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Genomics and the human genome project: implications for psychiatry

Abstract

In the past decade the Human Genome Project has made extraordinary strides in understanding of fundamental human genetics. The complete human genetic sequence has been determined, and the chromosomal location of almost all human genes identified. Presently, a large international consortium, the HapMap Project, is working to identify a large portion of genetic variation in different human populations and the structure and relationship of these variants to each other. The Human Genome Project has approached human genetics on a scale not previously seen in biology. This has been made possible by dramatic advances in high throughput technology and bio-informatics. Tools such as gene chips and micro-arrays have spawned an entirely new strategy to examine the function and expression of genes in a massively parallel fashion. Together these tools have dramatically advanced our knowledge about the human genome. They promise powerful new approaches to complex genetic traits such as psychiatric illness. The goals and progress of the Human Genome Project and the technology involved are reviewed. The implications of this science for psychiatric genetics are discussed.

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