Distinguished Professor of Genetics
Director, Psychiatric Genomics
Adjunct Professor, Epidemiology
Foreign Adjunct Professor, Karolinska Institute
Key words: complex traits in humans, psychiatric genetics, pharmacogenetics, twin studies, schizophrenia, major depression, nicotine dependence
The Sullivan lab aims to understand the genetic and epidemiological basis of a number of important public-health problems. These disorders are etiologically heterogeneous and exhibit complex patterns of inheritance. Developing an understanding of these disorders requires the integration of findings from multiple investigative approaches such as epidemiology, linkage analysis, and association studies. The lab applies these methods to several research areas:
This is a chronic and debilitating mental disorder that affects approximately 1% of the human population. Although it is clear that genetics plays a role in schizophrenia, specific genes that have a causal role in the disease have yet to be identified. The Sullivan lab is conducting a series of studies to elucidate its etiology. In addition, pharmacogenetic studies are underway to determine the mechanism of action of antipsychotic drugs that are currently used to treat some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Tobacco use is one of the major public health problems throughout the world. Led by Dr. Helena Furberg, PhD, the Sullivan lab is interested in identifying genetic influences on smoking behavior, particularly nicotine dependence, as well as the genetic epidemiology of smoking cessation. The lab conducts association studies for smoking behavior and is currently conducting a large twin study of smoking cessation.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
CFS is an uncommon but clearly debilitating disorder that remains controversial despite many years of study. Standard methods of genetic epidemiology have yielded little information about the etiology of CFS. The Sullivan lab has put significant effort toward using novel microarray and proteomic approaches to identify useful etiological hypotheses for this complex disease.
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