1. Could you tell us about your research? Is there something you are particularly proud of and what impact has it had? What are your future plans for this research?
My research is focused on understanding the role of psychosocial stress in the aetiology and clinical course of bipolar disorder and related psychiatric and medical disorders, exploiting interdisciplinary methods. Bipolar disorder is a serious life-long psychiatric disorder which is characterised by extreme fluctuations in mood ranging from depression (e.g., low mood and suicidality) to hypomania or mania (e.g., elation and irritability). My research falls into three main themes.
Gene-stressful life events interplay in mood disorders
My novel studies were the first to explore and find the impact of stressful life events on bipolar depression but not mania, were significantly moderated by several genetic variants: BDNF Val66Met (Hosang et al., 2010) and COMT Val158Met (Hosang et al., 2017). I conducted the first and highly cited meta-analysis on the BDNF Val66Met -life stress interaction in depression, the novel results were stronger for stressful life events compared to child adversity (Hosang et al., 2014).
In the future I plan to extend this work by using more innovative genetic methods (polygenetic risk scores, genome-wide DNA methylation). The results of such work may aid the identification of those most sensitive to stress and who would benefit most from intervention efforts.
Childhood adversity and medical morbidity
I have shown that childhood adversity increases the odds of multimorbidity (i.e., diagnosis of 2 or more long-term conditions) by up to 8 times in bipolar disorder (Hosang et al., 2017). A pattern I showed for the first time is not detected for recurrent depression or in controls (Hosang et al., 2018).
My future plans will build on this novel work by investigating mechanisms that underpin the childhood adversity-multimorbidity relationship in bipolar disorder. The results of which will aid the identification of intervention targets in terms of mechanisms and vulnerable groups.
Hypomania in youths
An emerging approach to investigating bipolar disorder’s aetiology is to examine high-risk adolescents based on hypomanic symptom presentation. My work has shown that hypomanic symptoms are associated with other psychopathological symptoms (Hosang et al., 2017) and psychiatric disorders (Hosang et al., under review). My innovative twin study found that up to 29% of the genetic factors for hypomania could also be attributed Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD] symptoms (Hosang et al., 2019). Highlighting the degree of overlap and distinction between these phenotypes, contributes to the debate surrounding the bipolar disorder-ADHD relationship.
My current and future projects are focused on exploring the validity of using sub-clinical adolescent hypomanic symptoms in community samples to investigate the early manifestations, developmental trajectories and aetiology of bipolar disorder.
Dr Hosang’s research focuses on the impact of life stress (stressful life events and childhood adversity) on the development and course of mental (bipolar disorder and major depression) and physical illnesses (e.g., cardiovascular disease) as well as their comorbidity/multimorbidity. Dr Hosang has examined gene-stress interplay within this context and this work reflects SMD’s strategic research area of Environment and Health as well as Life-Long Health. Dr Hosang’s other research interest is centred on the early manifestations of bipolar disorder specifically hypomanic symptoms among youths in the community. The outcomes of this research inform work on the prediction and prevention of bipolar disorder and related illnesses— Nominator
2. Could you tell us about any citizenship activities, e.g. mentoring, being members of advisory panels, medical societies, public policy advocacy, journals, contributions to equality and diversity, etc., that you have been involved in?
This year I have been elected as a co-chair of the Early-Mid Career Committee at the International Society for Bipolar Disorders. I am also serving as a member of Experts by Experience Committee at the International Society for Bipolar Disorders.
Within Wolfson Institute of Population Health Sciences I am a member of Institutionalised Racism Working Group at the Centre for Psychiatry & Mental Health. In this role I am currently leading the analyses of our student data to examine whether there are ethnic differences in educational achievement on our MSc programmes.
I organised and chaired the'#TimesUp Gender Inequality & Women’s Mental Health' event which was funded by the ESRC as part of their Festival of Social Science (2018). As part of this undertaking I published an editorial 'Gender discrimination, victimisation and women’s mental health' in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
In 2016 I delivered the ‘Creating Mentally Healthy Cities’ workshop as part of the United Nations' University’s Urban Thinkers Campus event. Outcomes of this workshop led to the development of a policy brief on urban design and mental health at the UN Habitat III policy summit.
Awards, fellowships and media engagements
- 2019: Samuel Gershon Junior Investigator Award, International Society for Bipolar Disorder
- 2014: Travel award from National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA], Division of Epidemiology, Statistics & Prevention Research [DESPR] to attend the American Psychopathological Association conference
- 2013: Eli Lilly International Young Investigators Fellowship in Bipolar Disorder, International Society for Bipolar Disorders
- 2005: John Ives Memorial Prize for the best undergraduate psychology dissertation
- 2010-2012: ESRC and MRC Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship entitled: ‘Social, psychological & genetic resilience to adversity in bipolar disorder’
- 2015: Everyday Emergencies research and campaign commissioned by Direct Line included TV interviews on Sunrise (Sky News) and London Live, radio interviews on various shows including LBC.
- 2015: Advent Anxiety campaign commissioned by Direct Line: Radio interviews including BBC Radio Mark Forrest Show and The Breakfast Show with Penny Smith & Paul Ross (BBC Radio London).
- Hosang, GM, Lichtenstein, P, Ronald A, et al (2019). Association of genetic and environmental risks for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with hypomanic symptoms in youths. JAMA Psychiatry, 76(11):1150-1158
- Hosang, GM, Fisher, HL, et al. (2018). Childhood maltreatment and adult medical morbidity in mood disorders: a comparison of unipolar depression with bipolar disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 213 (5), 645-653
- Hosang, GM, Cardno, A, et al (2017). Characterization and structure of hypomania in a British nonclinical adolescent sample. Journal of Affective Disorders, 207, 228-235
- Hosang, GM, Shiles, C, et al. (2014). Interaction between stress and the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism in depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Medicine, 12:7
- Hosang, GM, Uher, R, et al. (2010). Stressful life events and BDNF in Bipolar Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders. 125, 345–349
Note from the nominee:
I was on maternity leave from June 2019 until June 2020. I returned to work during the pandemic (which was quite an adjustment). Due to hiring freezes I was required to take on a substantial amount of additional teaching responsibilities.