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Scientists and clinicians are using innovative human neuroimaging and genetic strategies to elucidate biological mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders.

Understanding how genes and environment affect human brain systems that underlie mental illness syndromes or symptoms

Mental illnesses are characterized in part by a variety of debilitating deficits in emotion, cognition, and motivation processes. Determining the biological neural basis for these dysfunctions, including how genetic and environmental factors confer risk for mental illness, is critical to inform improved treatment strategies. In the Molecular Psychiatry Group, we are using cutting-edge human neuroimaging and genetic technologies to understand underlying neural mechanisms related to the expression of mental illness and the way in which genes influence brain function to account for these deficits and associated disabilities.

Imaging genetics is a technique that identifies associations between genetic variation and neuroimaging signals to uncover genetic influences on function in the living brain. We employ various innovative imaging genetics applications in combination with other environmental and physiological measures in both psychiatric patients and healthy individuals. We have established unique interactive databases and techniques to manage and process information obtained from large-scale neuroimaging genetic studies. We have a massive and growing resource of neuroimaging and cognitive data on over 3,000 individuals, including the healthy siblings of ill subjects.  Also, in collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Peking University in Beijing, and the University of Bari in Bari, Italy, we are studying a unique collection of human datasets involving extensive genetic and phenotypic information as well as environmental and developmental data.

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Our state-of-the-art laboratory space is located on the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus. LIBD is the largest non-Johns Hopkins University employer of the East Baltimore inner-city development project.