Ellison Medical Foundation amplifies search for clues to mental illness
Jesse Gray, PhD, assistant professor of genetics at HMS, is exploring that possibility with the help of a $250,000 grant from the Ellison Foundation.
The project arises at the intersection of neuroscience and human genetics and represents the beginning of a long-term collaboration between Gray and Steven McCarroll, PhD, assistant professor of genetics, who acknowledge that identifying the specific genome sequence variations that underlie risk of mental illness is challenging.
"The genetic variations responsible for disease risk are like needles in a genetic haystack," says Gray. "Recent work has reduced this haystack to a series of small piles of hay, but the challenge remains to sort efficiently through these piles. We are ecstatic to have the Ellison Foundation's support as we embark on this innovative and worthwhile project."
Their research uses Massively Parallel Reporter Assay (MPRA) technology to test the ability of thousands of candidate enhancers to activate neuronal gene expression, searching for the specific genome sequence variations that could point to potential mental illness.
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