Psychiatric Illnesses

The Division of Psychiatric Genomics in the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology is dedicated to improving treatment options and care for the millions of patients affected by diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Our approach pulls together all relevant data to build a comprehensive analysis of how these diseases function. We rely on the best and most innovative technologies, including DNA sequencing and advanced computational biology. We hope to shape future psychiatric treatments by using modern genomics to understand the biology and risk of developing psychiatric disease.

Current areas of research include: large scale genome-wide association studies, rare variant identification through next-generation sequencing, biological follow-up of candidate genes, transcriptional analysis of RNA from postmortem human brain, and the generation and study of pathways and biology in induced pluripotent stem cells from patients.

Our molecular translational laboratories focus on understanding the pathobiology for each psychiatric disease, while our clinical trials conduct early-stage investigations for new treatments and tests for neuropsychiatric disorders.


Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental illness that affects 1 percent of the global population, including 2.4 million American adults. Symptoms include persistent auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia, among others. Patients today are treated with antipsychotic therapies that have seen little innovation over the past 20 years.

Our psychiatric genomics researchers participated in two of the largest schizophrenia exome studies to date. Together, these studies sequenced the genes of nearly 7,000 people in Bulgaria and Sweden to determine the genetic differences between people with schizophrenia and healthy controls.

These studies have established critical new scientific resources for the biomedical community. And have demonstrated that the disorder is likely caused by more rare genetic mutations than previously suspected. The clinical and genetic information gathered on more than 3,000 affected individuals has produced the world's largest database on schizophrenia, an invaluable resource to the biomedical community.

These studies highlight a future where we may be able to tailor treatment for patients. With so many rare mutations at play, future schizophrenia treatments could include creating disease subtypes to deliver more effective therapies.