School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Sumeyye Ozkaya

PhD student



Project title: Exploring Endophenotypes in People with Low, Average and High Genetic Risk Depression

Summary: Depression is one of the most common psychiatric disorders and a severe disease burden, which is associated with drastic negative impacts on individuals and even populations such as increased disability, higher suicide rates and heart diseases (Ferrari et al., 2013). Depression is moderately heritable and genome-wide studies suggest this genetic component is explained by the aggregate effects of thousands of genetic variants with small effect sizes (Gratten, Wray, Keller, & Visscher, 2014; Sullivan et al 2010). Nevertheless the mechanism by which genes lead to depression remains largely unknown.

Endophenotypes are quantifiable traits that are considered to be more closely related to genetic risk for the disorder and act as a mediating link between genetic disposition and symptoms of a disorder (Gottesman & Gould, 2003). Several endophenotypes have been proposed for depression including cognitive, neuroendocrinological or neurobiological components.

This study aims to explore many of these endophenotypes in individuals with low, average and high polygenic risk scores (PRSs) for depression to identify possible causal pathways between genetic risk and disorders and novel targets for intervention. By examining the interaction between these endophenotypes, I also aim to create a holistic depiction of risk and protective factors for depression.