UCI's Brain Imaging Center chosen to help advance nation's Roadmap for Medical Research

ople enter their most productive adult years. Current treatments decrease these symptoms, but few patients who suffer from schizophrenia can return to fully productive lives. UCI investigators on this study include computer scientist Padhraic Smyth, neuroanatomist James Fallon, cognitive scientist Jessica Turner and Hal Stern, professor and chair of statistics.

With the second grant, Potkin and his team will establish the Transdisciplinary Imaging Genetics Center, an exploratory center that will help forge the new research discipline of imaging genetics. Specialists in brain imaging (Turner), brain circuitry (Fallon), data mining (Smyth), statistics (Stern) and virtual reality and visualization (Falco Kuester, engineering researcher) from UCI and geneticists from the University of Toronto (Drs. James Kennedy and Fabio Macciardi) will integrate brain imaging data with the genetic information revealed by the human genome project to understand the hereditary nature of normal brain function and mental illnesses.

If the aims of this new center are achieved, Potkin said, the emerging field of imaging genetics will be positioned to enhance understanding of the biologically complex problem of mental illness, individual differences and the interplay between genetics, environment and brain function. NCI exploratory centers support novel interdisciplinary research strategies to solve significant biomedical problems. If successful, these centers can receive further funding for the development of an interdisciplinary research consortium.

"It is exciting to be part of creating a new field that brings together so many experts from very different fields, especially when it offers the promise of understanding an individual's brain function as an interaction of genetics and experience," Potkin said.

In addition, the Brain Imaging Center will be sponsoring the First International Symposium on Imaging Genetics at UCI Jan. 17-18, 2005. For more informat

Contact: Tom Vasich
University of California - Irvine

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