The Consortium on Vulnerability to Externalizing Disorders and Addictions (c-VEDA) is jointly funded by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and the Newton Grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC), United Kingdom. Principal Investigators for this study are Professor Gunter Schumann, King’s College London (KCL; London, UK) and Dr Vivek Benegal, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS; Bangalore, India). Project coordinators are Ms Yuning Zhang (London) and Ms Nilakshi Vaidya (India). The India-UK project is an international collaboration between Prof Gunter Schumann at King’s College London and Prof Vivek Benegal of the National Institute for Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore and our Indian partners from Bangalore, Mysore, Calcutta, Chandigarh and Manupur. Our aim is to investigate if environmental and genetic risk factors in industrialised countries and emerging societies shape brain function and behaviour in distinct ways, thus leading to different risk constellations and neurobehavioural trajectories for substance misuse and externalising disorders.

To address this aim we will establish a comprehensive database allowing comparative analyses of behavioural trajectories in childhood and adolescence, which provide a platform for sustained India-UK collaborations in mental health research. This platform will ascertain a great variety of environmental factors (exposome), biological samples as well as detailed neuroimaging analyses. We propose to compare insights into etiology and trajectories into substance abuse and externalising disorders gained from major European and UK studies including the longitudinal imaging genetics study “Reinforcement-related behaviour in normal development and psychopathology” (IMAGEN) and the “Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children” (ALSPAC) with existing Indian cohorts. The Indian cohorts, which comprise >14.000 participants aged 0-25 years include both high risk for substance misuse and population-based individuals from different social and environmental (rural and urban) backgrounds. They have been selected to cover the developmental period assessed in the UK cohorts, thus rendering the studies comparable. We aim to enrich the Indian cohorts, which have mainly been designed to investigate somatic disorders by adding a comprehensive assessment of mental health, externalising behaviour and substance use disorders involving psychometric and neuropsychological characterisation, as well as biological sampling in >10.000 participants with an age range of 6-23 years. Assessment instruments and protocols have been selected to allow comparison to IMAGEN and ALSPAC. We will randomly select among the cohort participants 1000 individuals aged between 10 and 23 years for neuroimaging, genetic and epigenetic analyses. We will control for socio-cultural and environmental influences by investigating determinants of substance abuse in SCAMP, a UK cohort recruiting 6.500 11-13 year old adolescents, >1000 of which are of South Asian descent. Together these data will allow for the most comprehensive comparative analysis of brain development and behaviour across different social and cultural environments to date.

c-VEDA is funded by an MRC-ICMR Newton Grant to Gunter Schumann and Vivek Benegal.