Mental illness affects one in six U.S. adults, but scientists’ sense of the underlying biology of most psychiatric disorders remains nebulous. That’s frustrating for physicians treating the diseases, who must also make diagnoses based on symptoms that may only appear sporadically. No laboratory blood test or brain scan can yet distinguish whether someone has depression or bipolar disorder, for example.
Now, however, a large-scale analysis of postmortem brains is revealing distinctive molecular traces in people with mental illness. This week, an ... Continue Reading →
Dr. B. Todd Webb, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University. His interest in behavioral genetics developed gradually over his academic career. He majored in biology at VCU but always had an interest in genetics. Over time, he became passionate about how complex systems work and later obtained his Ph.D. in human genetics. This allowed him to hone his skills while providing him opportunities to ... Continue Reading →
Jeffry Alexander, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral fellow at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. His interests in psychiatric genetics developed in an indirect fashion. After practicing as a veterinarian for seven years, he decided a change was in order and began looking for a career with more of a public health impact. Therefore, he pursued a master’s degree in public health (MPH) at VCU.
While completing his master’s degree, he worked in Dr. Brien Riley’s lab on ... Continue Reading →
Dr. Silviu-Alin Bacanu, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. His interests in psychiatric genetics began while he was completing his PhD in statistics from the University of Pittsburgh. Upon graduating, he pursued these interests by working in psychiatric genetics research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for several years, where he worked with on a variety of phenotypes, including schizophrenia, eating disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease. Subsequently, he obtained a research position at ... Continue Reading →
Anna Docherty, Ph.D. recently completed her postdoc training at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. In two years at VIPBG, she secured an NIMH K01 and NARSAD Young Investigator Award to study the molecular genetics of schizophrenia and schizotypy, and published several papers using both biometrical and molecular genetics approaches. She just began a tenure-track professorship in Psychiatry and Human Genetics at the University of Utah, and her work dovetails extremely well ... Continue Reading →
Brien Riley, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. He is a molecular geneticist interested in identifying genes that contribute to variation in the brain, central nervous system function, and psychiatric illness risk and behavior. These interests developed after he completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology, as a result of his dissatisfaction with the field’s way of approaching brain function and dysfunction. He was frustrated “because the field of psychology did not, ... Continue Reading →
The degree to which an individual deviates in intelligence from their family is a more accurate predictor of schizophrenia development than the individual’s intelligence alone, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University in Sweden.
The study confronts the conventional wisdom that low intelligence alone is a sufficient risk factor for schizophrenia development, going further to say that the risk for schizophrenia development is more accurately indexed by the degree to which an individual diverges ... Continue Reading →
Kenneth Kendler, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Human and Molecular Genetics as well as one of the founders of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. In collaboration with Lindon Eaves, Ph.D., Dr. Kendler created VIPBG in 1996 as an effort to bring together expert psychiatrists, statisticians, and molecular geneticists under one roof, where he currently serves as Director.
Throughout his career, Dr. Kendler has published over 850 articles, making him ... Continue Reading →
Tim Bigdeli, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral fellow at Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. His interests in psychiatric genetics began while he was completing his undergraduate degree in biology, where he became fascinated by the diversity of life and how genetics can tell a story about human populations and evolution. He was then exposed to world of psychiatric genetics while he was working on his PhD in Human and Molecular Genetics, also at Virginia Commonwealth University, ... Continue Reading →
The National Academy of Medicine today awarded Virginia Commonwealth University psychiatry professor Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., with the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health in recognition of his research on the role of genes and environment in the development of psychiatric and substance use disorders.
The award was presented to the director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at the NAM’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Kendler shares the recognition with Kay Jamison, Ph.D., ... Continue Reading →