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NIMH Center for Genomic Research Resources for Advancing Psychiatric Genetics


Geetha Senthil, Ph.D.
Office of Genomics Research Coordination


The objective of this initiative is to sustain a centralized national biorepository which, under the rubric of the NIMH Human Genetics Initiative (HGI), will serve as the principal biorepository for genetic studies of psychiatric disorders. The HGI’s primary mission includes improvement and enrichment of genomics research resources for broad sharing with the scientific community. The long-term objective of data sharing and research resource enrichment under this concept is facilitation and acceleration of the scientific understanding of the genetic risk architecture underlying mental disorders. This effort is expected to involve a functionally integrated, multi-disciplinary team that will provide a single, centralized, national resource for advancing basic and translational research in the genetics of mental disorders.


In 1989, NIMH launched the HGI with the goal of creating a centralized national genomic resource. This effort resulted in the NIMH Genomic Research Resource, the largest biorepository in psychiatry, providing access to biomaterials collected from nearly 200,000 well-characterized, high-quality control and patient samples from a wide-range of mental illnesses across ancestrally diverse populations. In 2011, a stem cell repository was added to include induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and their derivatives in the banked resources. The NIMH Genomic Research Resource is the principal biorepository for gene discovery in mental disorders, distributing almost a million samples to date to over 450 investigators across the globe to support approximately 1,500 genetic research studies on mental illnesses. Over 800 publications have resulted from the use of these resources, including many high profile papers in psychiatric genetics, with several hundred replicated genetic findings reported from large scale genome-wide studies. Given the importance of this resource and its impact in the field, we seek to continue our investment to sustain and enhance the NIMH Genomic Research Resource for broad sharing of biosamples and related clinical data.


NIMH aims to continue support to build and sustain the NIMH biorepository resource and data management capacity for future psychiatric genomics research.  For the biologics component of this initiative the specific goals are to implement innovative, cost-effective, scalable, efficient, and high-throughput approaches to: receive, process, characterize, perform quality control, bank, and distribute human derived biosamples; generate, characterize, bank, and distribute renewable resources (e.g., lymphoblastoid cell lines, iPSC lines and their reprogrammed derivatives) from various human-derived cell types; and provide data generation services at a competitive price, including high-throughput genomic assays. In the area of data management, the specific goals of this initiative are to implement integrated computational workflows, state-of-the-art informatics platforms, and user friendly tools to: curate, standardize and harmonize clinical/phenotypic data from prospective and retrospective studies into a uniform structure; develop and maintain web-based tools for monitoring and tracking data resources, data-mining, and querying/visualizing genetic and clinical/phenotypic data; and centrally integrate and manage data associated with biosamples, and establish linkages with other public data repositories (e.g. dbGaP, NIMH Data Archives) to provide single entry point access to data.

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