This report summarizes the deliberations of a panel with representation from diverse disciplines of relevance to the genetics of mood disorders. The major charge to the panel was to develop a strategic plan to employ the tools of genetics to advance the understanding, treatment, and outcomes for mood disorders. A comprehensive review of the evidence for the role of genetic factors in the etiology of mood disorders was conducted, and the chief impediments for progress in gene identification were identified. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) portfolios in the Genetics Research Branch and the Division of Mental Disorders, Behavioral Sciences, AIDS, and all genetics training activities were reviewed. Despite some promising leads, there are still no confirmed linkage findings for mood disorders. Impediments to gene finding include the lack of phenotypic validity, variation in ascertainment sources and methodology across studies, and genetic complexity. With respect to linkage, the committee recommended that a large-scale, integrated effort be undertaken to examine existing data from linkage and association studies of bipolar disorders using identical phenotypes and statistical methods across studies to determine whether the suggestive linkage findings at some loci can be confirmed. Confirmation would justify more intensive approaches to gene finding. The committee recommended that the NIMH support continued efforts to identify the most heritable subtypes and endophenotypes of major depression using the tools of genetic epidemiology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. The field of genetic epidemiology was identified as an important future direction because population-based, epidemiologic studies of families and unrelated affected individuals assume increasing importance for common chronic diseases. To prepare for shifts to more complex genetic models, the committee recommended that the NIMH develop new interdisciplinary training strategies to prepare for the next generation of genetics research.
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