This Career Development Award (K01) will provide the candidate with the necessary skills to develop an independent research program that uses epidemiologic methods to identify biologically-informative determinants of neuropsychiatric disease. Although current evidence suggests that genetic influences on neuropsychiatric phenotypes cross DSM-IV boundaries, the extent to which either common or rare genetic variants associated with autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder affect behavior and cognition in the general population is not well understood. The overall aim of the current proposal is to test the hypotheses that: 1) there is a genetic link between severely disordered and subclinical behavioral impairments and 2) the genetic variants that increase risk for DSM-IV disorders influence population variation in multiple domains of behavior and cognition. Stated otherwise, this proposal examines the extent to which different types and severities of disordered behavior share genetic influences, or are genomically-bridged. The findings from these studies will help establish sets of behavior that are likely to share underlying pathophysiology. The identification of such etiologically-linked systems of behavior will aid in th classification of individuals for future research studies and accelerate the pace of specifically-targeted treatment development. The training component of the proposed award, centered in the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, is designed to provide the candidate with the skills necessary to reach her independent research and career goals, as well as to complete the K01 research aims. Dr. Robinson has a background in behavior genetics (twin studies) and the epidemiology of childhood behavioral disorders, but no training in the use of measured genetic variables or developmental approaches to psychiatric phenotypes. She will accordingly be trained in two novel areas by internationally-recognized experts in each field: 1) statistical genetics, mentored by Dr. Mark Daly, and 2) trajectories of psychiatric neurodevelopmental disorders, mentored by Dr. Ezra Susser. Within these training areas, Dr. Robinson will develop skills in the analysis of both common and rare genetic variation, and integrate those techniques with strategies employed to examine neuropsychiatric phenotypes across the lifecourse. She will be trained in each area through course work;individual training with Drs. Daly, Susser, and seven expert consultants;conference attendance;and supervised research projects. The training aims will be applied in the research component of the award, titled the Genomic Bridge Project: three studies designed by Drs. Robinson, Daly, and Susser to test the hypotheses above. The studies use data from the two largest, individually-genotyped general population datasets in the world in which behavior has been deeply phenotyped from childhood through adolescence, the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Together, these training and research projects will constitute the basis for an R01 proposal that Dr. Robinson will prepare in the fourth and fifth years of the award period, under continued guidance from Drs. Daly and Susser. This R01 will employ the training and research completed during the Career Development Award period to investigate the genetic influences on systems of behavioral and cognitive impairment in the general population.

Public Health Relevance

The Genomic Bridge Project examines: 1) the etiologic relationship between behaviors typical of autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder and 2) the etiologic relationship between severely disordered behavior and subclinical traits of each disorder. Findings from these studies will help establish sets of behavior that are likely to share underlying pathophysiology. The identification of such etiologically-linked systems of behavior will aid in the classification of individuals for future research studies and accelerate the pace o research and specifically-targeted treatment development.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology Study Section (BGES)
Program Officer
Sarampote, Christopher S
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Massachusetts General Hospital
United States
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Bishop, Somer L; Farmer, Cristan; Bal, Vanessa et al. (2017) Identification of Developmental and Behavioral Markers Associated With Genetic Abnormalities in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Am J Psychiatry 174:576-585
St Pourcain, B; Robinson, E B; Anttila, V et al. (2017) ASD and schizophrenia show distinct developmental profiles in common genetic overlap with population-based social communication difficulties. Mol Psychiatry :
Kosmicki, Jack A; Samocha, Kaitlin E; Howrigan, Daniel P et al. (2017) Refining the role of de novo protein-truncating variants in neurodevelopmental disorders by using population reference samples. Nat Genet 49:504-510
Weiner, Daniel J; Wigdor, Emilie M; Ripke, Stephan et al. (2017) Polygenic transmission disequilibrium confirms that common and rare variation act additively to create risk for autism spectrum disorders. Nat Genet 49:978-985
Germine, L; Robinson, E B; Smoller, J W et al. (2016) Association between polygenic risk for schizophrenia, neurocognition and social cognition across development. Transl Psychiatry 6:e924
Robinson, Elise B; St Pourcain, Beate; Anttila, Verneri et al. (2016) Genetic risk for autism spectrum disorders and neuropsychiatric variation in the general population. Nat Genet 48:552-5
Robinson, E B; Kirby, A; Ruparel, K et al. (2015) The genetic architecture of pediatric cognitive abilities in the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort. Mol Psychiatry 20:454-8
Robinson, Elise B; Neale, Benjamin M; Hyman, Steven E (2015) Genetic research in autism spectrum disorders. Curr Opin Pediatr 27:685-91
Robinson, Elise B; Samocha, Kaitlin E; Kosmicki, Jack A et al. (2014) Autism spectrum disorder severity reflects the average contribution of de novo and familial influences. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:15161-5