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Rethinking psychiatry with OMICS science in the age of personalized P5 medicine: ready for psychiatome?

Nicola Luigi Bragazzi

Author Affiliations

Department of Health Sciences (DISSAL), School of Public Health, University of Genoa, Via Pastore 1, 16132, Genoa, Italy

DINOGMI, Department of Neuroscience, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics, Maternal and Child Health, Section of Psychiatry, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy

Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 2013, 8:4  doi:10.1186/1747-5341-8-4

Published: 12 July 2013


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is universally acknowledged as the prominent reference textbook for the diagnosis and assessment of psychiatric diseases. However, since the publication of its first version in 1952, controversies have been raised concerning its reliability and validity and the need for other novel clinical tools has emerged. Currently the DSM is in its fourth edition and a new fifth edition is expected for release in 2013, in an intense intellectual debate and in a call for new proposals.

Since 1952, psychiatry has undergone many changes and is emerging as unique field in the medical area in which a novel approach is being demanded for properly treating patients: not the classical “one-size-fits-all” approach, but a more targeted and tailored diagnosis and therapeutics, taking into account the complex interactions among genes and their products, environment, culture and the psychological apparatus of the subject.

OMICS sciences, being based on high-throughput technologies, are systems biology related fields (like genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics and so on). In the frame of the P5 medicine (personalized, participatory, predictive, preventive, psycho-cognitive), they could establish links between psychiatric diseases, which are disorders with a final common symptomatology with vastly heterogeneous biological, environmental and sociological underpinnings, and by understanding the psychiatric diseases beyond their classic symptomatic or syndromal definitions using OMICS research, one can have a broader picture and unprecedented links and reclassification of psychiatric nosology. Importantly, by understanding the basis of heterogeneity in diseases through OMICS research, one could also personalize treatment of psychiatric illnesses.

In this manuscript, we discuss a gap in the current psychiatric research, namely the missing logical link among OMICS, personalized medicine and reclassification of diseases. Moreover, we explore the importance of incorporating OMICS-based quantitative dimensional criteria, besides the classical qualitative and categorical approach.

Biological psychiatry; Systems biology; Network medicine; Bioinformatics; New psychiatry; Personalized medicine; DSM-V; OMICS