121 — Whole genome sequencing in psychiatric disorders: the WGSPD consortium

Sanders et al (10.1038/s41593-017-0017-9)

Read on 19 December 2017
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Neuropsychiatric disorders are notoriously difficult to trace back to their genetic underpinnings, but when large-scale, well-funded studies publish genome-wide assays, the data richness enables great leaps forward in our understanding of the biological functions that underly these disorders.

Because of the immense amount of infrastructure required, few studies have been able to federate resources to combine full-genome datasets in the past: The combination of technological, financial, and logistical coordination has made large-scale genome-wide databases difficult to stand up and maintain.

The Whole Genome Sequencing for Psychiatric Disorders Consortium, or WGSPD, is a joint effort between the National Institutes for Mental Health and the Stanley Center, as well as eleven other academic institutions, that aims to leverage these distributed teams and resources to generate a single large genomics database that includes 18,000 individuals with autism spectrum disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, as well as 150,000 control subjects that exhibit none of the above disorders.

This program also aims to collect and support tools to catalog the genomes and enable analyses on cloud compute resources. This lowers the egress costs of resident cloud-storage datasets, and improves the scalability of research studies. The WGSPD Consortium also aims to study four projects in particular as ambassador-projects to the dataset: These projects include bipolar and schizophrenia studies in individuals of African-American ancestry; autism studies with a single affected child (to study de novo mutations), analyses of recently “bottlenecked” populations, and family-based studies of neuropsychiatric disease in families with multiple affected individuals.

This undertaking is beginning now, though the paper does not give a time estimate for completion of the datasets or the availability of the resources.