Dr Pippa Thomson
I am a Lecturer and Psychiatric Genetics and Biology Group Leader, at the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine (CGEM) within the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM). I obtained a BSc in Biology from the University of Bristol. I subsequently joined the laboratory of Professor Terry Burke at the University of Leicester, where I completed a BBSRC Industrial Case PhD developing genetic markers to build the chicken linkage map, and to characterise chicken telomeres and telomere-related sequences. Following the group’s move to the University of Sheffield, I worked as a post-doctoral research associate on European FP6-funded Avian Biodiversity Programme, examining the distribution of population-specific (private) alleles and the amount of genetic variation shared among rare breeds of chickens. In 2000, I moved to the University of Edinburgh and switched species. Working in the laboratory of Professor David Porteous, and alongside colleagues from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (Division of Psychiatry), I am using genetics to understand how the brain controls behaviour through studying genetic susceptibility to psychiatric illness (depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia). I was awarded an RCUK Fellowship in Translational Medicine (Genetics, Genomic and Pathway Biology), combining both genetic, statistical and molecular approaches to understand the genetic basis of major mental illness. I continue this work, using linkage, association and whole genome sequence analysis to identify risk variants for mental illness and related quantitative traits such as cognition and mood, in both clinical and population-based cohorts. Key to this is using bioinformatics to understand the biological processes affected and integrating our understanding of the interaction between genetic and environmental effects acting on these complex phenotypes. In parallel, I use molecular cell biology to investigate the functional effects of a risk variant in GPR50 a candidate gene for affective disorder. This has identified a potential role for GPR50 in neurodevelopment through the activation of the WAVE complex. I teach within undergraduate and postgraduate courses, both based in Edinburgh and by e-learning, and contribute to the planning, preparation and delivery of the Human Complex Trait module of the Quantitative Genetics and Genetics Analysis MSc (http://qgen.bio.ed.ac.uk/).
708 Common and 2010 rare DISC1 locus variants identified in 1542 subjects
Association of DISC1 variants with age of onset in a population-based sample of recurrent major depression
DISC1 and Huntington's disease-overlapping pathways of vulnerability to neurological disorder?
DISC1 association, heterogeneity and interplay in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
GPR50 interacts with neuronal NOGO-A and affects neurite outgrowth