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Naomi Wray

Professor, University of Oxford, UK and University of Queensland, Australia

Naomi Wray is the Michael Davys Professor Neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry and the Big Data Institute, University of Oxford. She started her appointment in Oxford last year, moving from the  University of Queensland where she still holds a partial appointment.

She plays a leading role in the international psychiatric genomics consortium and the international society of psychiatric genetics.

Important opportunities for polygenic risk scores in psychiatry need in-clinic research

Polygenic risk scores (PGS) are already being evaluated in health care settings for cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. For these diseases the top centile of PGS confer a risk 13-fold and 9-fold, respectively, compared to the first centile. For schizophrenia this ratio is 38-fold, implying there is good reason to consider the translational utility of PGS. The key difference is that for cardiovascular disease and breast cancer there are established screening programs, and identifying people at high risk based on a combination of PGS, family history and lifestyle factors can confer actionable screening strategies in community settings. In contrast, we do not have screening program for schizophrenia within the general population, nor is one desirable. However, in the help-seeking community – those presenting with mental health symptoms-  PGS  could play an important role in contributing to clinical decision making and could help optimise outcomes when evaluated on a group basis. Users of mental health care programs should be afforded the opportunity to benefit from healthcare innovations driven by genomic technologies that are already impacting other branches of medicine.