The Genetic Link

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Article by: Erin Carpenter

Exciting discoveries from Spit for Science & a sneak-peak at Spit for Science II


Russell Schachar, MD, FRCP(C), gave an engaging and inspiring talk at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) conference this year titled: ADHD and OCD genetics: Populations, endophenotypes and quantitative traits. 

The talk featured some of the exciting results gained from the large-scale Spit for Science project. Partnered with the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Canada, the Spit for Science project was initiated to accelerate discovery and further understanding of the nature of neurodevelopmental disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), in children. These types of disorders continue throughout life and can be extremely impairing.

Spit for Science collaborators mentioned in the presentation were:

  • Russell Schachar *Presenter (TD bank Chair in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry)
  • Jennifer Crosbie (Susan Bradley Health Clinician Scientist Award in Child & Youth Mental Health; the O’Brien Scholar Program in Child & Youth Mental Health)
  • Paul Arnold (Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS) Translational Research Chair in Child & Youth Mental Health)
  • Christie Burton (Research Associate, Neurosciences & Mental Health, Sickkids)

Spit for Science aims to understand the genetics of psychiatric disorders by collecting quantitative data from a population aged 6-17 years old, in addition to non-invasive collection of DNA saliva samples with Oragene•DNA. Study recruitment, conducted at the Ontario Science Center, was extremely successful with over 17,000 children participating, including 220 twin pairs, over a period of two summers.

Arguably one of the most exciting findings from Spit for Science was identifying the first genome-wide loci for OCD traits using a genome-wide association study (GWAS). 

Spit for Science had such resounding success that Spit for Science II has already been funded. Expanding on the initial project, Spit for Science II involves recruiting an additional 30,000 participants at the Ontario Science Center. Additional measures, new strategies for looking at environmental exposures, and the potential to re-contact participants will be introduced.

Watch Russell Schachar’s full ASHG presentation on Spit for Science below.

DNA Genotek is proud to highlight that this research team, along with Paul Peters from the Hospital for Sick Children, were winners of our Innovation Challenges Grant for their project titled: Rapid Recruitment for Large-Scale Gene by Environment Analyses in Pediatric Mental Health. This project focuses on large-scale gene x environment studies to help identify genetic and environmental risk factors in children for psychiatric disorders.

If you would like more information regarding Oragene·DNA from saliva collection kits mentioned in this study, please contact us at

Request free trial kits of any DNA Genotek saliva kit

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