Genomic mechanisms underlying the prenatal and early childhood origins of mental illness in children

The last decade has seen an explosion of genomic and health-related data. These data can advance precision medicine, but only if we apply the right analyses. I use statistical methods that link together many different types of large genomic and health datasets. My research identifies genomic mechanisms that lead to disease, which is the first step towards improving patient care. A primary goal of my research is to learn about the genes that cause mental illnesses like attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. We know that genes are important to ADHD risk. We also know that babies born small are at increased risk of ADHD, and that the placenta influences a baby’s growth in the womb. What we do not know, however, is how genes that are important to placenta function also affect a baby’s future risk of ADHD. Answers to this question will help us understand ADHD biology so that we can develop better prevention and treatment strategies and give all children the best start in life.