What causes major depression?


  • Prof Jonathan Flint

    University of California, Los Angeles

  • Prof Kenneth Kendler

    Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Prof Jonathan Marchini

    University of Oxford

  • Prof Richard Mott

    University of Oxford

  • Prof Weidong Li

    Shanghai Jiao Tong University

  • Dr Qibin Li

    Beijing Genomics Institute

  • Prof Yue Weihua

    Peking University

  • Prof Lin He

    Shanghai Jiao Tong University

  • Prof Xiaoying Zheng

    Peking University

Project summary

The objective of this proposal is to discover what causes depression using genetic information. We emphasise that because of the intertwined nature of genetics and environment in the causation of depression, obtaining information about the genetic roots of the illness allows us to investigate its environmental aetiology. Success requires the collection of a suitably characterised large sample.

We will interrogate subjects about all known and putative risk factors. Our primary aim is to collect 24,000 cases of recurrent major depression and 24,000 screened controls using a collection strategy that maximises clinical severity and homogeneity. Together with our existing sample of 12,000, the total sample will be 60,000, which is sufficient to identify at least 30 genetic risk loci.

Our findings will transform our understanding of the origins and nature of major depression and provide a starting point for improvements in mental health care.