Nature Genetics published the paper titled “Genome-wide association analyses identify 44 risk variants and refine the genetic architecture of major depression” on 26 April 2018. Dr. Sullivan was the senior corresponding author and helped direct the study with several other investigators.
By conducting a genome-wide association meta-analysis in 135,458 MDD cases and 344,901 controls, the team identified 44 independent and significant loci that were associated with clinical features of MDD and implicated brain regions exhibiting anatomical differences. They found important relationships of genetic risk for MDD with educational attainment, body mass, and schizophrenia: lower educational attainment and higher body mass were putatively causal, and MDD and schizophrenia shared partial biological etiologies. The results can be used for improved therapies since targets of known antidepressants were enriched in the genetic findings. Multiple news outlets have highlighted this story, including Yahoo News, Medical News Today, Live Science, Futurity, Japan Times, and others.