NIH Awards Grant to Study Genetics

Geisinger,, along with the University of Washington in Seattle  and Washington University in St. Louis were awarded a $8.5 million five year grant from NIH to study the role of genetics in neuropsychiatric disorders. The research will include studying autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

The project is one of five projects funded through NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health which makes funds available through their “Mental Health Rare Genetic Disease Network” (MHRGN). MHRGDN includes researchers at 15 sites in the U.S.

Geisinger serves more than one million patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The system includes 13 hospital campuses, a nearly 6000,000 member health plan, two research centers, and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Researchers in the MHRGDN network will recruit patients with known genetic causes of neuropsychiatric disorders. They will conduct in-depth genomic and clinical assessments of patients and their family members to explore the impact of genetics on neuropsychiatric disorders.

According to Christa L. Martin, PhD, Associate Chief Scientific Officer, Director of Geisinger’s “Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute” and one of the primary research investigators, “Our understanding of the genetic causes of neuropsychiatric disorders is growing every day but we still have a lot to learn.”

She points out, “We can now identify a genetic cause in up to 40 percent of children with neuropsychiatric disorders. This researchers will gather detailed descriptions of the clinical symptoms of these children to discover how to improve their medical care and outcomes.”

David H. Ledbetter, PhD., Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, a primary investigator on the neuropsychiatric disorders research said, “This research initiative will enable Geisinger patients and their families to be part of something significant beyond our health system.”

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