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Understanding and predicting the intergenerational transmission of mental illness

Mental illness runs in families.

The FAMILY consortium aims to improve the life of mentally-ill persons and their families.

FAMILY will use novel prediction models that are based on better understanding the mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of mental illness.

The objectives are to

  • improve causal understanding and gain prediction power from the family context by the innovative combination of statistical modelling of genetically informed designs, causal inference, multimodal and multilevel normative prediction, and molecular mapping, brought by world-leading neuroscientific expertise of the consortium, and
  • address key bioethical and social issues raised by the concept of intergenerational risk transmission and risk prediction.
  • FAMILY will bring together the largest existing human (epi)genetic and neuroimaging datasets from both within-family population cohorts and familial high-risk offspring studies,
  • as well as utilise innovative animal models to shed light on pathways underlying intergenerational risk transmission.
  • FAMILY will focus specifically on risk for mood and psychosis symptoms and diagnoses.
  • In-depth causal analyses of how and when risk for mental illness occurs will help identify early risk and resilience factors and predict who is likely to be diagnosed or develop symptoms of mental illness.
  • Advanced insights can uncover new targets for the development of preventive strategies to break the intergenerational cycle of mental illness and to support strengths and resource building.
  • An immediate benefit will be to open direct translational perspectives to mental health care professionals by providing new (family-based) risk prediction tools for the early identification of adults and children at risk, and
  • to deliver ethical guidelines to guide its implementation.
  • This will accelerate preventive and treatment intervention in vulnerable families and help target resilience strategies to prevent the transition from health to disease despite high familial risk.