Over the past few months, we’ve been posting a series of blog articles on the topic of genetics and mental health. This month, we have an exciting story to share with you on the growing role of genetics in understanding a range of psychiatric disorders from an institution that is breaking new ground in this important research area.
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While reading a recent publication in the American Journal of Human Genetics Part B entitled DISC1 in Adult ADHD Patients: An Association Study in Two European Samples , I was immediately intrigued by the first sentence of the abstract: “The DISC1 gene was named after its discovery in a Scottish pedigree with schizophrenia (SCZ) patients.”  This inspired me to do a little background reading regarding the discovery of the DISC1 gene and, as it turns out, it’s a pretty interesting story. Therefore, for the third blog in our Genetics and Mental Health Series, I would like to tell you how this curious gene came to be associated with ADHD.
Last month we posted our first blog article in the Genetics and Mental Health Series. We discussed incorporating genetic analysis into research programs to uncover differences in traits and diseases, or to potentially improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients. This month we would like to expand on that idea by exploring how our traits and personality characteristics are controlled by two things: our environment and our genetics. A person’s genes and their environment interact to affect their mental health and behaviour, and this interaction, referred to aptly as the gene-by-environment interaction, is a very interesting, if challenging, area of research.
The author of this article, Lisa Gamwell, is a Sales Development Analyst at DNA Genotek.
We are all familiar with the role genetics play in shaping our physical appearance. You might have inherited your mother’s green eyes or your father’s broad shoulders. We too understand how genes influence our risk or resilience to developing various conditions. In previous The Genetic Link blog features we’ve linked genes with substance abuse, cancer, epilepsy and tropical diseases. But what I’ve been pondering lately is how and to what extent our unique genetic code is involved in making us who we are by shaping our personality, behavior, social interactions and thought processes. Perhaps you’re familiar with the idea of nature versus nurture, or gene versus environment studies. What I want to know is how much of who I am is due to my genetic make-up versus how much is a result of that complicated mix of my early experiences, social and cultural influences, family interactions, education…in other words, my environment? These almost philosophical questions are tackled on a daily basis by psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists; and I am absolutely riveted by this research.