinicians, regulators, and industry scientists, to name a few.

They must all be involved in developing solutions to overcome the hurdles to psychiatric drug development.

The Consortium’s engagement activities, supported by Wellcome, bring together leaders from all areas to cultivate innovation across the drug discovery landscape.

As a collective, the Psychiatry Consortium Partners have committed approximately £4 million in research funding to deliver up to 10 high-value drug discovery projects. This funding unlocks unique access to drug discovery expertise and capabilities, project development and delivery support, and project management resources.

So far, the Psychiatry Consortium partners have collectively funded three projects with a total value of over £1m, delivered across five academic research centres, SMEs and CROs worldwide. 

It has a pipeline of projects in development and has engaged the academic community globally on key challenges in psychiatric drug discovery.

These international collaborative efforts drive innovative research and provide unique opportunities for academic researchers to work in partnership with industry experts to turn scientific ideas into drug discovery projects.

400+ research institutions engaged

3 projects funded

100+ facilitated introductions between PC Partners and global Academics

139 project proposals reviewed and de-risked

The Psychiatry Consortium has been represented at multiple international conferences, delivered webinars and workshops for global opinion leaders, and hosted a virtual symposium with over 1,000 registrants.
The recently published "Guiding Principles for Robust Target Validation in Psychiatry", highlights key considerations deemed important by the drug discovery community when building a target validation package for novel therapeutic targets. 
In March 2023, the Consortium won the Bionow ‘Partnership and Collaboration Award’ in recognition of its international collaborative efforts to drive innovative research and provide unique opportunities for academic researchers to collaborate with industry experts, turning scientific ideas into drug discovery projects.

Improving Translational Relevance in Preclinical Psychopharmacology

In 2021, the Psychiatry Consortium, British Pharmacological Society and Laboratory Animal Sciences...

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3 inter-disciplinary workshops

15 international conference presentations

1 cross-sector working group

2 guidance documents

10 webinars

3 symposia

Overview of the global therapeutic pipeline

2 strategic initiatives

2 awards

The Psychiatry Consortium’s projects are developed and delivered as true collaborations, which closely involve researchers and funding partners from the initial application stage through to project delivery.

Its model combines the depth of scientific understanding of the researcher, with the breadth of drug discovery knowledge of its network of industry partner organisations, allowing it to turn scientific ideas into drug discovery projects.

Dr Ekta Patel

Partnership Manager

Psychiatry Consortium

Ekta is responsible for the management of the Psychiatry Consortium.

Ekta is a translational scientist with over eight years of drug discovery research experience in both academic and industrial roles.

Combining her scientific knowledge and experience of working across SMEs, academic research groups and pharmaceutical companies, Ekta provides in-depth support to our collaborators to develop and deliver our portfolio of projects.

Alongside her role at the Psychiatry Consortium, Ekta is a member of the Greater Manchester HRA Research Ethics Committee and is a strong advocate of patient involvement throughout the drug discovery process.

For its Partners, the Consortium offers a vehicle to identify, validate and ultimately de-risk novel targets in psychiatry.

Medicines Discovery Catapult, as the managing partner, facilitates this process by identifying the researchers who are discovering those novel targets and building a framework of expertise and resource around them to support them through the early stages of the drug discovery pipeline.

Gary Gilmour

VP Preclinical Neuroscience

Compass Pathways

“The Psychiatry Consortium is bringing leading experts and resources together to speed up and reinvigorate the drug discovery process, and we are proud to be part of it. By working towards a common goal, we can bring evidence-based innovations to the people who need them, as quickly as possible.”​

The scientific and strategic leadership of the Psychiatry Consortium has created a global focal point for psychiatric drug discovery, enabled a deeper understanding into the challenges and opportunities in this area and created a highly engaged Consortium and external academic community.

Through the continued guidance and leadership of the Consortium, and through bringing all aspects of the research community together to address key challenges, there is now a clear path forward to accelerate psychiatric drug discovery, bringing much-needed treatments to patients, faster.

Visit the website for more information.