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HudsonAlpha to Lead $7.8M Bipolar Disorder Sequencing Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology will partner with University of Michigan scientists on a new project funded by the National Institute of Mental Health that will use gene sequencing to study the genetic causes of bipolar disorder, HudsonAlpha said today.

The partners will use the $7.8 million NIMH grant to study thousands of individuals in a search for genes and pathways that increase risk for the disease, which develops early in life and appears to have a strong genetic correlation. Children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are four to six times more likely to develop the disease than children with no such family history, HudsonAlpha said.

"Our research team combines strengths in high-throughput genetics and genomics and development and application of innovative computational and statistical methods to maximize the benefits of cutting-edge technologies," HudsonAlpha President and Director Rick Myers said in a statement.

The first phase of the project will involve whole-genome sequencing of 2,000 individuals, half of whom have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and half of whom have not. The researchers will search through the genomic data for similarities among those who have been diagnosed and compare them to those who have not, with the aim of developing a better way of diagnosing risk of the disorder, which can present multiple, seemingly unrelated symptoms.

An additional 5,000 individuals will be included in comparative studies with separate funding.

Myers, who is principal investigator on the grant, will partner with other HudsonAlpha researchers and with scientists at the University of Michigan's Center for Statistical Genetics.