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The Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics is established to facilitate the development of a multidisciplinary, integrated research program in the Genetic Epidemiology of Psychiatric Illness and Human Behavior and Development in the Departments of Psychiatry and Human Genetics at the Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Part of the fascination of psychiatric and behavioral genetics lies in the fact that almost all facets of the expression of genes and environment are relevant to the understanding of the etiology and developmental trajectory of psychiatric disorders and behavioral phenotypes. A wide variety of epigenetic factors intervene to modify the expression of genes in normal and abnormal behavior including the different genetic and social contexts associated with gender and ethnic differences, variation in the family and individual environment and the inherent changes which occur during development and aging. Current problems in behavior and psychiatric genetics range from characterizing specific susceptibility loci at the molecular level to exploring the role of latent genetic and environmental factors in the onset and course of behavioral phenotypes and psychiatric disorders. Such a multi-level understanding of the role of genes and environment in psychiatric illness and behavior requires a multidisciplinary approach which integrates the diverse methods and insights of biometrical and mendelian genetics, genetic epidemiology, clinical psychology and psychiatry, and molecular biology/ human gene mapping.


The Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics was established in 1996.

This research program of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics is formed from two closely inter-related research groups who have worked together for more than a decade.

The first of these, the Psychiatric Genetics Research Program (PGRP), is directed by Kenneth S. Kendler, and is in the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. PGRP faculty include Ananda Amstadter, Silviu Bacanu, Scott Bowers Sam Chen, Danielle Dick, Ayman Fanous, Nathan Gillespie, Jack Hettema, Shawn Latendresse, Michael C. Neale, Brien P. Riley, Roxanne Roberson-Nay, Vladimir Vladimirov, and Todd Webb.

The second of these groups, headed by Lindon J. Eaves, the Genetic Epidemiology Research Group (GERG), is in the Department of Human Genetics, which is also in the School of Medicine at VCU. GERG faculty include Hermine H. Maes, Judy L. Silberg, and Tim York.

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