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Joint Research Seminar (31 Oct 2014)



Joint Research Seminar

Genomics Strategic Research Theme
Centre for Genomic Sciences

Understanding the Genetic Basis of
Psychiatric Disorders. Beyond Descriptive
Syndromes to Shared Biological Pathways

Dr Gerome Breen

Institute of Psychiatry & Maudsley
King’s College London

31 October 2014 (Fri)
11 am – 12 noon

Seminar Room 3
G/F, HKJC Building for Interdisciplinary Research

5 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, HK


Genome-wide association (GWAS) studies of psychiatric disorders have identified multiple variants, many of which show phenotypic pleiotrophy. We (the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium Pathway Analysis Subgroup) use a pathway analysis approach integrating multiple methods on data of >60,000 participants from Phase 1 of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC): autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder (BIP), major depressive disorder (MDD), and schizophrenia (SCZ). Our analyses clearly indicate a shared etiology of three adult onset psychiatric disorders, BIP, MDD, and SCZ, at the pathway level (p<1x10-3) with histone methylation pathways showed significant association (p=1.08x10-8) as well as multiple immune processes. Aberrant gene expression of histone methylation pathway genes may be a common etiologic mechanism underlying adult psychiatric disorders. We confirm a role of calcium channel signaling genes, immune pathways and postsynaptic density in psychiatric disorders. We also note the strong evidence for a role of GSK3-β, β-Catenin and WNT mediated signaling in Bipolar Disorder and protein phosphatase 2a activity in major depression. Many of the pathways identified have well defined pharmacology and hold promise for further functional and pharmacological experiments.
About the Speaker: 

Dr Gerome Breen is a Senior Lecturer in the MRC Centre for Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. He is funded by the UK NIHR (the UK NHS Research Council) and is theme lead (unit leader) at the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) for Mental Health and the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. He leads Bioresource (biobanking) activities at the BRC for Mental Health and a core for Genomics & Biomarkers in the NIHR BRC for Mental Health. His core work has been on common mental disorders such as depression and manic depression. He and his team are currently working (with collaborators) on mood and anxiety disorders in the form of GWAS, linkage and whole genome sequencing studies as well as methods for GWAS bioinformatics and pathway analyses of psychiatric disorders and miRNA.


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