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The University of Southampton

Southampton leads international research exchange to help patients with anxiety disorders

Published: 7 February 2012

Researchers from the University of Southampton are leading an international research exchange that aims to develop a greater understanding of anxiety disorders and develop more effective treatments for patients.

The joint European and South African Research Network in Anxiety Disorders (EUSARNAD) study involves 13 centres of excellence for research into anxiety disorders and builds on the Anxiety Disorders Research Network (ADRN).

The research programme aims to strengthen existing links and develop collaborative work with the University of Cape Town, and will allow South African researchers first-hand experience of certain research methodologies in European centres.

Moreover, it will help European investigators to develop greater understanding of the origin of anxiety disorders and problems in their management within an emerging country, and enhance the relevance of translational research activity to other developing societies.

David Baldwin, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Southampton and Coordinator of the EUSARNAD study, says: "Anxiety disorders are common, distressing and impairing conditions - but many people remain undiagnosed and the standard of care received is usually sub-optimal.

"Although advances in genetics, neuroscience, pharmacology and psychology research have all deepened our understanding of anxiety disorders, on an individual basis it remains difficult to predict who will become troubled by symptoms and difficult to make treatment decisions which would result in better clinical outcomes for the patient. 

"An international collaborative network for sharing clinical databases, refining research methodologies, and developing and evaluating innovative treatments, which is what the EUSARNAD study aims to do, will give us a greater understanding of the causes of anxiety disorders and be able to develop and improve delivery of better treatments."

During the two-year study, individual exchange researchers will be affiliated to existing clinical research teams in each of the participating institutions. They will have access to the knowledge and expertise at each centre. They may also be able to attend postgraduate training programmes within the host institutions.

The first exchange researcher, Sonja Pasche, a clinical psychologist, joined the University of Southampton last October. She says: "Being based at Southampton has provided me with fantastic exposure to new ideas and clinical practice, and has allowed me to explore the overlap between anxiety and substance use disorders." 

This is the first time such a research exchange has been undertaken. South Africa offers many opportunities to gain new and additional insights into the mechanisms that underlie and maintain anxiety disorders.

Professor Baldwin comments: "Collaboration with the University of Cape Town in South Africa allows us access to unique genetic populations; a pattern of exposure to infectious agents which differs to that in Europe; and access to a range of clinical groups that allow important questions about anxiety to be explored in more detail than would be possible within Europe.

"The scheme could help harmonise research and clinical databases, improve research methodologies, refine prediction of clinical outcome and encourage evaluation of innovative interventions."

The EUSARNAD study is funded by the European Union through the Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES). EUSARNAD includes 13 centres of excellence for research into anxiety disorders at the universities of: Southampton, Bristol, Hertfordshire, Leiden, Groningen, Göttingen, Gothenburg, Uppsala, Tartu, Milan, Cantabria, Tel Aviv and Cape Town.

Notes for editors


  1. The Anxiety Disorders Research Network (ADRN) is an international multi-centre, independent collaborative cross-disciplinary research grouping, with support from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. It currently includes 22 research groups in 16 centres across 10 countries and aims to address currently unmet needs in anxiety and related disorders. This is achieved by harmonising research and clinical databases and refining research methodologies; by evaluating innovative interventions, particularly in previously neglected patient groups; and by building a platform for pragmatic randomised controlled effectiveness trials.
  2. David Baldwin is Professor of Psychiatry and Head of the Mental Health Group within the University of Southampton's Faculty of Medicine, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this academic year (2011/12). Since it opened its medical school in 1971, the University of Southampton has gained an outstanding reputation for medical education, training thousands of doctors and scientists, and performing cutting edge research in areas as diverse as cancer, osteoporosis, asthma and nutrition. The Faculty of Medicine leads learning and discovery for better health across the lifecourse, from before birth to the elderly.  There is also a strong focus on multi-disciplinary research with the physical sciences, including chemistry and engineering, and is one of the country's leading centres for clinical research, translating basic discoveries into clinical care in partnership with the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.


The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science, social sciences, health and humanities.  

With over 23,000 students, around 5000 staff, and an annual turnover well in excess of £435 million, the University of Southampton is acknowledged as one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine. We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

The University is also home to a number of world-leading research centres including the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Web Science Trust and Doctoral training Centre, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute and is a partner of the National Oceanography Centre at the Southampton waterfront campus.

For further information contact:

Becky Attwood , Media Relations, University of Southampton, Tel: 023 8059 5457, email:

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