FemNAT-CD, an international research project funded by the European Commission and endorsed by the World Health Organisation will investigate the neurobiological and environmental factors implicated in female conduct disorder, a psychiatric condition that is characterized by severe antisocial and aggressive behaviour.
Under the coordination of Professor Christine Freitag (Goethe University, Frankfurt), several universities across Europe will collaborate, and the University of Birmingham is one of two sites primarily responsible for the collection of neuroimaging data. The Principal Investigator at the University of Birmingham is Dr Stephane De Brito and the local collaborators are Dr Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis, Dr Jessica Woodhams, Dr Amanda Wood, and Professor Tony Beech. Lab members include post-doctoral researcher Dr Jack Rogers and PhD students Roberta Clanton and Rosalind Baker.
In recent years, the number of girls with conduct disorder has increased in western societies. Conduct disorder is one of the most common reasons for referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and has a highly negative impact on the affected individual as well as society. Typical problems are teenage pregnancies, difficulties integrating into working life, drug abuse, delinquency and chronic health problems. Conduct disorder is also responsible for a high school dropout rate. FemNAT-CD, a large scale study, in which 17 research institutions collaborate, now aims to explore the mechanisms of this disorder in females and compare them to males. This study, as one of the largest in the world on conduct disorder, represents an unparalleled opportunity to comprehensively investigate conduct disorder in females and it is hoped that the results we will lay the groundwork for optimised sex-specific targets for prevention and intervention efforts.