Scientists to study the possible impact of moving to the Arctic on mental health
© RIA Novosti. Mikhail Beznosov

Scientists to study the possible impact of moving to the Arctic on mental health

Novosibirsk State University plans to open a laboratory to study biomarkers and people's social behavior. The lab will research the impact of an individual's genotype and place of residence on mental health, the university's press service reports.

"There is international evidence that the presence of certain genes may increase the risk of depression. However, as we found out, the effect of these genes on human behavior strongly depends on where a person lives. For example, some effects are the exact opposite for Tuvans and Russians. The same genotype is responsible for increasing anxiety in Russians and suppressing the same emotion in Tuvans," said Alexander Savostyanov, head of the soon-to-be-opened lab.

The project will involve scientists from the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, the International Tomographic Center in Novosibirsk and Tuvan State University. The North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, the Altai State Academy of Education, Khovd State University in Mongolia and the Institute of Statistical Science of Academia Sinica in Taiwan will also take part in the research.

"Yakutia was chosen because the Russian government announced a federal program to explore the Arctic. The program envisages conducting medical research in the Arctic region. There are plans in the near future to develop the Northern Sea Route, extract minerals, and deploy a military group in the Arctic. Several million people may move to the Arctic. Studying risk factors for people's health in Russia's northernmost region is a necessity. We must learn to predict what could happen to people after they settle in the Arctic," Mr. Savostyanov added.

Researchers will take samples of biological materials from groups of people living in different environments, mainly in Siberia, to study their genotype characteristics. They will also examine the mental health and psychophysiology of these people.

It is planned to include the project in the Arctic federal targeted program.