Understanding the neurobiology of serious mental illness is essential for developing more effective treatments. Our laboratory takes advantage of insights into recently identified genes that confer risk for schizophrenia and related disorders and translates them into genetic mouse models to determine how these mutations affect brain changes and function, neurochemistry, and behavior.
Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism share several of these identified risk genes. Consistent with this genetic overlap, our recent postmortem study of neuronal morphology in bipolar disorder has shown, for the first time, structural abnormalities similar to those in schizophrenia. In addition, we have applied the mouse genetic strategy to mutations implicated in Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and substance abuse.