Sullivan receives grant for genetics study of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 — Dr. Sullivan's project is one of 15 selected out of 170 proposals submitted by researchers worldwide. Each will each receive $100,000 annually in support of one year of research.

Sullivan receives grant for genetics study of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder
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Patrick Sullivan, MD

CHAPEL HILL — Patrick Sullivan, MD has received a 2010 Distinguished Investigator Award from NARSAD for a comparison of genetics in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

His project is one of 15 selected out of 170 proposals submitted by researchers worldwide. Each project will each receive $100,000 annually in support of one year of research.

Sullivan, who is Ray M. Hayworth and Family Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine and a member of the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, has identified four families that are affected by schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder and will perform DNA analysis to try to identify variations and genetic links to psychosis. Two families are from northern Sweden and the other two families are from southern Spain, in Andalusia. All have an unusually high number of affected family members. Sullivan will employ methods that will allow him to study rare genetic variants, including changes in the copy number of genes.

Once candidate pieces of DNA are identified, Sullivan and his team will sequence the DNA from subset of cases and compare any possible sequence variations with unrelated samples. Findings should contribute to the continuing effort to identify genes associated with schizophrenia to improve understanding, diagnosis and treatments for disorders that have psychotic symptoms.

Other members of the research term for this project are Danyu Lin, PhD, Dennis Gillings Distinguished Professor in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Wei Sun, PhDYun Li, PhD, and Ann Collins, PhD.  Wei Sun and Yun Li are assistant professors of biostatistics in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health who also have appointments in the Department of Genetics in the School of Medicine. Ann Collins is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics.

NARSAD, formerly known as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), has adopted the business name “NARSAD, The World's Leading Charity Dedicated to Mental Health Research” to reflect the broader funding interests of the organization. In addition to funding research about schizophrenia and depression, NARSAD funds research such as childhood psychiatric disorders, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders.

Media contact: Tom Hughes, (919) 966-6047, tahughes@unch.unc.edu

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