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Zhe Sun

Yale-Boehringer Ingelheim Biomedical Data Science Fellow '21

Yale-Boehringer Ingelheim Biomedical Data Science Fellow

Topic: Identify brain functional subnetworks and associated genetic vulnerabilities with comorbid mental disorders

Project Summary: Emerging evidence indicates that 1) boundaries of psychiatric illnesses are not sharp with behavioral traits and brain function; 2) individual behavioral differences are linked to variability in functional brain networks. These suggest that the spectra of symptom profiles observed in patients may arise through discernible patterns of functional connectome, with the disturbance of individual systems preferentially contributing to domain-specific, but disorder-general, impairments. Meanwhile, gene transcription could strongly correlate with network topography, potentially driving comorbidity between symptomatically related disorders. Hence, our overarching goal is to identify brain functional network fingerprints, link them to dimensional symptom profiles, and characterize the associated genetic underpinnings through a suite of powerful, biologically plausible and computationally efficient statistical models. Successful completion of this research will discover network-level biomarkers and associated genetic vulnerabilities, and facilitate the development of novel treatments and future classification schemes.