Henriette Nørmølle Buttenschøn – Molecular Genetics

The focus of our research is to identify genetic risk factors and biomarkers for psychiatric disorders. Our research is concentrated on human studies with a special focus on depression.

Research Focus

Most psychiatric disorders are moderately to highly heritable; however, the underlying genetic architecture is very complex and polygenic. In collaboration with external research groups, we aim to identify genes and genetic variants that confer increased risk against disease development.

The identification of peripheral biomarkers for psychiatric disorders is of great clinical relevance and has the potential to improve diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. In clinically well-described samples we:

  • Study potential biomarkers associated with psychiatric disorders
  • Study potential biomarkers as predictors for antidepressant response
  • Investigate the metabolomic profile in depressed individuals
  • Investigate changes in microRNA (miRNA) expression in individuals with depression compared to controls, and during antidepressant treatment

Aim

The unifying aim of our research activities is to increase the existing knowledge of the biological disease mechanisms of common mental disorders.

Increased insights into the genetic architecture may reveal parts of the underlying aetiology and hopefully in the future improve treatment and prevention of these disabling disorders.

Our goal is also to identify biomarkers for depression and other psychiatric disorders by investigating serum levels of different proteins, metabolites and miRNA's. The identification of biomarkers will aid both in the diagnosis and in the development of effective psychiatric medication.

Main Research Methods

The fundamental basis for our research is the human research biobank located at TNU comprising DNA, serum, and plasma samples, among others.

  • Genetic analyses (DNA extraction, genotyping, association analyses)
  • Biomarker analyses (immunoassay, miRNA expression)
  • Metabolomic profiling (OrbiTrap Mass spec.)
  • Bioinformatics
  • Statistical analyses

Available projects

We offer Bachelor, Master, or Research Year projects within all aspects of our research focus. The projects are particularly relevant for students with a background in molecular biology, molecular medicine, or medicine with interest in bioinformatics and statistical analyses. Most of our projects are in collaboration with international research groups, external groups in Aarhus or Copenhagen, or within our unit.

Please contact Henriette Nørmølle Buttenschøn for further information (hnbt@clin.au.dk).