Janitza Montalvo-Ortiz, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, received the Pamela Sklar Innovation Award on behalf of the Latin American Genomics Consortium (LAGC) at the 2023 World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics Awards Ceremony in Montreal, Canada, in October.
Montalvo-Ortiz is co-founder and co-chair of LAGC, the largest consortia of psychiatric genomics research in Latin Americans. Its aim is to accelerate psychiatric genomics research in Latin American populations and foster collaborations globally by increasing sample size of genomic studies, developing novel methods that account for admixture, supporting recruitment and genotyping efforts in Latin American countries and worldwide, and providing educational and training resources for Latin American researchers.
LAGC was recognized for establishing the largest collaboration of diverse Latin American psychiatric geneticists and for its methods innovation and training of the next generation of researchers.
LAGC was established in 2019 at the World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics representing the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Australia, and eight Latin American countries, including Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador.
The Sklar award is administered by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and named for the late Pamela Sklar, an American psychiatrist and passionate mentor for women in science.
Montalvo-Ortiz, who leads the Laboratory of Neuroepigenetics and Psychiatric Genomics and part of the Division of Human Genetics at Yale School of Medicine, studies the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms associated with psychiatry disorders, with a focus on post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, and major depressive disorder. She investigates how trauma-related events increase the vulnerability to develop mental disorders later in life. Her lab employs computational approaches to multi-omics datasets to better understand the underlying molecular mechanisms and identify predictors or biomarkers of psychiatric disorders.