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Posts by Former NIMH Director Thomas Insel about Genetics

What Caused This to Happen?

By Thomas Insel on

Dr. Insel discusses the idea that chance may have as much to do with the development of mental illness as do genetic and environmental factors.

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Mapping the Risk Architecture of Mental Disorders

By Thomas Insel on

In this blog, Dr. Insel describes the results of two new genetics studies and why they are milestones in our understanding of the genetics of autism and schizophrenia.

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National DNA Day

By Thomas Insel on

In a blog celebrating National DNA Day, NIMH Director Thomas Insel shares new insights about DNA, and emphasizes that, for mental disorders, DNA is less about simple heritability and more about complex mechanisms of risk.

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BrainSpan – Mapping the Developing Brain

By Thomas Insel on

A new map of where and when genes are expressed in the developing human brain—the transcriptome—is already enabling scientists to gain insights into the role of risk genes in neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Insel talks about the implications of this work.

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In Vitro Veritas?

By Thomas Insel on

With more than 100 common gene variants recently implicated in schizophrenia and autism, the problem now is to pinpoint how they might change brain circuits. A promising new tool is a sort of budding brain in a dish. What’s amazing – eclipsing earlier “disease-in-a-dish” discoveries – is that, over weeks and months, differentiating cells in these “organoids” organize themselves according to the architecture that we see in a functioning human brain.

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A Sampling of Summer Science

By Thomas Insel on

Dr. Insel reports in his blog about intriguing findings published this summer on the genes and disruptions in brain circuitry involved in schizophrenia.

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Open Data

By Thomas Insel on

Dr. Insel talks about the value of data sharing and collaboration to promote innovation and scientific discovery.

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Autism Progress

By Thomas Insel on

Dr. Insel highlights key recent findings in research on autism spectrum disorders.

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Summer Science

By Thomas Insel on

Numerous provocative advances in neuroscience were reported during the summer of 2012.

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The New Genetics of Autism – Why Environment Matters

By Thomas Insel on

Dr. Insel discusses how new research may help tie together seemingly disparate findings in genetic vs environmental risk factors in autism spectrum disorders.

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NIMH’s Top 10 Research Advances of 2011

By Thomas Insel on

Dr. Insel shares NIMH’s Top 10 Research Advances for 2011.

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Neuroscience Advances Showcased in Washington

By Thomas Insel on

Dr. Insel reflects on an exciting neuroscience conference where an increasing interest in neuropsychiatric disorders was evident.

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A New Picture of Brain Development

By Thomas Insel on

Two papers published this week in Nature provide the first maps of the molecular development of the human brain. Mapping brain development by changes in gene expression gives us a new level of precision and raises new possibilities for understanding the mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders.

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Psychiatric Genetics: More Pieces of the Puzzle

By Thomas Insel on

Results of the two largest studies of their kind, to date, have identified new common gene variants associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The results implicate specific pathways and hold promise for development of new treatments.

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A GPS for the Developing Human Brain

By Thomas Insel on

The first transcription (genetic expression) map of the brain was recently posted. This is a landmark for brain research.

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Genomics: “The Future is Bright”

By Thomas Insel on

As we mark the 10th anniversary of the human genome’s sequencing, the heightening pace of progress promises to a bright future for psychiatric genetics.

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NIMH’s Top 10 Research Events and Advances of 2010

By Thomas Insel on

10 breakthroughs and events of 2010 which are changing the way we approach mental disorders.

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In Search of the Missing Genetic Signals

By Thomas Insel on

In recent years, NIMH-supported researchers have discovered several genes that are associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar disorder. Most of these genes were discovered either through a candidate gene approach comparing cases and controls or by looking for linkage to genetic variation associated with occurrence of the disease in a family. However, the genomic variants discovered to date can explain only a small fraction of the genetic risk. So where are the missing genetic signals for mental disorders?

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