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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

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Genomics Research

Genomics research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health aims to deepen our understanding of the genomic and non-genomic factors (such as environment) that contribute to the development of mental illnesses. The ultimate goal of this research is to improve current approaches to diagnose, treat, and prevent mental disorders.

In 2018, the National Advisory Mental Health Council Workgroup on Genomics established criteria for rigorous genomics research. The Genomics Team implements these recommendations across NIMH-funded projects and the genomics research priorities described in the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research.

The Genomics Team establishes genomics initiatives and programs through funding opportunity announcements. These opportunities span basic, clinical, and translational research and could help establish a framework for translating genetic findings into clinical applications (e.g., risk prediction, diagnostics, therapeutic, and prognostic).

The team also develops initiatives that have the potential to advance and transform our understanding of how disease risk genes cause changes in brain function and behavior. An example includes the Genes to Biology initiative . Through this initiative, researchers will systematically evaluate the neurobiology of psychiatric risk genes and establish a harmonized cross-modality and cross-species phenotypic data resource. In addition, the team seeks to advance gene-based therapeutics research for rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorders for which targeted, gene-based treatments are not currently available.

Resources for researchers planning to study specific genes 

NIMH supports research for genes that exhibit significant evidence, at a genome-wide level, of association with a particular trait regardless of whether the variation is rare or common. To help researchers understand how NIMH evaluates grant applications related to studying specific genes, we have created two resources:

  1. A list of human genes that have demonstrated genome-wide association with mental illness through rare variation
  2. Detailed documentation that explains the rationale behind the list

While the list focuses on rare genetic variation, NIMH is open to supporting studies on genes that are not included. We actively encourage dialogue with the research community regarding the list and any proposed genes for investigation. For further inquiries, please contact us at

Recent meetings and events

Genomics news and events

Science News

Find NIMH science news related to genomics research.

Meetings and Events

Discover NIMH workshops and scientific meetings related to genomics research.

Team leads

Jonathan Pevsner, Ph.D.  
Chief, Genomics Research Branch, Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science  

Doug L. Meinecke, Ph.D.  
Program Chief, Molecular and Cellular Pathophysiology Program