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Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research

SANE hosts pioneering research at our Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research, in the grounds of Warneford Hospital, Oxford.

International teams study severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, analysing genetics and brain chemistry.

This allows us to generate a knowledge base for innovative treatments for these devastating conditions.

Flagship of hope - Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research

Flagship of hope – The Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research


We don’t know enough about the causes of mental health problems; how we can prevent them, and why certain treatments do or don’t work. This means that people in the UK might be suffering from treatable or preventable illnesses.

Research into the intricate workings of the mind and brain is the only way to understand, change. This offers hope to those who suffer from mental illness.

Research is the most fundamental way to improve future lives. Whether it is helping doctors understand which antidepressants will work for a patient, or detecting the factors that cause serious mental illness.

Despite government pledges to give equal priority between physical and mental health, the disparity in research funding between the two is heavily disproportionate to the numbers of those affected.

“I have become much more aware of the enormous difficulties and problems that sufferers and their families have. There is a need to encourage research into mental illness to improve understanding of the causes and perhaps, eventually, to find a cure.”

HRH The Prince of Wales

Research into mind and body

Total expenditure on mental health research from 2014–2017 was around £497 million. On average £124 million per year. These figures translate to just over £9 spent on research per year, for each person affected by mental illness.

We wanted to expand our work to create a centre for excellence devoted to investigating mental illness. Our vision was realised when HRH The Prince of Wales opened POWIC in 2003.

The centre was funded by international sources, including through his nephew Prince Turki al-Faisal, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Sultan of Brunei and the Xylas shipping family.

POWIC houses a laboratory and office space, as well as conference and library facilities. The centre acts as an international forum with teams collaborating at the site.

We are the only mental health charity to have a research centre of this kind.

“We hope this centre will lead to more imaginative research into the causes of serious mental illness. It is also a symbol of space and beauty – a flagship of hope for the future.”                            

Marjorie Wallace CBE, SANE Founder and Chief Executive
HRH The Prince of Wales at opening of POWIC in 2003

HRH Prince Charles and SANE Founder and Chief Executive, Marjorie Wallace CBE, at the opening of POWIC in 2003

POWIC Partners

To increase the scope of POWIC as a centre for multi-disciplinary research, we partner with several organisations.

Pioneering treatments

The Subramanium Study Centre brings together global experts from different fields and industries, across public and private sectors.

A key focus is to support the discovery of new and practical treatments for various disorders, including clinical depression and schizophrenia. Detailed mental health data is used to provide a unique ’fingerprint’ to seek common illness traits. These are analysed and used in clinical tests to develop future drug treatments.

Virtual reality

Professor Daniel Freeman

Professor Daniel Freeman, of Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry, investigates the nature and treatment of persecutory delusions and how psychological therapy can be enhanced via automated delivery in virtual reality (VR).

This pioneering research is part of a programme to improve cognitive-behavioural therapy for paranoia.

In gameChangeVR therapy, people with psychosis wear a headset and are taken to simulations of everyday situations they find difficult.

A virtual therapist helps participants to learn how to think, feel, and behave differently. The VR therapy is being used with more than 400 patients with psychosis. A VR headset connected to software allows wearers to view a simulated everyday environment

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