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NIMH Commits $2.5M for Analysis of Mental Health GWAS Data

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The National Institute of Mental Health has earmarked around $2.5 million to support the analysis of data from mental health-related genome-wide association studies.
The NIH plans to issue five awards through individual R01 grants and through the collaborative R01 mechanism to support one year of secondary statistical analysis on existing GWAS data sets for major mental disorders, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, autism, major depression disorder, and schizophrenia.
Applicants are required to be participants in the Psychiatric GWAS Consortium. They are also expected to propose methods for analyzing combined data sets across different genotyping platforms and across phenotypes using either existing or new statistical methods.
NIMH said in its program announcement that while several large mental health GWAS have been conducted involving thousands of cases and controls, “the analyses of these data and data from studies in different disease areas have shown that to successfully determine the contribution of common alleles to the genetic architecture of mental disorders, it may be necessary to have sample sizes in the tens of thousands.”
Other challenges that NIMH noted include the fact that study subjects need to be carefully phenotyped and the likelihood that common risk alleles underlying mental disorders “are of modest effect size and prone to estimation errors and confounding and are thus highly model dependent.”
The agency said it expects combined data sets across various studies to “provide the opportunity to test association between genetic variants and sub-phenotypes for specific mental disorders and … also improve the precision of estimates for the effect size for a single allele or a set of jointly interacting alleles.”
The program is based on existing data and NIMH said it will not fund new sample collection or genotyping. In addition, applicants must have appropriate consent in place for study subjects and must submit a data-sharing plan that makes all genotype and phenotype data available through the NIMH Human Genetics Initiative and the NIH dbGaP database.

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