The aim of the projects carried in our group is to identify genetic factors that can increase the risk of developing major psychiatric disorders. These disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder or major depressive disorders, are extreme burdens for the patients, their family and the society. They are common in the general population (2% of the population has either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and up to 10% major depression) and often are the cause of complete professional and social disruption of the patients’ life, and high suicide rate.
Genetic factors play a central role in the risk of developing these disorders, and identifying these genetic risk factors is essential to improve the design and the efficiency of the treatments, and to better adapt the care needed for the patients at risk. However, the very complex nature of these disorders has hindered the progress of genetic research. Several psychometric tests, such as attention, verbal fluency, verbal memory, and speed of processing are showing differences between patients and controls.
One of our major projects is to identify genetic variants that correlate in healthy individuals with differences in the performance at these tests, to later characterise the effect of these genetic variants in sample of patients with major psychiatric disorders. The funding from BFS/UiB has provided us the possibility to perform large scale genetic studies, recruit PhD and postdoc members of the group to perform the projects and further strengthen our position at the international level in the field of Psychiatric Genetic studies.