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New data-mining effort launched to study mental disorders
Date:10/6/2011

Chicago will be home to a new $13.75 million project that will apply data mining methods to better understand the genetic and environmental factors behind neuropsychiatric disorders.

The Sylvio O. Conte Center, a multi-institutional effort based at the University of Chicago, will combine the statistical power of pre-existing genetics, pharmacogenomics, text-mining, and clinical record databases to confront diseases that have so far frustrated researchers.

"There are multiple communities looking at the same problem," said Andrey Rzhetsky, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics, Senior Fellow of the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago and Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology, and Director of the Conte Center. "We are trying to combine them all to model and analyze those data types jointly, looking at multiple phenotypes simultaneously and looking for possible environmental factors."

The center will initially be funded by an $11.75 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and $2 million from the Chicago Biomedical Consortium. Researchers and datasets from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Stanford University, Children's Hospital Boston, Columbia University, and the University of Haifa will be involved in the project.

To determine the biological basis of mental disorders such as schizophrenia and depression, scientists have tried many technical approaches -- each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

For example, genetic association studies of psychiatric disorders have located gene variants associated with the disorders, but have been able to explain only a small percentage of their heritability. Researchers have also collected detailed clinical records on psychiatric patients and the efficacy and side effects of available treatments, but the potentially valuable information within those records remains largely untapp
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Contact: Robert Mitchum
robert.mitchum@uchospitals.edu
773-795-5227
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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