Research Looks at How Environment and Genetics Interact to Produce Schizophrenia

Andrew Feinberg, M.D., MPH, of Johns Hopkins University is leading a study, funded by The National Institute of Mental Health, into determining how environment and genetics interact to produce schizophrenia. Most researchers believe that schizophrenia has a large genetic component that determines who experiences this disorder. For instance, studies have consistently shown that there is a higher incidence of schizophrenia in identical twins, than in fraternal twins, which in turn have a higher incidence than siblings in general. However, even in identical twins, if one of the kids have schizophrenia, there is still only a 50% chance that the other child will too – despite the fact that they have identical genes. Researchers now believe that there are likely genetic markers for schizophrenia and that these genes express themselves only when there is an environmental trigger. The research hopes to decipher the intricate interplay between genes and environment in producing schizophrenia.

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