Faculty

Research Discovers Three New Genetic Risk Markers of Depression

Hinxton, (Scicasts) — A study published today (March 2) in the American Journal of Psychiatry details the discovery of three additional genetic risk markers for depression, building on the discovery of two genetic risk factors in 2015.

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University, the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and Wellcome Sanger Institute have found that the contribution of genetic variations to depression may differ between people who have experienced serious adversities in their life and those who haven’t. By carrying out a genome-wide ...

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Major mental illnesses unexpectedly share brain gene activity, raising hope for better diagnostics and therapies

Mental illness affects one in six U.S. adults, but scientists’ sense of the underlying biology of most psychiatric disorders remains nebulous. That’s frustrating for physicians treating the diseases, who must also make diagnoses based on symptoms that may only appear sporadically. No laboratory blood test or brain scan can yet distinguish whether someone has depression or bipolar disorder, for example.

Now, however, a large-scale analysis of postmortem brains is revealing distinctive molecular traces in people with mental illness. This week, an ...

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Featured Faculty: B. Todd Webb, Ph.D.

Dr. B. Todd Webb, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University. His interest in behavioral genetics developed gradually over his academic career. He majored in biology at VCU but always had an interest in genetics. Over time, he became passionate about how complex systems work and later obtained his Ph.D. in human genetics. This allowed him to hone his skills while providing him opportunities to ...

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Featured Faculty: Judy Silberg, Ph.D.

Dr. Judy Silberg, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics. A fortuitous meeting with Drs. Lindon Eaves, D.Sc., Nick Martin, and Andrew Heath while working on her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University led to her life-long involvement in the field of behavior genetics. Her initial research interest began with the influence of genetic and environmental factors on pre- and peri-menstrual disorders using ...

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Genetic Overlap Between Major Depression and Obesity In Some Patients

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Patients with major depressive disorder who experience increases in appetite, weight, or both have a higher genetic risk for obesity-related traits such as high body-mass index (BMI) and elevated levels of leptin and inflammation, researchers suggest.

“As clinicians, we are well aware that depression is highly heterogeneous, and patients with the same diagnosis of major depressive disorder may present with very different symptom profiles,” Dr. Yuri Milaneschi of VU University Medical Center Amsterdam in the Netherlands ...

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Why does divorce run in families? The answer may be genetics

Children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced when compared to those who grew up in two-parent families — and genetic factors are the primary explanation, according to a new study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University in Sweden.

“Genetics, the Rearing Environment, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce: A Swedish National Adoption Study,” which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, analyzed Swedish ...

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Featured Faculty: Nathan Gillespie, Ph.D.

Dr. Nathan Gillespie, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. His interests in behavioral genetics began as an undergraduate majoring in psychology, where he became fascinated by Hans Eyesenck’s research on the genetics of personality. This interest led him to pursue a PhD in behavior genetics at University of Queensland, working with Dr. Nick Martin. Upon completing his degree, he moved to the United States for what was supposed to be ...

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