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Approved research

Application to Use UK Biobank Data as Part of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium for PTSD Neuroimaging Project

Principal Investigator: Dr Rajendra Morey
Approved Research ID: 40249
Approval date: November 2nd 2018

Lay summary

Exposure to trauma and abuse during childhood is a major risk factor for developing psychiatric disorders in adulthood such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, not all children exposed to trauma will develop such disorders. The fact that some people develop PTSD and others do not can be partially accounted for by their genetics; the chance of inheriting a genetic susceptibility to PTSD is approximately 40%. A few recently discovered genes interact with childhood trauma to increase rates of anxiety and mood disorders in adulthood. This risk may be detected in part by looking at brain measures; this is due to the fact that brain measures have simpler underlying genetic than the many factors that play into developing psychiatric disorders. Our goal is to conduct a genetic analysis of relevant brain measures, with the long-term goal of identifying genes that lead to brain structure variations that are helpful for early prediction and treatment of several psychiatric disorders where childhood trauma is a major risk factor. We hypothesize that (1) childhood trauma will interact with specific genetic markers to produce changes in brain structure and adult psychopathology, and (2) that unique genetic variants, in the context of genetic vulnerability to childhood trauma, will influence the onset of specific disorders (e.g. depression vs PTSD). While this project will take place over several years, this extended time period allows us to combine data across many different sites and build an unparalleled data set. Over the course of this project we will be able to greatly increase our understanding of why some people develop PTSD as well as provide new guidelines for early diagnosis and treatment of PTSD.