A collaboration is ongoing with the international ENIGMA consortium, in which the IMAGEMEND PIs lead several working groups, and which has already resulted in a first joint paper in Nature (Hibar et al., 2015):


An international study, which included many researchers from IMAGEMEND, has identified several new genes that influence the size of our brain. Prof. Barbara Franke from Radboudumc in Nijmegen, work package leader in IMAGEMEND, is one of the senior authors of the paper, which appeared in Nature on January 22 2015, and in which 193 different institutes from around the world took part.


The published study is unique, as brain scans of over 30.000 participants were analysed. ‘We have identified genetic factors that help us to better understand the differences in brain development that exist between people’ says Franke, who is a co-founder of the ENIGMA Consortium (www.enigma.ini.usc.edu), the initiator of the published study. ‘We founded ENIGMA in 2009, with the idea of creating an environment, in which researchers across the entire world could easily work together on the genetics of brain structure. This worked excellently, as we use a ‘crowd-sourcing’ approach, in which we develop protocols for analysis centrally, and then send them out to all participating groups, which thus can perform their analysis themselves. So rather than collecting original data from the participating groups, we only ask them to send us their results, which we subsequently combine. In this way, all groups can stay closely involved in a project’.


The ENIGMA studies can be expected to provide more insight into the causes and mechanisms underlying different brain disorders. ENIGMA is currently comparing their results to those of genetics research of brain disorders. In this way, data of more than 70.000 research participants is being studied. Results of this research can be expected later this year.