Evaluating the role of common risk variation in the recurrence risk of schizophrenia in multiplex schizophrenia families

Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a severe, clinically heterogeneous psychiatric disorder with a population prevalence of ~1% [1]. Twin, family, and adoption studies consistently show a strong genetic component, with heritability estimates of around 0.75–0.80 [2,3,4,5,6], and family history (FH) remains the strongest risk factor for developing SCZ [7]. Despite high heritability, ~2/3 of SCZ cases report no FH of psychotic illness, and most subjects with a positive FH (FH+) report only a single affected relative [8, 9], concordant ...

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Genome-wide analysis of schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis identifies shared genomic loci with mixed direction of effects

In the last decade, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified a large number of common genetic risk variants associated with complex human phenotypes (Visscher et al., 2017). Many genetic variants identified by GWAS exhibit varying degrees of genetic pleiotropy (Solovieff et al., 2013), and investigating the nature of these shared genetic risks is important for improving our understanding of the etiology and underlying genetic architecture of complex human disorders. A widely used method for assessing the genetic ...

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CILSE doctoral candidate awarded NIH/NIDA grant

Daniel Bustamante, a Ph.D. candidate in VCU Integrative Life Sciences doctoral program with a concentration on Behavioral & Statistical Genetics, was awarded a National Institute of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH/NIDA) F31 grant.

Bustamante is the Principle Investigator studying the risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse disorder (SUD) as a result of traumatic experiences during childhood and early adolescence. The project, titled “Longitudinal neuroimaging and statistical genetics modeling of substance use and trauma-related ...

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Featured Student: MadhurBain Singh

Madhur is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics and is pursuing the quantitative genetics concentration. His academic journey so far has taken him all the way from the state of Punjab in India to Oslo, Norway to Richmond, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S.) degree and a master’s degree in International Social and Health Policy.

Madhur shifted from his career ...

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The 2021 VIPBG Excellence Awards Announced

The Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics pre- and post-doc awards were announced on December 16, 2021. Annually since 2007, one predoctoral and one postdoctoral trainee are selected to receive the awards. The process requires VIPBG faculty members to first nominate exceptional trainees. The final recipients are selected after a faculty discussion and vote. These awards consist of a certificate of recognition in addition to a $500.00 gift.

This year, the awardees include Terrell Hicks, ...

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Postdoctoral Training in Psychiatric and Statistical Genetics

The Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics is pleased to invite applications for postdoctoral training with a focus on mental health. The Institute offers a rich interdisciplinary training environment. Institute faculty include leaders in the fields of behavioral and psychiatric genetics and represent a wide range of scientific backgrounds from molecular and statistical genetics to epidemiology, psychology, and psychiatry.

Currently funded research at VIPBG includes molecular-genetic studies of schizophrenia, major depression, anxiety and panic disorders, PTSD, ...

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Genome Comparisons Reveal DNA Risk Variants Differ in People of East Asian vs. European Ancestry

An analysis of multiple genome-wide studies making associations between depression and “risk” locations in the human genome has provided a vivid demonstration that results can vary substantially depending on the ethnicity and even country of origin of those whose genomes are being studied.

Members of the major depression working group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and an international team of researchers that included 10 recipients of BBRF grants and prizes and two BBRF Scientific Council members, Kenneth S. ...

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Dr. Roberson-Nay Receives $275K NIMH R21 Funded Research Grant

Roxann Roberson-Nay, Ph.D. received a two year, $275K NIMH R21 grant for her “Quantification and Characterization of Bulk and L1CAM-Enriched Exosomal MicroRNA Cargo in Healthy Young People” research study.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane-bound sacs that transport bioactive materials like proteins, DNA, and RNA. EVs are released from all (or nearly all) tissues into the bloodstream as a normal part of physiology. Because EVs easily cross the blood-brain-barrier, analyzing cell surface markers and biological cargo may ...

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World’s largest study of genetic risk factors for depression will enroll 20,000 women

The five-year study involving VCU’s Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics aims to better understand major depressive disorder and diversity of genetic data.

team of researchers will lead the largest population study of its kind aimed at learning more about the genetic variations that affect individuals’ risk for depression after receiving a five-year, $8.98 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The study, “Identifying the Genetic Causes of Depression ...

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Cracking the code for resilience

A VCU School of Medicine researcher is exploring the genetic underpinnings of trauma responses in the hope of improving mental health care.

Given current events ranging from the ongoing pandemic to giant wildfires and powerful hurricanes, it’s not surprising that many people find their emotional reserves are depleted. Statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation show that about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic, up from ...

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