Bipolar Disorder and Genetics: What Caregivers Need to Know

Date Posted

October 11, 2023


FFDA Staff

Watch our interview about bipolar disorder and genetics.

Health conditions – including mental health conditions – tend to run in families. But how much do our genes determine our mental health? How does knowing about genetics help caregivers? To learn more about the relationship between bipolar disorder and genetics, so we are bringing in an expert to explain.

Watch our expert interview with Dr. Benjamin Neale

Join us on Facebook at 12:00 noon ET/9:00 am PT on Thursday, November 16, 2023, as we talk with Benjamin Neale, PhD, about bipolar disorder and genetics. Our live interview will explore what caregivers need to know about how bipolar disorder occurs in families, the role of genetics in bipolar disorder, and what signs are important, especially in young adults. We’ll also ask about Dr. Neale’s research and how it will help families affected by bipolar disorder. Your questions and comments are welcome!

Bipolar disorder is generally attributable to a variety of factors. Genetics is thought to be a strong factor in the risk of developing bipolar disorder, but there is no single gene that determines whether a person will have bipolar disorder. Notably, a person’s environment – including the circumstances in which they live and work – and their ability to use skills such as stress management techniques also play a role.

Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, working in collaboration with others around the world, published results from a study* about genetics and bipolar disorder in 2022. Those researchers identified a gene, referred to as AKAP11, that indicates a strong risk for developing bipolar disorder. Dr. Neale is one of the study’s co-authors.

Free brochures on adult bipolar disorder

As a bonus for attendees, we’ll be sending our “Adult Bipolar Disorder: Stories of Families and Hope” brochure to anyone who completes our post-interview survey (while supplies last). If you are associated with a group or organization and would like to receive 10 or more copies for distribution, please contact us at

Our expert: Benjamin Neale, PhD Benjamin Neale, PhD, shares insights on bipolar disorder and genetics with FFDA.

Dr. Benjamin Neale is co-director of the Program in Medical and Population Genetics at the Broad Institute and is Director of Genetics at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. He is an associate professor in the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit (ATGU) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where he directs the Genomics of Public Health Initiative. He is also an associate professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Neale is strongly committed to understanding the genetic influences on psychiatric illness and how to translate those into insights into the biological basis of these diseases.

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* Palmer, D.S., et al., “Exome sequencing in bipolar disorder identifies AKAP11 as a risk gene shared with schizophrenia,” Nature Genetics 54, 541-547 (2022) (abstract found at