Israeli researchers have received $2.1 million to conduct a study on the genetic basis of schizophrenia, along with a team from the US.

The US National Institutes of Health has awarded a “Grand Opportunity” grant to a team of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Silberman Institute of Life Sciences and the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, New York, to conduct a study on the genetic basis of schizophrenia. President Barack Obama personally announced the awards.

It has long been known that schizophrenia – a complex brain disease marked by often-frightening hallucinations and delusions – has a genetic component.

The newly funded grant builds on prior gene-hunting efforts, but the sample study group is unprecedented in size, consisting entirely of 4,000 individuals (patients and controls) of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, recruited in Israel.

“The unique demographic history of the Jewish Ashkenazi population… should allow disease-related genetic signals to stand out more clearly in our analyses,” says Prof. Darvasi from Israel. Additionally, this study will utilize the most advanced genetic technologies, which will permit examination of many more pieces of the genetic code than prior generations of research.