Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are serious mental illnesses that affect more than 2% of adults. These diseases are notoriously complex in terms of genetics, molecular mechanisms and treatment. Recent efforts in the genetics of neuropsychiatric disorders have expanded our understanding of the complex and polygenic architecture by identifying multiple common variants with small effects and rare variants with a range of effects. The majority of the risk variation resides in noncoding regions of the genome, which makes it challenging to mechanistically link variants to disease phenotypes due to lack of a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory and epigenomic landscape of the human brain. We believe that the key to developing novel treatments and promoting Precision Psychiatry depends on a better understanding of the molecular biology of psychiatric disease.
With this goal in mind, the CommonMind Consortium was established to apply the latest high-throughput genomics techniques to measure gene expression, genetic variation and chromatin accessibility in a large set of affected patients and control individuals. In our paper, out today in Scientific Data, we present a public resource of functional genomic data (genotypes, gene expression and chromatin accessibility) from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of approximately 1,000 individuals from four separate brain banks, including more than 450 cases diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The CommonMind Consortium has been committed from the very beginning to creating a public resource to empower other researchers to take advantage of this dataset. We have used the Synapse platform to not only host the files, but also to organize and annotate our dataset to maximize usability from the research community.
Ongoing research efforts are taking advantage of the CommonMind Consortium brain collection to expand the diversity of multi-scale omics data profiled in those samples. Such data include whole genome sequencing, gene expression and chromatin accessibility analysis at the single cell level, additional epigenome assays that explore the higher order chromatin structure and proteomics analysis. All this work is necessary to provide additional insights into human brain origin, development, and function in health and disease.
Finally, we dedicate this paper to Pamela Sklar, who was one of the leaders of the CommonMind Consortium.