The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: J. John Mann

Neuroscience Minisymposium

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Developmental and stress related neurobiological correlates of suicidal behavior

J. John Mann
Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, USA

Suicide has a genetic component related to both the psychiatric disorder generating suicidal ideation and the diathesis for suicidal behavior.
Evidence for such a genetic contribution comes from family, twin and adoption studies. At the same time there is evidence for non-genetic factors influencing the probability of developing mood disorders and manifesting suicidal behavior in adulthood. The latter may involve greater impulsiveness.
There are also gene environment interactions. Examples of such effects and interplay will be given from studies of candidate genes. For example, the monoamine oxidase A gene protects from the effects of early trauma on the development of aggressive impulsive behaviors in adulthood. Low expression of the gene is associated with a higher rate of such traumatic experiences.
The neurobiological manifestations of genetic and stress related effects involving the serotonin and norepinephrine systems will be presented.

The research of Dr. John Mann employs functional brain imaging, neurochemistry and molecular genetics to probe the causes of depression and suicide. He is head of the NIMH-funded Conte Center for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders at the Columbia University, director of the Stanley Center for the Applied Neuroscience of Bipolar Disorders, and President of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He has published 327 papers and edited 10 books on the subjects of suicide and psychiatric disorders.