NIH chief talks mental health and genetics at October Suter seminar

Dr. Francis J. McMahon will give a Suter Science Seminar on Wednesday, October 14 at 4:15 p.m. at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU).

Attend via EMU’s Facebook Live page.

McMahon will speak on “Genetics of Mental Illness: Unique Insights from Studies of Amish and Mennonite Communities,” including an overview of the advances made in this field over the last 10 years. McMahon is chief of the Human Genetics Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health’s intramural research program, and teaches psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

McMahon was first featured in a 2018 EMU article about EMU alumna, Bev Miller, who was helping to raise awareness about bipolar disorder. Read more here.

The article, and Miller’s outreach, helped to publicize a still-current National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study enlisting the participation of people of Anabaptist heritage who have or are related to people with bipolar disorder. Also known as manic-depressive illness, it tends to run in families.

McMahon’s research focuses on identifying genetic markers associated with mood and anxiety disorders to improve patients’ diagnosis and treatment.

In particular, mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia commonly run in families, and exact a substantial burden on health, happiness, and longevity. McMahon’s work has been recognized with a variety of awards, including the Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research.

The next seminar is “Nuclear lamina and fatty liver disease,” to be given by Nov. 11 by University of Virginia School of Medicine professor Irina Bochkis.

The seminars are made possible by the sponsorship of the Daniel B. Suter Endowment in Biology and the co-sponsorship of supporting programs. Named in honor of long-time EMU biology professor, Daniel B. Suter (1920-2006), the Endowment in Biology was established in 1986 through the generous donations of alumni and friends and currently consists of over $1 million of invested funds. EMU hopes to double the Suter Endowment in order to more adequately support distinguished faculty and to increase scholarship aid to deserving students.

Discussion on “NIH chief talks mental health and genetics at October Suter seminar

  1. Thank you for scheduling this seminar. It is a very relevant topic for our community in this day and age.

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