The lecture will be broadcast live on the web and later archived at http://videocast.nih.gov.
October 12, 2005, 3:00-4:00 PM ET.
Building 10, Jack Masur Auditorium, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD, or http://videocast.nih.gov.
Weinberger will explain why such psychiatric genetics has proven to be a daunting challenge, using as an example the gene that codes for catecho-O-methyltransferase (COMT), the enzyme that breaks down the chemical messenger dopamine. A tiny variation in its sequence results in different versions of the gene. One leads to more efficient functioning of the prefrontal cortex, the other to less efficient prefrontal functioning and slightly increased risk for schizophrenia. New studies are revealing complex interactions between the tiny glitch and other variations within the gene, and with environmental events, such as teenage marijuana use, that may bias the brain toward psychosis.
Weinberger is Director of the Genes, Cognition and Psychosis Program at the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health. The program uses brain imaging, post-mortem analysis and molecular approaches to understand how genes work in the brain to produce schizophrenia.