“The backbone of any effective treatment is rigorous, empirically-tested data and a dedicated research team.”

Anxiety disorders of some form affect over 30% of us at some point in our lives, with a substantial burden for the sufferers and caregivers, alongside a significant economic impact throughout the world (recent figures suggest the annual worldwide cost of anxiety is $30 billion – more than the cost of depression).Despite this, causes, symptoms and cures for anxiety disorders are still not fully understood by clinicians, and it is estimated that only 20 – 30% of sufferers receive the correct diagnosis and adequate treatment.

David Baldwin, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Southampton, identified some of the issues facing anxiety research in his 2010 ‘manifesto’. He proposed the Anxiety Disorders Research Network, a collaborative effort across Europe with 22 research groups across 16 institutions in 10 countries, with support from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. In 2011, the ADRN progressed to become EUSARNAD: the European and South African Research Network in Anxiety Disorders, building on existing links and developing collaborative work with the University of Cape Town.

Researchers from institutions across the world will be able to draw on populations with different characteristics to those they have previously seen. They can examine these populations in facilities that were previously inaccessible, using the knowledge and expertise of others who had, in the past, been contactable only by inter-timezone email. All of these facts will contribute to a deeper understanding of anxiety, and the global issues facing its treatment and research.

In the short-term, EUSARNAD will produce first-rate research across these institutions, by placing individual exchange researchers in institutions with novel populations and methodologies. This unprecedented collaboration across institutions will allow important questions about anxiety to be examined in far more detail than previously possible.

Even more exciting are the more far-sighted implications of EUSARNAD. By allowing individual researchers opportunities exposure to new and additional insights, the scheme is developing international collaboration far beyond that previously seen. Leading researchers with both long-standing and wide-ranging interests in anxiety disorders are able to disseminate their considerable skills worldwide.

This unique facilitation of skills, communication and collaboration across the next generation of anxiety researchers surely bodes well in an effort to meet the challenges posed by these common, burdensome and costly conditions. More information about the scheme can be found here.The EUSARNAD programme has its origins in the Anxiety Disorders Research Network, which is a component of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Network Initiative (ECNP-NI). For more information about the ECNP please access its webpage www.ecnp.eu.