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Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research

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

International teams located there study severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, analysing genetics and brain chemistry. The aim is to generate a knowledge base for innovative treatments for these devastating conditions.

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


Not enough is known about the causes of mental health problems, how they can be prevented, and why certain treatments do or do not work. SANE believes that research into the intricate workings of the mind and brain is the only way to understand, change and offer hope to those who suffer from mental illness.

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

“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.”

His Majesty King Charles III

Research into mind and body

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

On average, the UK invests £115 million per year into mental health research, 5.5% of the total health research spend. About £9.75 is spent on research for every person affected by mental illness – over 100 times less than cancer investments.

As part of our vision, we wanted to create a centre of excellence devoted to investigating mental illness, realised with the opening of POWIC in 2003 by King Charles III, then HRH The Prince of Wales.

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.

It houses a laboratory and office space, as well as conference and library facilities, providing a forum for teams collaborating at the site. SANE is 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

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

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

The Subramanium Study Centre located at POWIC brings together global experts from a range of fields and industries, across the public and private sectors, to advance the study of mental health through original research.

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

Research teams at POWIC

Treatment-resistant depression

Michael Browning, Professor of Computational Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, will conduct research into new drug treatments and therapeutic interventions into treatment resistant depression (TRD). 

Professor Rupert McShane, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, will be using two Transcranial Magnetic Simulation (TMS) machines installed at POWIC and converting two laboratories into three pods for the administration of ketamine, working with NHS patients on clinical trials researching the effectiveness of the drug on people suffering from TRD and anorexia.


Philip McGuire, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, and his team have received an £11.5 million grant from the Welcome Trust to conduct and coordinate clinical trials in the UK on the effectiveness of treating people with psychosis, predominantly schizophrenia, with cannabidiol (CBD).

This will be the largest global study to date, involving 1,000 participants at 35 centres. Subjects will be coming from three groups: those with early onset symptoms; those who have experienced one episode; and those who have enduring psychosis and have not responded to existing treatments.

Brain health in order adults

Research will be undertaken using imaging to identify depression and dementia in older adults, with people being scanned in the adjacent imaging centre to identify those at risk.

Medical education

Training of doctors and psychiatrists will be undertaken at POWIC, including in the use of automated delivery of virtual reality to enhance psychological therapy for people with persecutory delusions.


These areas of activity reflect SANE’s original vision of POWIC as a centre of excellence, hosting scientists from different disciplines and cultures to stimulate new ideas and disseminate education, awareness and information about mental illness to scientists and the public, acting as a “flagship of hope for researchers, professionals, patients and families”.

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