Policy ForumMedicine

The Future of Psychiatric Research: Genomes and Neural Circuits

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Science  26 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5973, pp. 1580-1581
DOI: 10.1126/science.1188654

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The burden of neuropsychiatric illnesses is enormous. These conditions, which include schizophrenia, mood disorders, and autism, affect thought, emotions, and a person's very sense of self. Together, they are the leading cause of disability in North America and Europe and constitute 40% of all years lost to disability. In the United States, the cost in lost earnings due to psychiatric disease is estimated conservatively to be $200 billion per year (1). The burden to individuals, families, and society is all the more tragic because these illnesses typically begin early in life, are life-long, and damage the affected individuals' self-perception, productivity, and ability to relate to others.