Genetic Diversity and Psychiatric Risk
Zoe Donaldson, Columbia University

Differences in gene expression contribute to risk for psychiatric illness. Numerous studies have now identified genetic risk factors for many psychiatric illnesses, but many of these so-called risk variants are not found in the coding regions of genes, and therefore do not affect protein function. Instead, they are thought to contribute to disease through alteration of gene expression. It is not always straightforward to infer how a genetic variant might alter gene expression in the complex cellular environment of the brain. Therefore, we use a number of different approaches in mice to both understand the functional impact of altered gene expression, and directly model disease-related genetic variation in mice. In my talk, I will focus on the role of non-coding genetic variation and how it may impact gene expression in the brain, drawing on examples both from evolutionary and disease models. In addition, I will discuss opportunities to dissect the neural circuits affected by genetic variants in order to develop new therapeutic approaches.

Background Review Article:
Maher, Brendan. "The case of the missing heritability." Nature 456.7218 (2008): 18-21.

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