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Finding the genetic basis of pediatric onset bipolar disorder has long been part of the mission of the JBRF. 

Over the past decade there have been extraordinary technological advances made in identifying genes involved in a host of neuropsychiatric disorders, including adult forms of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and ADHD, among others.  Identifying the underlying genetic basis for such complex traits is quite difficult, and geneticists have had to rely on several different strategies, each requiring their own unique patient/family population.

Large multi-generation families with many affected members were needed for the earliest type of genetic analysis. The next strategy required affected sibling pairs, then family trios (mother, father and affected child). More recently, individual cases (thousands of them) have been needed. The newest technique – arguably the most challenging genetic strategy of all – is a very in-depth survey of the human genome that will require (going back full circle) the recruitment of families with many affected individuals. This could include multiple siblings with bipolar disorder, as well as their affected parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts.

On December 15th, the Lattner Family Foundation, Inc. granted JBRF $170,000 to undertake such a study with the goal of identifying the gene or genes suspect in early onset bipolar disorder.

This study will be undertaken in conjunction with various members of the JBRF research consortium.  The genes will be sequenced at the Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine under the supervision of Dr. Herb Lachman.