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The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Center for Precision Psychiatry & Mental Health at Columbia University seeks to catalyze the scientific innovation and clinical implementation of precision medicine to advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. The collaboration between Columbia and SNF arose from a joint vision for helping to reduce the individual and societal toll of mental illness and to combat social inequality, stigma, and discrimination in mental health care.

The SNF Center is a joint effort of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Columbia’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. It will be embedded within Columbia University’s unique ecosystem of research and clinical services and will draw upon expertise from the Columbia-affiliated New York Genome Center and the New York State Office of Mental Health.

The increasing sophistication of precision medicine is allowing scientists and health care providers to integrate each person’s unique genomic, physiologic, and health profiles to create optimized prevention and treatment strategies. Columbia University has been at the forefront of recent efforts to map the genetic and biological changes that cause many major mental illnesses.

The SNF Center for Precision Psychiatry & Mental Health will build upon and expand this knowledge by accumulating massive datasets of genomic sequences and medical records. At the same time, by harnessing interdisciplinary expertise from biologists to clinicians, the center will enable the development of new therapies. Moreover, by driving innovation in mental health research and sharing advances as widely as possible, Columbia and SNF will work to help ensure that improved treatments are equally available to everyone.

The significant progress we have made in caring for our physical health in recent decades is apparent, but just as clear is the fact that we have left behind our mental health,” said SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos. “All of us at SNF are proud to support the doctors, scientists, and mental health professionals at Columbia in bringing together deep expertise with an equally deep sense of humanity to address one of the most critical issues of our time.”

The SNF Center will be co-directed by Sander Markx, Steven A. Kushner, and Joseph Gogos, who together conveyed their collective vision for the center: “With this extraordinary support from SNF, we are poised to build on the accelerating progress in psychiatric genomics, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and stem cell biology to revolutionize the treatment of mental illness. Through this new understanding, we are fundamentally committed to helping combat stigma and discrimination against people living with mental illness and realizing improved mental health care for all.”

A glimpse of what that improved care might look like was captured in a Washington Post article highlighting the immense promise of the new SNF Center through the inspiring stories of two patients who were able to reclaim their lives following treatment.

Read a Q&A with Dr. Joseph Gogos that explores what the new SNF Center could mean for the future of mental health care.

See the Scientific Advisory Council Members of SNF Precision Psychiatry and Mental Health here