Virginia Willour, Ph.D.

Virginia Willour, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

Young Investigator Grant (2008): $72,250

Mentor: James Potash, M.D., M.P.H., University of Iowa

Genome-Wide Association Study of Attempted Suicide

Abstract: Genetic studies of families with marked patterns of psychiatric disorders provide strong evidence that there are genetic risk factors for suicidal behavior. In this study the investigators will compare DNA samples from 1,000 subjects with mood disorders (bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or recurrent unipolar depression) and a history of attempted suicide; 1,000 subjects with mood disorders but no history of attempted suicide and 1,000 normal controls (with no history of mood disorders or suicide attempts). The initial comparisons will use the whole genome to identify the top 3-5 candidate genes associated with suicidal behavior. These genes will then be studied in depth with the goal of identifying specific genetic variations characteristic of persons at increased risk of making a suicide attempt. It is anticipated that study results will ultimately be useful in identifying and treating high risk individuals prior to suicidal behavior.