Danuta Wasserman, M.D., Ph.D.

Danuta Wasserman, M.D., Ph.D.

Danuta Wasserman, M.D., Ph.D., Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Distinguished Investigator Grant (2010): $100,000

Investigation of Inheritance Patterns of Polymorphisms in Genes Regulating the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA Axis), in Relation to Suicidal Behavior and its Endophenotypes

Abstract: This is an excellent proposal from a very productive investigator with an outstanding research career in suicide and suicidal behaviors. This study will use 700 well-characterized family trios to study the genetics of suicidality. The proposal is strongly focused on HPA-axis genes. DNA has been collected from 672 family trios consisting of one suicide attempter offspring and both parents and from 520 healthy volunteers. Clinical data consists of interview and self-report data regarding demography, data on the attempt(s), personality, psychiatric diagnosis, suicide family history, medical damage rating, life events, perceived stress and objective measures of life stress. Many of the trios are derived from families that show an enrichment of suicidality not only in the offspring, but in the parents and siblings. The applicant plans to genotype 384 SNPs among 18 genes relevant to the HPA axis and three other genes based on previous studies including the 5HT1A, 5HT2A and GABAA1 receptor genes. The genetic variation in 21 genes related to HPA function, serotonin and GABA will be linked and associated with suicide attempt primarily, but also to psychiatric disorders, personality traits and exposure to life-time stress.

Click here to read about findings from Dr. Wasserman's Distinguished Investigator Grant.