In the last 20 years of probing the human genome to understand neuropsychiatric disease, researchers have learned that what goes on at the cellular level is anything but simple. The PsychENCODE research consortium was founded by the National Institute of Mental Health to tackle these questions, and they recently published a collection of 11 research articles detailing their newest progress. They provide a great deal of new data, and they use it to deeply analyze the function of neurotypical brains and of those with schizophrenia, bipolar, autism and other diseases.

The studies range across many areas but are principally focused on looking at the genetic mechanisms of brain development and disease in different parts of the brain and even on the level of single cells. One study looked at genes associated with different diseases in 672 fetal brains and mapped the changing relationship of these genes to each disease throughout fetal development. Another study looked at the brain cells of individuals with and without autism and found altered molecular pathways associated with genes conferring risk for autism. Others looked at how exactly to define different kinds of neurons, how the levels of different brain cells change in Alzheimer’s, and much more.

The purpose of this collection is not just to show the amazing discoveries made but also to advertise the data they are making available. Other researchers outside of PsychENCODE will be able to access the data and use these studies as a starting framework for their own research. These articles are a jumping off point with countless more insights to be gained, furthering our study of neuropsychiatric disease.

The PsychENCODE consortium is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and includes over 200 professors from across the country.

Corresponding Author: Alex Yenkin

Press Article: PsychENCODE Research Collection Uncovers Molecular Processes in Brain Development (Genomeweb)

Article Collection: PsychENCODE2 (Science)

Image Credit: Pixabay

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