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Translational Imaging-Genetics: Making a Clinical Impact

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For just over a decade, the combination of brain imaging and genetics has been used to study neuropsychiatric disorders. Mapping gene effects in the brain has been used as an alternative to conventional genetic association studies to increase genetic penetrance on brain phenotypes that may be better ...

For just over a decade, the combination of brain imaging and genetics has been used to study neuropsychiatric disorders. Mapping gene effects in the brain has been used as an alternative to conventional genetic association studies to increase genetic penetrance on brain phenotypes that may be better biological indicators of gene effects as compared to categorical disease phenotypes. A substantial degree of success has been achieved in this regard as the structures or neural circuitry influenced by certain disease genes is now better understood. However, the clinical impact of these discoveries has been minimal at best. Over this next decade the power of the imaging-genetics approach may be harnessed to shape how we view psychiatric disorders, how we classify disease, how we prognosticate disease risk and disease trajectory, and how we think about current and novel treatments. The purpose of this editorial is to provide a forum to address the strengths and limitations of translational imaging-genetics in the attainment of the aforementioned goals. By ‘translational’ we directly encourage discussion of other lines of neuroscientific investigation that can inform imaging-genetics. For example, new animal imaging technology can provide a platform in which to investigate the effects of genetic manipulation in the brain at extremely high resolution across the lifespan. A bidirectional strategy between animal models and humans using the imaging-genetics approach is now a powerful reality. Similarly, the use of investigational drugs or therapies targeted in a genetically-informed manner can now be measured via the effects on the brain. However, very few studies are currently taking advantage of such cutting-edge collaborative neuroscience possibilities. Therefore, in addition to seeking contributions that describe more conventional imaging-genetics findings, we seek articles with vision for the future that can further transform this field as we move toward neurobiologically informed disease classification, prognostication, and treatments.

Contributions can include a review of imaging-genetics findings within a certain disease, imaging modality, or specific gene. Contributions can also include original articles presenting novel discovery: here preference will be given to articles that clearly identify the clinical value of the work presented. Contributions highlighting novel methodologies, genetic, imaging, statistical, or in combination with other techniques will also be of interest. Finally, perspectives regarding future directions will also be considered. As indicated above, articles that demonstrate how translational imaging-genetics approaches can help the field with respect to disease classification, prognostication, or treatment will be most highly valued.


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