Schizophrenia Program

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Genetics Program

The Schizophrenia Program is involved in a wide range of genetic research projects in collaboration with genetic laboratories at Harvard Medical School and other institutions.

Overview

Eighty percent of the risk of schizophrenia lies in a person’s genetics-not in one telltale gene but large numbers of them operating in complex combinations. The Schizophrenia Program Genetics Lab’s goals are to:

  • Identify genes that contribute to schizophrenia symptoms.
  • Use that knowledge to develop new and better treatments
  • Directly involve patients in the search for better treatments

DNA collection

Several ongoing studies offer participants the option of contributing DNA to our database. This allows us to study promising genetic variants as possible predictors of how patients will respond to treatment. The goal is to gain a better understanding of the neuroscience behind schizophrenia.

Research Projects

Imaging-genetics

The effects of individual genes in schizophrenia are small. We are combining genetic tests with brain imaging, including MRI and PET scans, to "amplify" the signal of schizophrenia risk genes, and to determine how they affect brain structure and function.

Vitamin supplementation

Ongoing work is determining whether certain psychotic symptoms result in a deficiency in the genes that metabolize folic acid, and if so, whether folate or l-methylfolate supplements might help reduce those symptoms. We are also studying whether vitamin supplementation can help normalize altered patterns of brain activation that are caused by folate-related genes.

Brain genomics superstruct project

We are working with other investigators at Mass General, McLean, and Harvard to generate a large database of brain imaging and genetic information from patients with schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders. This large-scale study will help us to determine similarities and differences between schizophrenia and other illnesses, in the hope of developing better and more specific treatments.

Side effects of antipsychotic drugs

This study investigates whether certain genes can predict if patients taking antipsychotic drugs will experience side-effects such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and how those effects can be minimized.

View our most recent publications on PubMed.

Contact Genetics Lab

Massachusetts General Hospital
149 13th St, Room 2606
Charlestown, MA 02129

Phone: 617-912-7800