Today (Monday, October 21) was the last day of the five-day 2013 XXIst World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics in Boston and the tremendous success of the meeting and the enormous progress that has recently been made were remarked upon in a comment to BioQuick by Tom Insel (photo), M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) since 2002. “This is a rapidly moving field. Five years ago, we had too few disease-associated variants. Now, perhaps, we have too many. At this meeting, we have heard reports of the identification of over 100 schizophrenia-associated SNPs, some overlapping with bipolar disorder. This is huge. In addition, we have heard about the identification of several rare variants associated with autism and intellectual disability. This is also huge,” Dr. Insel said. Many other new and exciting discoveries were described at the Congress and virtually all of the attendees would agree with Olli Pietilainen, Ph.D., from the Institute for Molecular Medicine at the University of Finland, and presenter of his group’s identification of a gene deletion associated with schizophrenia and intellectual disability, who commented to BioQuick that this was “absolutely the best of the many psychiatric congresses I have attended.” In keeping with the extremely high quality of the entire meeting. the final day’s opening plenary session featured lively presentations and a panel discussion involving four of the world leaders in their specialties, along with interactive audience participation on two questions--(1) how the field could continue the process of genetic discovery, and (2) what are the next steps to achieve biological understanding and translation of discoveries into the clinic.
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