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Sex and Gender Differences

Most psychiatric disorders have pronounced sex/gender differences in prevalence.  Despite decades of research, the causes of these differences are not well understood.  Using novel approaches and larger datasets we are able to tackle longstanding questions in this area.  A few of our ongoing investigations are: genome wide association studies (GWAS) and genetic correlation analyses of hormone related traits and their relationships to psychiatric disorders, polygenic scoring analyses to detect differences in vulnerability to PTSD genetic risk in specific populations, and item response theory investigations of the robustness of PTSD measures in females and males.  (Canadian Institutes of Health Research for graphic)


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Trans-Ancestry Genetic Analyses


Most genetic research has been conducted on European ancestry populations. The transferability of results to more diverse populations is one of the most important topics in genetics right now, and we have a proven track record of publishing genetic analyses with diverse populations, and also raising awareness through analytical benchmarking of representation. Current work in this area is supported by NIH through a Population Health Sciences Spectrum Pilot Grant on Quantifying Individual Genetic Risk in Diverse Populations.



Genome-scale analyses, international consortia 

The biggest discoveries in modern genetics are often carried out by international consortia. Alternatively, they may rely on data resources from international efforts such as the 1000 Genomes Project. We work closely with the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), which is is the world’s largest group of researchers focused on the genetics of psychiatric disorders (with 800+ members to date). Dr. Duncan led the analysis and writing of flagship papers for both the PTSD and Anorexia groups of the PGC. Projects focused on schizophrenia employed pathway analyses on both GWAS and sequence data to identify relevant biological processes and cell types.



Interdisciplinary knowledge transfer promotes discovery

Clear communication - within and across disciplines - is something that we are passionate about in the Integrative Mental Health Lab. Current efforts combine novel genetic results with explanations that are accessible to clinicians and neuroscientists. Past success in this area is evidenced by articles that are highly cited across disciplines, used to set editorial policies at other journals, and used as teaching material in courses across the country.

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