$100 million for the brain

Helen Palmer Mar 9, 2007

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: $100 million. It’s the biggest award ever given for psychiatric disease research. The recipient is the Broad Institute, the 4-year-old offshoot of Harvard and MIT. From the Health Desk at WGBH, Helen Palmer has more.


HELEN PALMER: This award comes from the Stanley Medical Research Institute, a family philanthropy.

With $10 million a year for the next 10 years, the new center can analyze thousands of genetic samples from people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

PAMELA SKLAR: For both disorders, we know virtually nothing about what causes them.

That’s Pamela Sklar, director of genetics for the new institute. She says both disorders have a strong genetic component. Finding the exact genes involved is vital.

Another task, says Sklar, is gathering DNA samples.

SKLAR: Currently, there don’t exist in the world enough to really convincingly do all the kinds of experiments that we need to do.

They’ll test the samples with thousands of chemicals to see how the disease genes are affected. But, says Sklar, it’s impossible to say how soon any therapies might emerge.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.