Avera Medical Minute: Behavioral Genetics - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute: Behavioral Genetics

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Dr. Gareth Davies, Director of Scientific Operations at the Avera Institute for Human Behavioral Genetics. Dr. Gareth Davies, Director of Scientific Operations at the Avera Institute for Human Behavioral Genetics.

There is research going on right here is Sioux Falls to identify the genes in children that can lead to behavioral disorders, that means attention deficit, depression, even eating disorders could one day be a thing of the past. As part of our coverage on the 10th Anniversary of the Avera Research Institute in Sioux Falls, we are focusing on the fascinating work being done at the Avera Institute for Human Behavioral Genetics.

It's estimated 3-5% of the children in this country have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Two million children have a hard time controlling their behavior and/or pay attention. To put that into perspective, in a classroom with 25 to 30 children, at least one of them of will have ADHD. It can be hard on the child and it can definitely be hard for those around them.

Dr. Gareth Davies is the Director of Scientific Operations at the Avera Institute for Human Behavioral Genetics. The lab is housed inside the Avera Behavioral Health Center and features cutting edge state of the art equipment with some of the world's best minds running it. Through a simple saliva sample, the scientists can extract DNA and analyze every single gene.

Dr. Davies, "What we do is use our genetic knowledge to study the risk of individuals particularly children developing behavioral disorders such as ADHD we know certain genes predispose you to a higher risk of developing one of these disorders. However, we know genes are involved but your environment is too. What we do is study genes we know make you more susceptible and hopefully identify the children and families early enough so we can intervene and maybe alter that environment or help that environment so we don't get that interaction between the genes and the environment to trigger one of those diseases."

By environment Dr. Davies means your surroundings. Children are greatly affected by what happens at home and from very early on. If they aren't emotionally and intellectually nurtured, it can lead to a number of behavioral diseases and a lifetime of issues.

Dr. Davies says, "The burden of behavioral disorders is very very heavy and great on the family especially in this state. Adolescent suicide is very high. We want to identify the people who are more susceptible and then intervene. "

Potentially world changing work done right here in our backyard through Avera's vision. Imagine the possibilities.

Avera's Behavioral Genetics Lab was built just 3 years ago and already Dr. Davies started presenting his research at national and international conferences. He hopes to start publicizing his data very soon.

 

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