Basic Research

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International research leaders in genomic psychiatry, translational research, health services research and the neurosciences.

Partnerships with a network of community agencies, healthcare leaders and regional academic institutions help us leverage science, innovation, and leadership – and to develop new ways to practice. Our workforce engages in the “best questions” for achieving targeted outcomes and learns a process for quality and self-improvement for the practice of psychiatry for this decade and over a lifetime.

Sequencing Total Genomic DNA

Michele Pato, MD, is co-heading a multi-institutional team that is sequencing total genomic DNA from at least 10,000 ethnically diverse individuals to explore schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The study draws upon DNA divided evenly from patients with these cases as well as psychiatrically normal controls. The team will also conduct association analyses within these and other available sequence data, and through genotype imputation with the Psychiatric Genome-wide Association Study Consortium comprising approximately 100,000 additional genomes, to identify genetic variants associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Genetic Basis of Behavior

James Knowles, PhD, examines the genetic basis of behavior, cognition and affect. Most of his laboratory’s studies search for genetic factors that have an etiological role in psychiatric illness. To do so, his research team participates in large genetic studies of the “complex” or non-Mendelian genetic disorders as well as analyzing several “simple” or Mendelian disorders. His laboratory’s achievements include discovering the genes for two Mendelian disorders: RP14, a gene for autosomal recessive Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) on chromosome 6p; and PPH1, the gene for pulmonary arterial hypertension, an autosomal dominant disorder.

Predictors of Major Depressive Disorder in Disaster Survivors

Anand Pandya, MD, is examining major depressive disorder (MDD) in disaster survivors. MDD is usually the second most common disorder among survivors, with reported prevalence as high as 45%. However, it has been markedly under-studied by comparison to the literature on post traumatic stress disorder. Pandya is investigating pre-disaster and disaster experience predictors of post-disaster MDD, post-disaster symptoms that may serve as indicators of full MDD, and coping behaviors in depressed survivors that prospectively predict current MDD in follow-ups years later. Given the scarcity of clinical resources and the chaotic nature of disaster response, these results can inform future strategies to target those most at risk.

Autism Spectrum Disorders and Schizophrenia

The laboratory of Daniel B. Campbell, PhD, works to define the functional genetic variants that contribute to the etiology and treatment effectiveness of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and schizophrenia. So far, he has shown that the regulator of g-protein signaling 4 genotype, which contributes to schizophrenia risk, can predict the effectiveness of antipsychotic medications. In his studies of ASD, he has shown that a variation in the sequence of the gene for the mesenchymal epithelial transition (MET) receptor tyrosine kinase is strongly associated with autism in a subset of patients who also have gastrointestinal conditions. With these and other findings, the ultimate goal is to better understand the causes of these disorders and to improve the ability to treat them on an individualized basis.

Autism and Air Pollution

Daniel B. Campbell, PhD also served as senior author of a study revealing that exposure to air pollution appears to increase the risk for autism among people who carry a genetic disposition for the neurodevelopmental disorder.