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MIT Lab Wins $20M Gift to Study Genomics of Mental Illnesses

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - A Massachusetts Institute of Technology branch has received a $20 million gift for psychiatric studies that will include using genomics research from the Broad Institute to begin to develop therapies for mental illnesses.
The McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT received the funding from James and Patricia Poitras and will establish the James W. and Patricia T. Poitras Center for Affective Disorders Research, which will focus on clinical mental disorders such as depression, manic depression, and schizophrenia.
The Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard is conducting genome-wide association studies on samples from patients with mental illnesses, seeking to identify genetic variations that are linked to these diseases.
If Broad researchers find a genetic variant linked to a disease, researchers at the new McGovern Center will try to understand how those genes work, and eventually will attempt to strike agreements with commercial partners to push a therapeutic into trials, Charles Jennings, director of neurotechnology at the McGovern Institute, told GenomeWeb Daily News today.  
Once Broad researchers find genetic risks for these diseases, Jennings explained, the Poitras Center's endeavor will be to connect genotype with phenotype to discover "how they converge in the brain."