Investigating how rare genetic variants increase schizophrenia risk

John Grace QC PhD Scholarship 2018: 
 Division of Psychiatry, University College London

Supervisors: Dr Elvira Bramon, Prof Richard Mott and Prof George Kirov


Schizophrenia is caused by both environmental as well as genetic risk factors. Some rare genetic factors increase schizophrenia risk between two and thirty-fold and they are the focus of this project. Study aims 1. Investigate the influences that these high-risk genetic variants have on brain structure and function. 2. Understand what protects many carriers of high-risk variants from developing schizophrenia. How we will do the research: We will analyse a large sample of UK and European families, where at least one member has schizophrenia. More than 14,000 participants have donated their DNA and undergone brain scans, electroencephalograms, psychological and clinical assessments. Why is this important? Understanding the genetics of schizophrenia is key to develop new treatments. 

Start Date: September 2018

Study Aims:

1. Characterise the effects of copy number variants (CNVs) on cognition, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology.

2. Develop a multifactorial risk score combining CNVs, common genetic variants and key environmental factors.