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The journal Science in May published a raft of papers produced by the PsychENCODE Consortium, and Lieber Institute scientists played a crucial role on three of the nine articles. The National Institutes of Health founded the PsychENCODE project in 2015 as a multidisciplinary initiative to study the molecular basis of neuropsychiatric diseases in hopes of learning how to better treat and prevent them. Phase II of the project involved a total of 14 papers published May 24, including nine in Science, 3 in Science Advances, one in Scientific Reports and one in Molecular Psychiatry.

Lieber Institute scientists authored:

• “A data-driven single-cell and spatial transcriptomic map of the human prefrontal cortex,” with lead author and LIBD Staff Scientist I Louise Huuki-Myers and senior authors and LIBD Investigators Kristen Maynard and Leonardo Collado-Torres, applies the relatively new science of spatial transcriptomics to better understand anatomical structure and cellular populations in the human brain. Read the paper.

• “Systems biology dissection of PTSD and MDD across brain regions, cell types, and blood,” with co-principal investigator Joel Kleinman, LIBD associate director of clinical sciences, examines genetic differences between post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. Read the paper, and read more details about the research from Dell Medical School.

• “Cross-ancestry atlas of gene, isoform, and splicing regulation in the developing human brain,” with LIBD Chief Medical Officer Tom Hyde, Joel Kleinman and Director & CEO Daniel Weinberger among its authors, uses genome-wide association studies to work toward an appropriately diverse gene-regulatory atlas of human brain development. The researchers want to understand more about how genetic risk for autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder occur during human development. Read the paper.

In uncovering the molecular mechanisms behind neuropsychiatric disorders, the researchers and the NIH hope to pave the way for better treatments, diagnostic tools and even preventive measures. The future of personalized medicine—in which treatments are tailored to each individual patient’s needs—relies upon such research. Phase I of the initiative published a similar group of papers in 2018.