Health and the environment is one of the foundational topics in our lab. With expertise in spatial analytics, data analysis, and the social determinants of health, our lab takes an ecosocial approach to understanding the interrelationships between health outcomes, and environmental and social factors.
Our current work contributes to the Spit for Science project with the Schachar & Crosbie Lab at the Sick Kids Research Institute. The Spit for Science projects aim to understand the genetics of psychiatric disorders by collecting quantitative data from a youth population aged 6-17 years old, in addition to non-invasive collection of DNA saliva samples with Oragene•DNA. One of the most exciting findings from the foundational Spit for Science I was identifying the first genome-wide loci for OCD traits using a genome-wide association study (GWAS).
Spit for Science was such resounding success that Spit for Science II was funded in 2018 by CIHR Expanding on the initial project, Spit for Science II involves recruiting an additional 30,000 participants at the Ontario Science Center. Additional measures, new strategies for looking at environmental exposures, and the potential to re-contact participants will be introduced. We have also received $100,000 for a CIHR project titled Healthy Cities, Healthy Minds. Genetic and Urban Environmental Influences on Childhood Mental Health.
Our research team also received an Innovation Challenges Grant from DNA Genotek for the project titled: Rapid Recruitment for Large-Scale Gene by Environment Analyses in Pediatric Mental Health. This project focuses on large-scale gene x environment studies to help identify genetic and environmental risk factors in children for psychiatric disorders.