Adult 18+

Paid opportunity to join a Lived Experience Advisory Panel for a study on the connection between the immune system and psychosis

Physical health • Psychosis

What’s the project?

The IMAT study

Antipsychotic drugs are the usual treatment for psychosis. They can effectively reduce symptoms of psychosis in the short-term. However, they have significant side-effects impacting people’s day-to-day life.

Some have to stop taking them due to these side-effects. As a result, some of these people may become unwell again. To address this, we need to better understand the biology of psychosis and the specific ways that antipsychotic drugs act to reduce symptoms.

There is increasing evidence that the immune system may play a role in psychosis. Our immune system typically defends us against threats (such as a virus), but in psychosis, there may be an incorrect immune response against the brain. However, we do not know whether this is a cause or consequence of psychosis.

Likewise, we do not know whether antipsychotic drugs have an effect on the immune system, nor whether this causes the reduction in symptoms. Antipsychotic drugs could act by changing the way that the immune system responds in the brain and elsewhere in the body.

IMAT is a seven-year study, funded by the Wellcome Trust and led by The Francis Crick Institute, alongside King’s College London, The University of Oxford and The McPin Foundation. It aims to find out if, and how, the immune system can influence how people respond to antipsychotic drugs.

The study will do this by taking blood samples (and in a small number of cases fluid from the spine using a procedure called a ‘lumbar puncture’) and looking at the immune system before and after someone starts taking an antipsychotic drug.

The research team at The Francis Crick Institute will then further investigate the connection between the immune system and psychosis using mice (please see our statement below regarding animal research).

If they can show causal connections between the immune system and psychosis it could guide the future development of more targeted immune-based interventions with fewer side-effects.

Further information

Find out more

McPin is collaboratively leading lived experience involvement in this study alongside the University of Oxford. One of the ways we will do this is by recruiting and supporting a Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP).

The IMAT LEAP will comprise a diverse group of people with relevant lived experience, meeting regularly over the course of the study.

They will provide advice and feedback on various aspects of the study, such as ethics, accessible materials to help recruit people to take part in the study, a study website, and ideas for future research.

The IMAT LEAP will meet in person, at a London-based location four times in the first year, then three times a year, for the next seven years.

Various pieces of ad-hoc work will also be offered to members in-between meetings, with appropriate support, training and development provided as required.

We will also establish the IMAT Involvement Network – a wider group of people with relevant lived experience – who will input on a more ‘as and when’ basis. This means people living anywhere across the UK can still input into the study.

We are looking for seven people with relevant lived experience to become IMAT LEAP members:

  • Direct lived experience of psychosis and/or lived experience of being a carer, family member or close friend of someone with psychosis.
  • Interest in ‘biomedical research’ – the investigation of mechanisms underlying a condition, with the aim of finding new ways to prevent or treat the condition.
  • Able to travel to in-person meetings held at a London-based location, likely The Crick Institute which is opposite Kings Cross station.
  • Access to a computer, tablet, or phone, webcam, and stable internet connection to join any online meetings with video.

For safety, all of our online meetings require people to have their video on. If you have any worries about this, please do email and we can discuss what support we have to help with this.

Mental health issues affect everyone, but recruitment to LEAPs do not always reflect this. We actively encourage applications from systemically underrepresented groups, and those who have not been involved in research before.

  • In-person LEAP meetings typically last 3.5-4 hours, for which you will be reimbursed £100 for your attendance and any required pre-reading.
  • Ad-hoc work and any online meetings will be paid at a rate of £25 per hour.
  • Reasonable travel and subsistence expenses will be reimbursed.

  • To apply please complete the application form and email it to Harry Dyson at the following email address: [email protected]
  • Please indicate on your application form:
    • Understanding that your application form and contact details will need to be shared with Thomas Kabir at the University of Oxford as the co-lead of lived experience involvement on this study.
    • If you would like to be considered for this IMAT Involvement Network if not selected as an IMAT LEAP member.
  • Accessibility – please contact Harry by email or phone 07851 373238 if you need any assistance completing this application or would like to discuss alternative ways to apply.

Deadline: Friday 22nd March 5pm

  • You will receive a reply confirming receipt of your application within the day, excluding weekends.
  • Please note a period of annual leave over Easter from Mon 25th March – Mon 1st April, after which all applications will be reviewed and we aim to inform individuals of the outcome within 1-2 weeks.
  • Before joining the LEAP, we will offer you a call with a member of McPin staff. This is purely so you can meet us, ask us any questions, and for us to ask you about any accessibility needs or support you need from us.
Application form

The McPin Foundation is a collaborator on the IMAT study. This study is comprised of three objectives, and one of these objectives involves animal research.

Neither McPin nor any of the LEAP members recruited by McPin will have any involvement with the animal research component of the study.

We considered the implications carefully for our staff and LEAP members before joining this collaboration. We entered it knowing that it was the first time we had joined a study which included animal research.

In our collaboration with this study, the McPin Foundation is acting solely to ensure meaningful, inclusive and safe lived experience involvement in the aspects of the work involving service users.

Everyone involved will be given information about governance and regulation of the work, and will have joined freely – staff can choose not to work on this study.

More information about the animal research procedures and regulations are available on request.

Please note that the McPin Foundation regularly promotes opportunities on behalf of other institutions; we are not responsible for the continuation or contents of further correspondence with any project partners where we are not listed as the project main point of contact.

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