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Richmond, VA, United States

Virginia Commonwealth University is a public research university located in Richmond, Virginia. VCU was founded in 1838 as the medical department of Hampden–Sydney College, becoming the Medical College of Virginia in 1854. In 1968, the Virginia General Assembly merged MCV with the Richmond Professional Institute, founded in 1917, to create Virginia Commonwealth University. Today, more than 31,000 students pursue 222 degree and certificate programs through VCU's 13 schools and one college. The VCU Health System supports the university's health care education, research and patient care mission.With a record $256 million in sponsored research funding in the fiscal year 2011, VCU is designated as a research university with very high research activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. A broad array of university-approved centers and institutes of excellence, involving faculty from multiple disciplines in public policy, biotechnology and health care discoveries, supports the university's research mission. Twenty-eight graduate and first-professional programs are ranked by U.S. News and World Report as among the best in the country. VCU's athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the VCU Rams. They are members of the Atlantic 10 Conference. The VCU campus includes historic buildings such as the Ginter House, now used by the school's provost. Wikipedia.

Dick D.M.,Virginia Commonwealth University
Annual Review of Clinical Psychology | Year: 2011

There has been an explosion of interest in studying gene-environment interactions (GxE) as they relate to the development of psychopathology. In this article, I review different methodologies to study gene-environment interaction, providing an overview of methods from animal and human studies and illustrations of gene-environment interactions detected using these various methodologies. Gene-environment interaction studies that examine genetic influences as modeled latently (e.g., from family, twin, and adoption studies) are covered, as well as studies of measured genotypes. Importantly, the explosion of interest in gene-environment interactions has raised a number of challenges, including difficulties with differentiating various types of interactions, power, and the scaling of environmental measures, which have profound implications for detecting gene-environment interactions. Taking research on gene-environment interactions to the next level will necessitate close collaborations between psychologists and geneticists so that each field can take advantage of the knowledge base of the other. Copyright © 2011 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

Kendler K.S.,Virginia Commonwealth University
Molecular Psychiatry | Year: 2013

Psychiatric genetics has taught us a great deal about the nature of psychiatric disorders. Traditional family, twin and adoption studies have demonstrated the substantial role of genetic factors in their etiology, clarified the role of genetic factors in comorbidity, elucidated development pathways, and documented the importance of gene-environment correlation and interaction. We have also received some hard lessons when we were unable to detect replicable genes of large effect size and found that our much-valued candidate genes did not live up to their expected promise. With more mature molecular and statistical methods, we are entering now a different era. Statistical analyses of aggregate molecular signals are validating earlier heritability estimates. Replicated findings from genome-wide association studies are beginning to emerge, as are discoveries of large-effect size rare genomic variants. The number of such findings is likely to soon grow dramatically. The most pressing question facing the field is what biological picture these results will reveal. I articulate four possible scenarios that reflect (i) no, (ii) minimal, (iii) moderate and (iv) high biological coherence in the replicated molecular variant findings, which are soon likely to emerge. I discuss the factors that will likely influence these patterns, including the problems of etiological heterogeneity and multiple realizability. These findings could provide critical insights into the underlying biology of our psychiatric syndromes and potentially permit us to perceive, 'through a glass darkly,' the levels of the mind-brain system that are disordered. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.

The soft medical model for psychiatric illness, which was operationalized in DSM-III, defines psychiatric disorders as syndromes with shared symptoms, signs, course of illness and response to treatment. Many in our field want to move to a hard medical model based on etiological mechanisms. This essay explores the feasibility of this move and asks whether psychiatric disorders have the needed single clear level of explanation for an etiologically based nosology. I propose seven criteria for a good explanation: (i) strength, (ii) causal confidence, (iii) generalizability, (iv) specificity, (v) manipulability, (vi) proximity and (vii) generativity. Applying them to cystic fibrosis, a gene-level approach to etiology performs well across the board. By contrast, a detailed review of alcohol dependence and a briefer review of major depression suggests that psychiatric disorders have multiple explanatory perspectives no one of which can be privileged over others using scientific data alone. Therefore, a move toward an etiologically based diagnostic system cannot assume that one level of explanation will stand out as the obvious candidate on which to base the nosology. This leaves two options. Either a hard medical model will be implemented that will require a consensus about a preferred level of explanation which must reflect value judgments as well as science. To take this approach, we need to agree on what we most want from our explanations. Alternatively, we will need to move away from the traditional hard medical model that requires that we ground our diagnoses in single biological essences, and focus instead on fuzzy, cross-level mechanisms, which may more realistically capture the true nature of psychiatric disorders. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.

Jena P.,Virginia Commonwealth University
Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters | Year: 2013

Atomic clusters composed of homo or heteroatomic species constitute an intermediate phase of matter where every atom counts and whose properties depend on their size, shape, composition, and charge. If specific clusters mimicking the chemistry of atoms can be produced, they can be thought of as man-made superatoms forming the building blocks of a new three-dimensional periodic table. Novel materials with tailored properties can then be synthesized by assembling these superatoms. This invited Perspective presents a brief summary of the pioneering works that led to this concept, and highlights the recent breakthroughs that hold promise for a new era in materials science. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

Jena P.,Virginia Commonwealth University
Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters | Year: 2011

With a growing world population, an increasing standard of living in many developing countries, a limited supply of fossil fuels, and its adverse effect on the environment, the need for clean and sustainable energy has never been greater. Hydrogen, the simplest and most abundant element in the universe, has the potential to meet this energy need if numerous hurdles in its efficient and safe production, storage, and use in fuel cell vehicles can be overcome. This Perspective briefly discusses the status of hydrogen storage - past, present, and future. © 2011 American Chemical Society.

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