Nick Martin and the Genetics of Depression: Sample Size, Sample Size, Sample Size.
Byrne EM., Henders AK., Hickie IB., Middeldorp CM., Wray NR.
Nick Martin is a pioneer in recognizing the need for large sample size to study the complex, heterogeneous and polygenic disorders of common mental disorders. In the predigital era, questionnaires were mailed to thousands of twin pairs around Australia. Always quick to adopt new technology, Nick's studies progressed to phone interviews and then online. Moreover, Nick was early to recognize the value of collecting DNA samples. As genotyping technologies improved over the years, these twin and family cohorts were used for linkage, candidate gene and genome-wide association studies. These cohorts have underpinned many analyses to disentangle the complex web of genetic and lifestyle factors associated with mental health. With characteristic foresight, Nick is chief investigator of our Australian Genetics of Depression Study, which has recruited 16,000 people with self-reported depression (plus DNA samples) over a time frame of a few months - analyses are currently ongoing. The mantra of sample size, sample size, sample size has guided Nick's research over the last 30 years and continues to do so.