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Background and History

History of the NIMH Repository and Genomics Resource

In 1988, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) established the NIMH Center for Collaborative Genomic Studies on Mental Disorders (CGSMD) through the NIMH Human Genetics Initiative (NIMH-HGI), to leverage and increase the value of human genetic samples and data produced through NIMH funded research. The NIMH Center, now known as NIMH Repository and Genomics Resource (NIMH-RGR or NRGR or the NIMH Repository) plays a key role in facilitating psychiatric genetic research by providing a collection of over 200,000 well characterized, high quality patient and control samples from a wide-range of psychiatric illnesses.

The NIMH began its sharing initiative in 1990 with studies of Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Alzheimer’s disease, adding other major disorders such as Autism, Depression, and Tourette Disorder over the years. The Repository has grown to include over 200 studies organized into over twenty primarily disease based collections. It has become clear that increasing the cohort size of subjects with a neuropsychiatric disorder is a key factor in GWAS success and the discovery of rare de novo variants. The NIMH policy of regulated but relatively unfettered data and biospecimen sharing has allowed for larger cohorts studies, greatly facilitating gene discovery. Work supported by the repository has resulted in over 800 publications with over 70,000 citations.

While the Repository initially focused on creating immortalized lymphoblastoid cell lines to provide a renewable source of DNA for genetic studies, the services offered have grown over the years. The Repository now offers a full range of DNA and RNA extraction and analytic services, and the cell services have expanded to include the NIMH Stem Cell Resource, which provides banking and validation of reprogrammed cells (e.g., iPSCs) and source cells (e.g., fibroblasts) derived from postnatal-to-adult human patients and controls.