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Release: March 7, 2002

NOTE TO EDITORS: This call for participants in a University of Iowa study was originally distributed Oct. 11, 2000. The study continues to seek participants. For individuals living in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, the UI is the closest participating institution.

Families affected by schizophrenia invited to participate in University of Iowa study

People who have either two children or two siblings with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder are invited to participate in a University of Iowa Health Care study on genetic factors associated with the condition. The two family members with the condition and one additional well family member will also be asked to participate.

All participants, who have schizophrenia or do not have the condition, must be 18 years or older and be able to give informed consent to participate in the study. People who have schizoaffective disorder are also eligible to participate.

Family members can be living in different cities or states and still participate in the study. Travel to Iowa City is not required. 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. Compensation will be provided.

Researchers hope to draw blood samples from two well family members, siblings or parents, for each pair of siblings with schizophrenia, said Donald W. Black, M.D., UI professor of psychiatry and lead investigator for the UI portion of the study.

For individuals living in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, the UI is the closest institution participating in the study. The UI is one of nine sites that 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 Institute of Mental Health.

For more information, call Nancy Hale, UI research assistant, at (319) 335-9238, or toll-free at (877)-384-8999 and ask to be connected to 335-9238.

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.