Summary of project: Genetic risk factors play an important role in the risk to develop neuropsychiatric diseases. I offer honours projects in which students can identify genetic risk factors that are associated with the risk to develop mental health or neurological disorders, e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or Alzheimer’s Disease. Students will work with the results from large-scale genetic studies that included genetic profiles of 100,000s 1000,000s of patients and healthy controls. Specific research questions will be flexible. Some examples are: How large is the genetic overlap between schizophrenia and affective disorders? Are specific genetic risk factors associated with specific symptoms of depression (e.g., sleep problems)? What is the causal association between cannabis use and schizophrenia? How can we use genetic information to discover novel pharmacological treatment for patients with a neuropsychiatric disease?
Research group: The Translational Neurogenomics Laboratory investigates the role of genetic factors in a range of psychiatric conditions, including schizophrenia, addiction, anxiety disorders and compulsive disorders. By researching a wide variety of symptoms that are typical of patients with a particular psychiatric condition, the members of this group use newly developed statistical methods to discover associations between the condition and genetic variants.
Requirements: Please contact me if you are interested in this project before nominating me as a supervisor. This project is most suitable for students with a strong interest in quantitative statistical analysis. Projects usually have a strong computational component. No specific skills are required, but the student will need to have an interest to learn and computational skills (e.g., R, Unix).
Location: This project will take place at QIMR Berghofer at 300 Herston Road, Herston. QIMR Berghofer is a world leading medical research institute. Our research is focused on four areas: Cancer, Infectious disease, Mental health, and Chronic disorders. https://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/
Pasman JA,., Derks EM*, Vink JM* (2018). GWAS of lifetime cannabis use reveals new risk loci, genetic overlap with psychiatric traits, and a causal influence of schizophrenia. Nat. Neuroscience, 21,1161-1170 *shared senior author
Gamazon ER, 7 authors, Derks EM, et al (2018). Using an atlas of gene regulation across 44 human tissues to inform complex disease- and trait-associated variation. Nat. genetics 50, 956-967
Minica CC,.., Derks EM (2018). Genome-Wide Association Meta-Analysis of Age at First Cannabis Use. Addiction, 113, 2073-2086