Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

Project title: Impact of genetically regulated neuro-immune gene expression on childhood brain development
Daniel Geschwind, MD, PhD – UCLA
Susan Bookheimer PhD – UCLA
Michael Gandal – University of Pennsylvania
Wesley Thompson - Laureate Institute for Brain Research
Multidisciplinary Expertise:
Neuroscience, statistical genetics, functional genomics, neuroimaging
Project Description:
Altered neuro-immune gene expression has been observed in postmortem brain tissue from individuals with neurodevelopmental, psychiatric disorders. Neuro-immune pathways also play a critical role in typical neurodevelopment, including age-related pruning of synaptic processes. One mechanism by which neuro-immune function may affect the brain is through effects on synaptic pruning during development; however, the effects of neuro-immune gene expression on in vivo brain development are not known. Through a coordinated set of multimodal analyses integrating genetics, transcriptomics, and in vivo neuroimaging, this project aims to define the genetic architecture of brain gene expression and to test the relationship between individual’s predicted brain gene expression and in vivo neuroimaging measures in a largely typically-developing, population-based cohort of children. This research will expand our understanding of the genetic mechanisms regulating gene expression in the human brain and may ultimately aid in the prospective identification of youth at increased genetic risk for mental illness.