Strategies for Advancing Disease Definition Using Biomarkers and Genetics: The Bipolar and Schizophrenia Network for Intermediate Phenotypes

Carol A. Tamminga, Godfrey D. Pearlson, Ana D. Stan, Robert D. Gibbons, Jaya Padmanabhan, Matcheri Keshavan, Brett A. Clementz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


It is critical for psychiatry as a field to develop approaches to define the molecular, cellular, and circuit basis of its brain diseases, especially for serious mental illnesses, and then to use these definitions to generate biologically based disease categories, as well as to explore disease mechanisms and illness etiologies. Our current reliance on phenomenology is inadequate to support exploration of molecular treatment targets and disease formulations, and the leap directly from phenomenology to disease biology has been limiting because of broad heterogeneity within conventional diagnoses. The questions addressed in this review are formulated around how we can use brain biomarkers to achieve disease categories that are biologically based. We have grouped together a series of vignettes as examples of early approaches, all using the Bipolar and Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes (BSNIP) biomarker database and collaborators, starting off with describing the foundational statistical methods for these goals. We use primarily criterion-free statistics to identify pertinent groups of involved genes related to psychosis as well as symptoms, and finally, to create new biologically based disease cohorts within the psychopathological dimension of psychosis. Although we do not put these results forward as final formulations, they represent a novel effort to rely minimally on phenomenology as a diagnostic tool and to fully embrace brain characteristics of structure, as well as molecular and cellular characteristics and function, to support disease definition in psychosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
StateAccepted/In press - Feb 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarker battery
  • Biomarker strategy
  • Brain biomarker
  • Disease categories
  • Disease definition
  • Psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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