The John Cade Fellowship: Modifiable risk factors for serious mental illness

Mcgrath, John J. (2014) The John Cade Fellowship: Modifiable risk factors for serious mental illness. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 48 1: 13-16. doi:10.1177/0004867413515059


Author Mcgrath, John J.
Title The John Cade Fellowship: Modifiable risk factors for serious mental illness
Journal name Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0004-8674
1440-1614
Publication date 2014-01-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1177/0004867413515059
Volume 48
Issue 1
Start page 13
End page 16
Total pages 4
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage Publications
Language eng
Formatted abstract
While attending a conference a few years ago I had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the Museo Galileo in Florence. Amongst the displays of early telescopes, and the bizarre spectacle of Galileo’s preserved middle finger, I read a quote from the great scientist that stopped me in my tracks: ‘Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so’. At the souvenir shop I was able to buy a t-shirt with this particular quote. While my secular relic is not as intimate (nor defiant) as the grisly finger, this t-shirt gives me great comfort when jogging. Even nerdy psychiatry professors need heroes.

Australian researchers do not have to look far afield for inspiration. John Cade is a hero for Australian psychiatry (Cole and Parker, 2012; Mitchell and Hadzi-Pavlovic, 1999; Malhi and Gershon, 2009; Schioldann, 2009), and it is a great honour to receive a fellowship named after this pioneer. In this viewpoint, I will outline the scope of the work that will be supported by the John Cade Fellowship.

It was clear by the 1990s that the epidemiology of schizophrenia was much more interesting than previously thought (McGrath, 2007). Contrary to dogma, my research indicated that the incidence of the disorder varied widely (e.g. the high risk in dark-skinned migrants to the UK), and that schizophrenia affected men more than women (McGrath et al., 2004; McGrath, 2006). The oft-regurgitated mantra about schizophrenia affecting one in a 100, males and females equally, and with a constant incidence across all sites, was not supported by the data (McGrath, 2005). Many researchers had measured the incidence of schizophrenia, and my early work in systematic reviews was able to make measurable the variation in the incidence of this poorly understood group of disorders. As the field became more aware of the informative gradients in the epidemiology of schizophrenia, it was clear that we should now be able to generate candidate risk factors underpinning some of these gradients. It was time to generate new hypotheses that could explain the epidemiology of schizophrenia.

Coming up with innovative hypotheses is the easiest and most entertaining part of the scientific process. On the other hand, collecting the data to test (i.e. reject) the hypothesis is much harder. This is where we need to develop new instruments to measure the previously unmeasurable.
Keyword Epidemiology
prevention
schizophrenia
Q-Index Code CX
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Non HERDC
Queensland Brain Institute Publications
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