The impact of neuropsychiatric disorders on the lives of individuals, families, and communities across the globe is enormous, as evidenced by the large numbers of affected persons. For example, Alzheimer disease (AD) is now among the top 10 leading causes of death and is anticipated to effect 11 to 16 million people in the United States and 115.4 million people worldwide by the year 2050 (World Health Organization, 2012). Further, the phenotypes of these disorders challenge current therapies as well as the informal and formal systems of care. Most neuropsychiatric disorders are chronic and require complex pharmacologic regimens associated with negative side effects.
Their high prevalence, along with complex phenotypes, drive an aggressive research agenda aimed at understanding disease etiology in order to identify targets for pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions. Many neuropsychiatric disorders are etiologically complex, suggesting that multiple interacting genomic and environmental factors contribute to their pathogenesis. As such, genomic research is an integral part of the research agenda for neuropsychiatric conditions. The purpose of this article is to review the state of the science regarding the genomic contributions to selected irreversible dementias and major psychiatric disorders, as examples of common neuropsychiatric conditions, and to examine the immediate and future implications for nursing practice and research.