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Our First Newsletter

It has been six months since the Circadian Mental Health Network launch event. If you missed our launch event, you can read all about it on our blog. Below is a summary of some of the work we have been doing over the past six months.

Our Engagement Work

We have been working closely with The McPin Foundation to incorporate the views of individuals with lived experience of mental health conditions. We have had the pleasure of working with a fantastic Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) comprised of individuals from many different backgrounds, ages, and experiences. Working with the LEAP has already provided great insight into how to engage with different communities, and the LEAP themselves have highlighted several potential research questions that are important to individuals with lived experience of mental health.

In partnership with the James Lind Alliance, we will soon be releasing a public survey to identify what are the questions that are important to people with lived experience of mental health conditions and disturbed circadian rhythms/sleep and vice versa. To ensure this survey will be relevant, accessible and engaging for everyone, we will be working closely with a Steering Group. Members of our Steering Group include individuals with lived experience of mental health conditions, individuals with lived experience of disrupted circadian rhythms and sleep, clinicians, patient advocates, and research community members.

Working with both The McPin Foundation and the James Lind Alliance, we will soon be sharing our public survey to identify the important questions for research in the field of circadian rhythms, sleep and mental health according to those who are impacted by this. We hope you can help us share this survey widely.

Data Standardisation

As highlighted during our launch event, one objective of the Network is to set standards for data collection, data curation and data sharing by assisting members of the research community in adopting FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) principles. We will achieve this by providing training and consultations, conducting data curation, and focusing on standardizing metadata and methods within the field of chronobiology.

While metadata standards are crucial for ensuring Interoperability and Reusability, but creating comprehensive metadata often perceived as a potential time-consuming task and a barrier to public sharing. We propose an approach that prioritizes simplicity and practicality: the development of README templates tailored for specific data types and species. You can read more about our rationale and the details of the proposed work in this recent Clocks & Sleep article written by Network team members.

Our ongoing work is also accessible on GitHub. We welcome feedback, suggestions and the involvement of Network members through the GitHub issues channel.

Supporting Early Career Researchers

We are establishing an ECR Advisory Board to help us ensure that the views and experiences of ECRs are taken into account throughout this objective. We welcome ECRs who are interested in being part of this Advisory Board to get in touch here.

We will soon launch a funding call to support ECR activities such as mentoring visits, lab visits, cross-training, and networking activities (likely to be £30k initially for awards of up to £5k). This call will be repeated and expanded next year. More details coming soon, so watch this space.

Building A Sustainable And Inclusive Network

We have been engaging with the wider research community to introduce the Circadian Mental Health Network and begin to build relationships which will help to create a sustainable and inclusive Network. The Network has also been represented at various events and conferences over the past six months. For example, we introduced the Network to the chronobiology research community during Clock Club in April. We have also been engaging with partners focused on ensuring the involvement of lived experience individuals in research, including Bipolar Scotland and The Sleep Charity.

We hope to continue to build strong relationships with the wider community in the future.

Featured Network Team Member

Dr Tomasz Zielinski is a Data Specialist working to establish our data standards. Tomasz advocates for Open Research and adoption of FAIR principles, and to this aim he co-created a Carpentry-style course: “FAIR in (biological) practice”. Following on that, Tomasz would like to help members of our network to achieve “Better research by better sharing”.

He, along with other Network team members, has recently published an opinion article in Clocks & Sleep, where he proposes development of README templates tailored for specific model organism and experimental assays to provide researchers with a clear structure for capturing the required metadata without requiring specialized technical knowledge or software tools. He hopes to start a discussion about this approach and invites contributors and collaborators to propel this project.

Tomasz is also the main developer of BioDare2, a public repository for circadian, biological data, providing a platform for data sharing and period analysis.

Highlighted Projects

HELIOS-BD. Lithium’s mechanism in bipolar disorder: investigating the light hypersensitivity hypothesis. Are people with bipolar disorder (BD) hypersensitive to evening light stimuli and does Lithium impact this? Co-production with individual with lived experience of bipolar is a major aspect of this project.

AMBIENT-BD. Ambient and passive collection of sleep and circadian rhythm data in BD to understand symptom trajectories and clinical outcomes. The project will work closely with the BD community in Scotland to optimise the use of innovative data collection methods for sleep and circadian rhythms.

AMBIENT-TEENS. Acquiring rich longitudinal passive sleep data across childhood and adolescence. This project uses a co-designed research approach, tailored across age 8-18, to develop and evaluate an innovative passive sleep data collection method that has the potential to be used at scale in future studies of adolescent health. The team is collaborating with Youth Panel Advisory Groups to ensure this new technology is best suited to a young audience.

FamilySleeps . This project investigates circadian rhythms in families in the context of genetic, environmental, and social synchrony in families with neurodevelopmental conditions. The project aims to foster an inclusive approach to this research and broaden engagement with less represented voices in research and academia.

Upcoming Events

Members of the Network will also be attending the upcoming Clock Club on the 6th October, please come and chat with us. You can find more information about Clock Club here.

You can find out more about the work of the Network via our blog, and our social media. If you’d like to get involved with this work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can also find more ways to get involved in the Network on our website.

You can also download the PDF version of the Newsletter below.

Circadian Mental Health Network September Newsletter
Download PDF • 537KB

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