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Feinstein Institutes Researchers Win $3.1M NIH Grant to Study Genetics of Cognition

NEW YORK — The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research said Tuesday that its researchers have been awarded a five-year, $3.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to analyze and expand upon data from a large-scale study of the genetics underlying cognitive function.

The Cognitive Genomics Consortium (COGENT), an international alliance of researchers led by Feinstein scientist Todd Lencz, previously received NIH funding to combine large-scale genome-wide genotypic data with phenotypic data to gain insights into the molecular underpinnings of brain function.

With the new funding, Lencz and colleagues aim to build on the results of studies conducted by COGENT to further understand the genetic links between cognitive performance and psychiatric illness.

According to the grant's abstract, the researchers will use new, ethnically diverse cohorts for additional genome-wide association studies and rare variant analyses, as well as to identify key subdomains of cognitive function that can be used to break down psychiatric phenotypes into biologically coherent subcomponents.

The scientists also aim to use their findings to create new polygenic risk scores (PRS) for psychiatric disease and evaluate their performance against conventional, genome-wide PRS based on single-trait genome-wide association data.

"Studying cognitive abnormalities is crucial for understanding psychiatric disorders," Lencz said in a statement. "Our ongoing research will use our extensive genomics repositories to uncover new insights into treatment targets, biological mechanisms, and biomarkers linked to various psychiatric disorders."