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McLean researchers

Deborah Levy: Psychology Research Laboratory

Breakthrough research into the genetic causes of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism is yielding invaluable clues about the biological mechanisms underlying these illnesses. The same mutations seem to be involved in all of these disorders and appear to be risk factors.

Our scientists have discovered an unusually high rate of certain kinds of rare genetic mutations in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Since these mutations can reveal specific disease mechanisms, they can also suggest treatments that target those mechanisms.

We recently carried out the first proof of principle clinical trial in which we tailored a treatment to a specific mutation. The treatment resulted in clinical improvements, which has important implications for other individuals who have the same mutation or similar mutations that impact the same biological processes.

Our studies continue the long tradition of collaboration that has distinguished the Psychology Research Laboratory since its founding in 1977 by the late Dr. Philip S. Holzman. Our work would not be possible without the collaboration not only of many other investigators but also of the many patients and families who have been vital to our success.