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Approved Research

Trans-ethnic genome-wide and exposome-wide association studies of neuroimaging and behavioral phenotypes

Principal Investigator: Professor Chunshui Yu
Approved Research ID: 75556
Approval date: December 8th 2021

Lay summary

Human brain structure and function can be characterized by brain imaging techniques and their inter-individual variations are associated with individual differences in cognitive abilities and susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders. Individual differences in human brain structure and function can be attributed to genetic variations, environmental exposures, as well as gene-gene, environment-environment and gene-environment interactions. In this project, by combining UK biobank and CHIMGEN datasets, we aim to investigate trans-ethnic and ancestry-specific relations of genome, environment and their interactions with brain and behavior. It's not only helpful for understanding biological mechanisms of normal and abnormal human brain functions, but also for developing novel strategies for cognitive improvement as well as prevention and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Our proposal meets the UK biobank's stated purpose by identifying specific environmental stressors related to urban upbringing that influence distinct behaviors, and their underlying neurobiology. Targeting these stressors will enable the development of cost-effective measures to prevent neuropsychiatric disorders, intervene at an early stage, and identify specific risk markers and targets for psychosocial intervention, contributing towards alleviating the public health burden associated with urban upbringing. Furthermore, our assessment of environmental factors and the link to neuropsychiatric disorders will also have immense value for urban infrastructure and environmental planning to accommodate the rapid rate of urbanization, both within UK and China. Urban policies that take into account the national conditions of each country will be formulated to improve the public health. We expect to complete the project within 36 months according to the above-mentioned steps.