The field of psychiatric genetics has seen transformative progress over the past decade. It has emerged as a leading frontier in human genetics, with a robust tradition of genetic epidemiology, the successful identification of hundreds of genomic loci associated with a broad spectrum of psychiatric disorders, and a growing understanding of the genetic architecture of some of the most challenging and impactful phenotypes in all of biomedicine. This progress has been due in large part to the extraordinarily collaborative efforts of scientists and trainees across the world. As the pre-eminent society devoted to advancing science, collaboration, education, and career development in psychiatric genetics, the ISPG has been a hub of this collaborative enterprise. For more than two decades, our annual conference, the World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics, has been the leading venue for convening and showcasing the best work that our field has produced. As President of the ISPG, I will be honored to lead this extraordinary society into a new decade of discovery and collaboration, while maintaining its financial health and scientific vibrancy.
To capitalize on the opportunities and meet the challenges that lie ahead of us, we must begin with a planning effort that will engage the ISPG’s diverse stakeholders and deep expertise to set strategic priorities for the coming years and develop a roadmap for achieving our strategic goals. Among these, I believe we must prioritize the following four areas in order to keep our society growing and thriving:
First, we must create a more compelling value proposition to attract and retain members. This could include providing additional educational and training opportunities for young investigators and providing new services for members such as webinars and other offerings throughout the year.
Second, at a time when diversity, inclusion and equity have become urgent priorities for the scientific community and our world, ISPG must be intentional about strengthening our commitment to these priorities and taking action to address them. We must create a more welcoming environment to attract members from diverse backgrounds; we must expand our investments in engaging more scientists from BIPOC communities and those in resource-limited countries; we must increase efforts to support and showcase the work of under-represented communities at our annual meeting; and we must be a leading voice for increasing the diversity of genetic studies.
Third, we need to generate and implement creative solutions to balance our financial needs with the need to make conference and membership fees more affordable.
Fourth, and not least, we need to take every opportunity to enhance the excellence and relevance of our science. This means a renewed commitment to elevating the scientific rigor of our annual meeting and our field. We can also advance the science of psychiatric genetics in areas that will be increasingly impactful in the coming years–including functional genomics, genome-guided therapeutic development, and clinical applications of precision and genomic medicine.
The ISPG has become an indispensable resource for the field of psychiatric genetics, and I am confident that we can strengthen our efforts to support collaboration, education, training, and discovery in the years ahead.
Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD