NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory will establish a center to study the genetic causes of common psychiatric disorders using a $25 million endowment from Theodore and Vada Stanley, CSHL said today.
CSHL will use the money from the Stanley Medical Research Institute to create the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Genomics on its campus on Long Island, NY.
CSHL said today its primary goal is to “unambiguously diagnose patients with psychiatric disorders based on their DNA sequence in 10 years time.”
The center will focus on studying the genomes of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, and its central strategy is to use genome sequencing along with a database it created of symptoms of psychiatric disorder to link genes to the disorders.
CSHL president Bruce Stillman said the endowment will both strengthen the lab’s neuroscience program “and help us find the genes related to these disorders so that proper diagnosis and effective treatments can be pursued."
While acknowledging that "the causes of these disorders are complex,” CSHL noted in a statement that “the greatest contributing factor is the alteration in the DNA sequence of the genes.”
Because of the emphasis on detecting and linking rare gene variants when looking at psychiatric disorders, “researchers must study as many patients as possible at the level of the individual base pairs of DNA.”
CSHL chancellor James Watson said the lab already has been making “significant strides in understanding autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders.”
“I am most passionate about the potential of breakthroughs in neuroscience research," Watson added.