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Conversation with Anna di Rienzo. Part 3

Anna di Rienzo, Professor at the Department of Human Genetics of the University of Chicago.
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And do you see the research that is being done now in the right track to solve these complex problems? because you are showing us a very, very complex issue. Yes, it is a very complex issue. I can’t say that we know what the right direction is. I think that what many investigators are hoping is that whether or not we fully understand the genetics of the disease, we might have enough of an insight to the genetic basis of the disease, so that we can develop drugs that target that particular aspect of the biology of the disease that can serve as a treatment.
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If this research is so complex for cases like type 2 diabetes, it has to be much harder to get into psychiatric or psychological issues. Is it going to be fruitful? Is it going to be really worth the genetic analysis to try to understand the genetic bases of behavior? This is really a difficult question, and I’m sure that there is no one objective answer; we all have different opinions. I think what is going to be necessary for psychiatric diseases and behavioral traits is a better understanding of the biology of our brain and our nervous system, and how it is shaped by the environment in which we live.
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And I think that there is a lot of progress that is being made in that area, so that when we do a genome-wide association study for a psychiatric disease, we have better ways to interpret the results, and, in particular, to tell apart the true signal that has a biological meaning from signal that is probably spurious. So I think that there is a lot of work going on in this area. It’s very challenging because not only these conditions have a very significant environmental, especially social and economic component, but also learning about the biology of these diseases is complicated, because you need to have access to tissues that are rarely available.
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So that’s an additional layer of complexity that needs to be considered. So we have seen the complexity of trying to solve how genes are at the base of our self. Genes, and as Anna Di Rienzo told us, with interaction with the environment, and with very complex setting that genetics –biology- is trying to solve. But we have to understand we are still in its infancy. Thank you very much. You are welcome. Thanks.
Anna di Rienzo, Professor at the Department of Human Genetics of the University of Chicago.

Her research focuses on the genetic architecture of traits and diseases that vary across human populations; and on understanding the role of natural selection in shaping this architecture.

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