Mental Health Disorders

One of the most challenging areas of biomedical research during the last 30 years has been that of mental health disorders. Despite significant advances in genomic approaches, progress has been slow in uncovering the roots of many debilitating conditions including autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. However, over the last several years, powerful new research tools have been developed that are changing the landscape of diagnosis and therapeutic development. Building on discoveries made at Whitehead Institute, researchers are focusing on understanding connections between metabolism and mental health. 

The underlying hypothesis is that many mental health conditions include strong contributions from mutation-driven biochemical and metabolic changes in neurons or other brain cells. Researchers at Whitehead Institute are integrating genetic, metabolomic, and functional analysis in zebrafish and mouse models, and human cell lines. The outcomes are already producing concrete and powerful knowledge that can be translated into novel and effective therapies. 

Please partner with researcher Hazel Sive as she and others make further strides toward understanding and treating mental health disorders.


Addition to opioids and substance abuse disorders are some of the most urgent public health crises in the US, with drug overdose being the leading cause of accidental death. Opioid addiction is estimated to be 60%  genetic, however the variants and genes that define this heritability have remained elusive. Ongoing research at Whitehead Institute aims to utilize new understandings of the 3-dimensional structure of the genome in order to reveal the elements which predispose individuals to addiction.

Please partner with researcher Olivia Corradin as she makes further strides toward understanding and treating addiction.