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Published on January 27, 2015

Avera Scientist is Co-author in World’s Leading Science Journal

Gareth Davies, MDGareth Davies, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and Scientific Director at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics, was listed as a co-author in Nature, the international weekly journal of science and world’s most-cited scientific journal.

Dr. Davies was among of group of scientists who contributed to the article titled “Common Genetic Variants Influence Human Subcortical Brain Structures” in the Jan. 21 edition of Nature.

This study helps researchers understand how genetic variations influence the structure and development of the brain, and also possible dysfunction of the brain seen in the form of behavioral health conditions, such as schizophrenia.

“Genetics, and its interplay with the development of disease, is a rapidly growing field of research, and one we’re involved with locally at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics,” said Dr. Davies. “The results of this study were only possible through extensive collaboration.”

Researchers focused on seven sub-cortical regions of the brain, which are associated with memory, movement, learning and motivation.  Alterations in these regions can lead to abnormal behavior and disease, so identifying these genetic variants may help to determine why such dysfunction occurs.

“Dr. Davies’ participation in this study is a reflection of Avera’s efforts to develop patient-outcome-focused discoveries in human genetics,” said Ryan Hansen, Executive Director of the Avera Institute for Human Genetics. “We’re excited to be involved in this emerging science, as part of several national and international collaborations, including the world’s largest twin study.”

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