We are a research group in the Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in the Semel Institute of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. We are also affiliated with the Departments of Human Genetics and Computational Medicine and the Bioinformatics, Human Genetics and Medical Informatics PhD programs.
We study the genetics of severe mental illness. Specifically, we aim to characterize and predict psychiatric disease trajectories using genetic and high-dimensional phenotypic data resources, such as electronic health records. We have a special focus on studying genetic and environmental risk factors that contribute to the cause and course of illness in admixed Latin American populations. Through Misión Origen, we are creating a biobank for Severe Mental Illness, consisting of 100,000 participants from the Paisa region of Colombia.
We are funded by:
NEW PREPRINT: How stable are psychiatric diagnoses? Check out our new preprint on trajectories of severe mental illness, led by the amazing @juandelahozco! Spoiler alert: not very. Switching between diagnoses is common, and patients often accumulate comorbidities.
We leverage 17 years of Electronic Health Record data from a psychiatric hospital to study diagnostic instability and illness trajectories. We delineate disease trajectories for >22,000 individuals treated for severe mental illness. These trajectories are diverse: they include both diagnostic switching and the accumulation of comorbidities. We also identify predictors of visit-to-visit diagnostic instability by combining structured data and NLP-features extracted from clinical notes. Resources like this set the stage for advancing large-scale genomic research in Colombia.
NEW PREPRINT: We used Electronic Health Records from Caldas, Colombia to characterize geographic variation in major mental disorders.
We found a relationship of distance decay between travel time and the incidence for mild (outpatients) but not severe (inpatients) presentations of mental illness. We also found several hotspots of severe mental illness in the region. This is exciting, since each hotspot is a candidate for further research to identify genetic or environmental risk factors for severe mental illness.
We welcome Aditya Pimplaskar as an official lab member! Aditya is doing his PhD in Bioinformatics and will work on developing tools to cluster patients with similar trajectories. Welcome Aditya!
The Loes lab is finally back on campus!
NEW PAPER: We studied the genetics of onset characteristics of bipolar disorder; out now! The bottom line: phenotypic heterogeneity made this genetic study really complicated, and interesting too. It was amazing to work with so many devoted PGCgenetics researchers on this. Check it out!
Check out Juan de la Hoz in the Semel trainee spotlight!
We loved hosting two amazing students for BIG summer this year: Julia Bowers and Benjamin Simon! They used clinical notes to cluster psychiatric patients and won the outstanding research award! Juan de la Hoz was their direct mentor and won both the award for outstanding mentorship and outstanding TA-ship.
What a summer! Congrats Julia, Benjamin and Juan!!