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Approved research

On the genetic and environmental intersection of mental and physical health

Principal Investigator: Dr Roseann Peterson
Approved Research ID: 30782
Approval date: September 3rd 2018

Lay summary

Psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder and alcohol use disorder are common and contribute substantially to global morbidity. Efforts to identify genetic variants influencing risk to mental illness remains a challenge. Genome-wide association studies have identified numerous risk variants for many disorders, but efforts are complicated by variation in the underlying causes and clinical presentation of psychiatric traits. There has been little systematic work on addressing this variation in a genetically-informed framework. Here, we propose leveraging sources of heterogeneity to increase power of genetic analyses and to clarify the etiology of comorbidity among psychiatric and related medical traits. This proposal specifically supports the UK Biobank's stated mission of 'improved prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide-range of serious and life-threatening illnesses': our overarching goal is to integrate psychiatric and medical assessments with genetic data into comprehensive models of disease risk, in an effort to better understand the underlying causes of psychiatric illnesses and their co-occurrence with other medical conditions. The research we propose will add insight into the nature of individual differences (genetic and environmental) for psychiatric and comorbid medical conditions with downstream benefits including the potential for identifying underlying biological mechanisms, therapeutic targets, enhancing clinical practice and precision medicine through improved risk profiles, and providing new data for interventions.