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Release: July 6, 2000

Siblings with schizophrenia and their families invited to participate in UI study

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Siblings with schizophrenia are invited to participate in a University of Iowa Health Care study on genetic factors associated with the condition. Family members without the condition may also be asked to participate.

Participants must be 18 years or older, have a blood-related brother or sister who also has schizophrenia and be able to give informed consent to participate in the study. Participants will be interviewed, asked to answer a questionnaire and have a small blood sample drawn. Individuals can either participate through at least one visit to the UI Hospitals and Clinics, or participate in a telephone interview and have a local physician draw the blood sample. In most cases, the participation can be completed in one or two sessions.

In addition, the researchers hope to draw blood samples from two well family members, siblings or parents, for each pair of siblings with schizophrenia. Family members can be living in different cities or states, and arrangements can be made for blood samples to be locally drawn.

Compensation will be provided.

The UI is one of nine sites participating in the study, said Donald W. Black, M.D., UI professor of psychiatry and lead investigator for the UI portion of the study. All nine sites, eight in the United States and one in Australia, will send their blood samples to a central testing location, where scientists will use molecular genetic techniques to identify genes or gene regions associated with schizophrenia.

"Schizophrenia can be a devastating illness and affects many people," Black said. "Identifying the gene or genes related to the condition is a priority."

He added that although schizophrenia is not rare, affecting .5 to 1 percent of the population, finding two people with schizophrenia in one family is far less common.

The study is funded in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health.

For more information, call Black at (319) 353-4431 or Janelle Gable, UI research assistant, at (319) 353-4141.


University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.