Genes and wellbeing: how are they connected?

Despite numerous research into the genetics of psychiatric disorders, investigations regarding the molecular genetics of wellbeing and resilience and in general healthy functioning using new technologies and methods are still scarce. There is very little known about the genetic factors influencing our wellbeing and resilience. Only a few recent genome wide association studies successfully detected a number of genetic variants influencing wellbeing. However, these variants are only responsible for a very small proportion of wellbeing heritability and much more are still waiting to be discovered.

This project focused on understanding the role of genetics and environment in mental wellbeing and resilience; in particular, the role of genetic and epigenetic factors and how they interact with each other and the environment in predicting mental health.

We have at our disposal an amazing population of 1600 twins with psychological data including mental health and wellbeing questionnaires, including personality questionnaires and a specific composite wellbeing questionnaire developed by the Gatt group called COMPAS‑W. These twins also underwent a genetic analysis using PsychArray and their genotyping data is available. In addition, a portion of these twins have EEG and neuroimaging data (MRI, fMRI, DTI), which will allow us to further investigate the effect of genetic markers on these variables and how they interact to yield the end phenotype. We also accessed data from the UK Biobank to explore these relationships further in larger cohorts.

Team Members

This project was led by PhD student Javad Jamshidi, with his primary joint supervisors being A/​Prof Justine Gatt and A/​Prof Jan Fullerton.

This project is now completed.


Jamshidi J, Park HRP, Montalto A, Fullerton JM, & Gatt JM. (2022). Wellbeing and brain structure: A comprehensive phenotypic and genetic study of image-derived phenotypes in the UK Biobank. Human Brain Mapping, 43(17): 5180 – 5193. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1002​/​h​b​m​.​25993

Jamshidi J, Schofield PR, Fullerton JM*, Gatt JM*. (*equal senior authors). (2022). Phenotypic and genetic analysis of a wellbeing factor score in the UK Biobank and the impact of childhood maltreatment and psychiatric illness. Translational Psychiatry, 12, 113. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1038​/​s​41398-022 – 018745

Jamshidi J, Williams LM, Schofield PR, Park H, Montalto A, Chilver M, Bryant R, Toma C, Fullerton J, Gatt JM. (2020). Diverse phenotypic measurements of wellbeing: Heritability, temporal stability, and the variance explained by polygenic scores. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 19 (8), e12694. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1111​/​g​b​b​.​12694