Depression Center hosts pair of talks on genetics, personality and depression

Flint speaking to crowd

UCLA professor Jonathan Flint, MD, speaks to the crowd at a public seminar on genetics and depression.  [Photo: Nicholas Roznovsky/UCSF Psychiatry]

The UCSF Depression Center welcomed UCLA Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences Jonathan Flint, MD, to campus on December 13 & 14, 2016, for a pair of lectures covering genetic research on personality and depression. 

The free talks were part of the National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC) Visiting Professor Program, which provides support through competitive grants to allow researchers and clinicians to share their knowledge about mood disorders with colleagues and the general public. The UCSF Depression Center is one of 22 NNDC Centers of Excellence around the country. Additional support for the events was provided by the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and UCSF School of Nursing.

Flint is co-director of the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, the largest research study ever to examine the genetics of depression. He is a world-renowned scientist on genetic and cellular/molecular mechanisms in depression, how depression is associated with alterations in telomeres and mitochondria, and how genetics interact with the environment in depression. In 2015, he led a research team which identified the first two genetic markers reproducibly linked to major depressive disorder.

On December 13, he spoke about his groundbreaking large-scale study of the causes of depression in a technical lecture for department faculty, trainees and staff. Since 2008, Flint and his colleagues have collected depression-related data from 12,000 participants in China and have obtained genetic data which they are analyzing to obtain insight into the genetic origins of the disease. The entire presentation, titled "Next Generation Phenotyping and Molecular Markers of Depression," is available on the UCSF Psychiatry YouTube channel.

The following evening, he delivered a free seminar for patients, family members, clinicians and other community members interested in learning more about how mental health professionals use genetics to understand who we are. Tickets for the talk, “The Genetics of Personality & Depression,” sold out within 48 hours and those that were able to grab a seat enjoyed a highly informative, down-to-earth talk about genetic research, how and why it gets published, and what it means for patients and providers. This lecture, found below, is also archived on the UCSF Psychiatry YouTube Channel.

About UCSF Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute are among the nation's foremost resources in the fields of child, adolescent, adult and geriatric mental health. Together they constitute one of the largest departments in the UCSF School of Medicine and the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, with a mission focused on research (basic, translational, clinical), teaching, patient care and public service.

UCSF Psychiatry conducts its clinical, educational and research efforts at a variety of locations in Northern California, including UCSF campuses at Parnassus Heights, Mission Bay and Laurel Heights, the UCSF Medical Center at Mt. Zion, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, the San Francisco VA Health Care System and UCSF Fresno.

About the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences

The UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, established by the extraordinary generosity of Joan and Sanford I. "Sandy" Weill, brings together world-class researchers with top-ranked physicians to solve some of the most complex challenges in the human brain.

The UCSF Weill Institute leverages UCSF’s unrivaled bench-to-bedside excellence in the neurosciences. It unites three UCSF departments – Neurology, Psychiatry and Neurological Surgery – that are highly esteemed for both patient care and research, as well as the Neuroscience Graduate Program, a cross-disciplinary alliance of nearly 100 UCSF faculty members from 15 basic-science departments, as well as the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, a multidisciplinary research center focused on finding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

About UCSF

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, and other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area.