Chicago - 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
The Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine welcomes you to attend a lecture featuring:
Akira Sawa, MD, PhD
Director and Sachiko Kuno and Ryuji Ueno Innovation Professor
Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health
Supported by technological advances and collaborative efforts, psychiatric genetics has provided robust genetic findings in the past decade, particularly through genome-wide association studies (GWASs). However, translating these genetic findings into biological mechanisms and new therapies has been enormously challenging because of the complexity of their interpretation. Furthermore, the heterogeneity among patients with the same diagnosis, such as schizophrenia or major depressive disorder, challenges the biological validity of existing categorical approaches, which is further complicated by the pleiotropic nature of many genetic variants across multiple disorders. Therefore, in the post-GWAS era, the greatest challenge lies in integrating such enriched genetic information with functional dimensions of neurobiological measures and observable behaviors. In this integration, the causal inference from genotypes to phenotypes through intermediate biological processes is of particular importance. This presentation aims to construct an intellectual framework in which we may obtain causal, mechanistic insights into how multifactorial etiologies, in particular many genetic variants, affect downstream biological pathways that lead to dimensions of psychiatric relevance.
Akira Sawa, MD, PhD, is a physician scientist in psychiatry and neuroscience, who originally received an M.D. from the University of Tokyo, followed by clinical and research training in both Japan and the United States. He is currently the Director and Endowed Chair of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center in which he leads an academic model that integrates patient care, research, and outreach. His research interest is to elucidate molecular and circuitry mechanisms of frontal lobe-mediated, high-level brain function in conjunction with adolescent brain maturation.