The Mayo Clinic Individualized Medicine Biobank for Bipolar Disorder was established in 2009, by co-principal investigators Mark A. Frye, M.D., and Joanna M. Biernacka, Ph.D. The first few years were dedicated primarily to participant recruitment and collection of clinical data and blood specimens from participants. The biobank now includes samples and data from more than 1,500 participants. While recruitment continues, the research team is conducting a variety of studies that utilize biobank samples to investigate risk factors for bipolar disorder and predictors of treatment response.
One of the key approaches is to focus on more rigorously and narrowly defined phenotypes in genetic association studies. The objective is to improve power to detect genetic factors contributing to complex traits by reducing the phenotypic heterogeneity via more precise clinical subtyping, or taking relevant comorbid factors into account, as well as considering interactions of risk factors. Using this approach, the team has demonstrated that variants in the gene TCF7L2 are associated with bipolar disorder with comorbid obesity.
The Mayo Clinic Individualized Medicine Biobank for Bipolar Disorder is also participating in large international collaborative efforts, including the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and the International Consortium on Lithium Genetics.