Stephen Hawking, who shined a light on black holes, dies at age 76

Stephen Hawking, the prodigious British theoretical cosmologist who became an international celebrity, died at his home in Cambridge, U.K., early today, at the age of 76. Hawking, who spent his entire career at the University of Cambridge, suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disease with which he was diagnosed in his 20s. The disease confined Hawking to a wheelchair for most of his adult life and eventually rendered him capable of speaking only through a computer-controlled voice synthesizer. ...

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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 Student: Eric Vornholt

Eric Vornholt is a Ph.D. student in the Psychiatric, Behavioral, and Statistical Genetics program at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has always been interested in psychology and as an undergraduate at The University of Arizona, expanded this interest to include genetics and neuroscience. As part of his coursework, Mr. Vornholt became keenly aware of how much these two fields intersect, but also how much this intersection is under-studied. After coming to VCU, his primary research interest naturally became ...

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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 Postdoc: Chris Chatzinakos, Ph.D.

Chris Chatzinakos, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral fellow at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, working with Dr. Silviu-Alin Bacanu, Ph.D. His Ph.D. is in robust statistics and electrical engineering and he has already completed one post-doctoral engagement in electrical engineering. This position focused on teaching and when it was over, Dr. Chatzinakos wanted a position that would bring together his full knowledge of math and engineering. Currently, he focuses on software development ...

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VCU researchers recognized for being in the top 1 percent of most cited authors for 2017

Three Virginia Commonwealth University faculty have been recognized in a list of the top 1 percent of most-cited researchers in 2017. The list was aggregated by Clarivate Analytics, which uses data from Web of Science, a major scientific citation indexing service, to identify qualifying researchers.

VCU faculty on the Highly Cited Researcher list for 2017 include Arun Sanyal, M.D., a professor of internal medicine in the School of Medicine; Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., a professor of psychology ...

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