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Approved research

Exploring the shared genetic aetiology between schizophrenia and cognition

Principal Investigator: Dr Derek Morris
Approved Research ID: 23739
Approval date: July 1st 2017

Lay summary

A major component of schizophrenia is problems with cognition (learning, memory, IQ, attention) that cause severe disability. Schizophrenia and cognition are both strongly genetic. New research has identified many risk genes for schizophrenia but how they cause illness and which genes affect cognition is largely unknown. Our research focuses on genes within different biological functions (epigenetics, centrosome function, immune function, neurotransmission) and explores the roles that these biological functions have in schizophrenia and cognition. These studies will seek out new knowledge about the biological basis of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, and offer targets for development of new therapies. We aim to gain new insights into the pathophysiology of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, which could lead to development of new treatments that are badly needed. Thus, our proposed study aligns with the UK Biobank?s stated purpose of supporting ?a diverse range of research intended to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness?. We will study known risk genes for schizophrenia for their effects on cognition. The genes that we select come from four different types of biological functions believed to be involved in increased schizophrenia risk, namely: epigenetics, centrosome function, immune function and neurotransmission. We will test these functions in two ways. Firstly, we will test individual schizophrenia risk genes with these functions. Secondly, because the effect of individual genes are small, we will calculate a schizophrenia genetic risk score test for all genes combined within a biological function, and test that score for an effect on cognitive function. We plan to include all participants for whom data is available on Genomics (n=152,727) plus Cognitive Function (up to n=498,545), Cognitive function follow-up (n= 123,671) or Brain MRI (up to n=5,822).