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$650 million commitment to Stanley Center at Broad Institute aims to galvanize mental illness research
Date:7/22/2014

of new treatments because the basic science has seemed intractable.

Yet in the past few years, scientists have begun to find genes that shape the risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other illnesses – thanks in large part to Stanley's support. Researchers at the Broad Institute have harnessed DNA mapping and sequencing technology, supported collaborative networks of researchers from more than 60 institutions in 25 countries, and assembled the world's largest collection of DNA samples in psychiatric research — currently at over 175,000 samples — including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and healthy control samples. Analysis of 80,000 of these samples so far by Broad researchers and collaborators has linked more than 100 genomic regions to schizophrenia and begun to identify specific gene mutations and the critical underlying biological processes, such as an impaired ability of neurons to communicate with each other. Significant efforts are ramping up in bipolar disorder, autism, and other conditions.

"We are going to illuminate the biology behind these conditions," said Eric Lander, founding director and president of the Broad Institute. "If we know the biological causes, we can begin to dispel the stigma around people battling mental illness, and rigorously pursue better treatments that will transform patients' lives."

[For more information, see backgrounder on Genomics: Reinvigorating the field of psychiatric research]

Three lives converge on a shared scientific mission

This scientific success – and the historic commitment of funding announced today – stems, in large part, from the devotion of three extraordinary people whose lives converged at the Broad Institute.

Stanley's passion for the cause began decades ago when his son, Jonathan, was stricken with severe bipolar disorder while
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SOURCE Broad Institute
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