The symptoms of schizophrenia can make it difficult to relate with the patient and the burden on families is high. Families benefit from education on what to expect from schizophrenia and from dedicated emotional support. A positive attitude of the family in regards to continuing medical care is critical for the outcome of the disease. ~Pablo V. Gejman, MD, Director of NorthShore University HealthSystem Center for Psychiatric Genetics

Dr. Pablo Gejman, Director of the NorthShore University HealthSystem Center for Psychiatric Genetics, and a principal investigator at the NorthShore University HealthSystem Research Institute, has detected a lead gene that causes schizophrenia, a chronic, debilitating brain disorder that affects 70 million people worldwide.  There is no cure for schizophrenia, but cure and prevention are the main goals of psychiatric research.

For many years, our main thrust has been the study of the genetics of schizophrenia.  We carry out translational research for which biology students, PhDs, and physicians are well suited.  We encourage trainees to think independently, but also prepare them for collaborative work by partial assimilation into the wider-campus network and other networks, and to independently develop new networks among trainees and faculty.

Schizophrenia is a complex disorder thought to be caused by a combination of multiple genetic and non-genetic (environmental) factors.  Dr. Gejman directs some of the largest and most comprehensive genetic experiments currently conducted in the field.  Our labs are equipped with state of the art genotyping and DNA sequencing equipment.  In the 1990s we had reported support for a susceptibility locus for schizophrenia in chromosome 6q (Cao et al. 1997), a linkage that has obtained additional support from independent clinical samples. We have subsequently published evidence for a susceptibility gene in the implicated chromosomal region (Duan et al., 2004).

We are currently studying additional potential susceptibility genes in chromosome 8p and are also conducting the largest genome-wide association experiment in schizophrenia.  The results of these experiments will provide unique opportunities for trainees with interest in statistics or/ and molecular genetics.  Furthermore, our network of expert collaborators is extensive which provides additional opportunities for training.

Some of the experiments that we conduct have a more basic character.  For example, we have studied the functional consequences of synonymous codon usage and its effects on mRNA primary structure for the expression of genes of the G protein-coupled receptor family, which has yielded novel and interesting results (Duan et al., 2003). This work has gathered wide interest in the human molecular genetics and the molecular evolution fields.

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