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The goal of research in the Wassink Laboratory is to identify genes that underlie susceptibility to a variety of psychiatric disorders, with our primary focus being autism. We use a variety of approaches in this endeavor, including positional cloning, sophisticated cytogenetic analyses, various microarray platforms, and candidate disease gene screening. We perform these studies in DNA obtained from numerous independent samples of families with multiple autistic individuals. We are also equipped to assess the function and expression of identified disease genes using an array of molecular and animal model techniques. We are also actively investigating the genetics of panic disorder and schizophrenia. The panic disorder work uses traditional positional cloning methods and a sample of moderate to large panic disorder pedigrees. The schizophrenia genetics research is performed in association with the Department of Psychiatry's Mental Health Clinical Research Center. We collect DNA from individuals with schizophrenia, their families, and psychiatrically normal control subjects. All of these individuals participate in protocols that gather data from a wide variety of research domains, including functional and structural brain imaging, cognitive testing, disease phenomenology, longitudinal progression of disease, etc. The goal with the schizophrenia sample, therefore, is to investigate relationships between genetic information and these other types of data. Extensive additional resources and expertise are available to us here at Iowa through our collaborations with the Center for Statistical Genetics, the UIHC Cytogenetics laboratory, and the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.
Thomas Wassink, MD, professional profile