Biobanking, Biomarkers, and Multi-Omics in Psychiatry: a Comprehensive Perspective


Medical Center of the University of Munich, Institute of Psychiatric Phenomics and Genomics (IPPG), Munich, Germany


Psychiatric genetic has made tremendous progress over the last two decades. Large-scale collaborative efforts and major developments in molecular biological technologies, in particular genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have helped identify well over a hundred vulnerability genes for schizophrenia at genome-wide and thus robust levels of significance. With an ever increasing sample size for GWAS in bipolar disorder or major depression totaling several tens of thousands of patients and control individuals, the number of identified risk genes for these disorders is expected to rise as well. The polygenic background susceptibility identified by GWAS is complemented by studies interrogating rare genetic variation such as copy number variants (CNVs) or by whole genome sequencing approaches. Large consortia on pharmacogenetics or imaging genetics are adding to our knowledge of the genetic architecture of psychiatric illness.  Biobanking initiatives are paving the way for powerful in-depth biological studies.

Notwithstanding these scientific successes, the challenges facing the psychiatric genetic community are manifold: Can findings readily be translated from bench to bedside? How to communicate them to physicians, patients, their relatives, and the general public? What are the ethical, legal, and societal implications of genomic research?

Following an update on the state-of-the art of psychiatric genetics and biobanking, this workshop will discuss the aforementioned challenges. Novel “multi-omic” approaches will be presented and their future impact on biomarker development appraised. The usefulness of widely marketed direct-to-consumer tests including pharmacogenetic tests will be discussed. Finally, latest studies on people’s attitudes towards genetic research in psychiatry and its introduction to clinical settings will be presented.