Today, some patients are as apt to arrive in the clinic with genetic test results from 23andMe or a pharmacogenomic testing company as they are a symptom list. Consequently, mental health providers may quickly find themselves in uncharted and uncomfortable terrain, not quite sure of the role genetics is ready to play in modern-day psychiatry.

Dr. Nurnberger will brief providers on the current clinical relevance of psychiatric genetics during his “What Should a Psychiatrist Know About Genetics?” talk at Psych Congress. A distinguished professor of psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Dr. Nurnberger has remained involved in psychiatric genetics research throughout his career. For the past several years, he’s chaired an International Society of Psychiatric Genetics (ISPG) committee tasked with bridging the gap between psychiatric genetics evidence and its role in everyday psychiatric practice.

Just as important, Dr. Nurnberger will review situations in which genetic testing is not yet useful in guiding current clinical treatment—such as with adult-onset schizophrenia or bipolar disorder—despite claims supporting the use of direct-to-consumer genetic testing.

“You can imagine how a patient would respond after reading something in the newspaper or seeing something on TV. Then they receive a genetic test result, and they’re ready to go with a new plan of management and treatment,” he said. “You have to caution people not to get carried away. In the majority of cases, the information is incomplete or just not substantiated by the genetic literature.”

In addition to addressing the here and now, Dr. Nurnberger will provide session attendees with a glimpse into the future. His presentation will address how polygenic risk scores, which are currently used in research, as well as DNA sequencing, may one day be used in clinical practice.