Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research
The mission of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute is to decrease the burden of psychiatric disorders through research. Psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, other mood disorders, and autism are enormous contributors to global disease burden. They exert potent negative effects on individuals and families, disrupt the ability of young people to learn in school, and, in aggregate, produce more disability worldwide than any other class of disease. Despite their outsized public health significance, their underlying biology remains a challenging frontier, and treatment discovery has slowed to a near standstill.
Because of its remarkable complexity and inaccessibility to direct investigation, the human brain has given up its secrets grudgingly. Thus the Stanley Center aims to exploit the significant role of genetics in the pathogenesis of psychiatric diseases as an effective window into their biology and as clues to new therapeutics. This approach, grounded in genetics, was initiated by the founding director of the Center, Ed Scolnick, and supported by a visionary gift from the Stanley Medical Research Institute. At present, the Stanley Center, which also incorporates the former Psychiatric Disease Program at the Broad Institute, has substantial programs working to identify the genetic variants that confer risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The Center also supports efforts in neurobiology, stem cell biology, chemical biology, biochemistry, behavior, and clinical investigation in service of discovering both disease mechanisms and new avenues to treatment.
The Center has extensive collaborations with investigators both within the local Harvard and MIT communities and more broadly across the world. A current summary of the Stanley Center’s progress and plans is available in an Executive Summary from its 2011 Fifth Annual Progress Report (January 2012). Given the growing success of genetic analysis, Steven E. Hyman, who became the director of the Stanley Center in 2012, has begun a series of scientific meetings aimed at facilitating the development of tools that can use emerging genetic information to greatest advantage.