Translational Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Neuropsychiatric disorders are debilitating disorders that damage functions in the entire range of human mental activity. Studies to understand the biological origins of neuropsychiatric disorders, and in particular schizophrenia, have been carried out for decades. However, no biological markers or genetic risk factors can yet be considered as an aid to diagnosis, demonstrating that we still have far to go to understand mental illness. Our work builds upon our previous studies in identifying genetic factors involved in the aetiology of schizophrenia, where, through use of a Finnish familial cohort, linkage and association analysis has directed us to a number of genes that function in related pathways. However, in addition to studying the relationships between genetic variants and psychiatric diagnosis our work seeks to use alternative measures as a means to initiate the translation of such observations, incorporating quantitative variables from psychological, pharmacological and biological measures.
Our group uses multiple levels of traits and biological measures to translate our understanding of psychiatric illness. Initially by using next generation sequencing to identify functional variation within genomic regions that have previously been implicated to be involved in psychiatric illness by our previous research. We then aim to use alternative phenotypes of psychological, pharmacological, and biological origin to gain insight into the mechanisms and implications of genetic risk. Using multiple cohorts from Finland we additionally use these alternative phenotypes to aid discovery of novel genetic and biological markers.