Assessing Genomic and Environmental Drivers of Depression in Training Physicians across China and the US

JI Program: Exploratory

Drs. Lu and Sun have produced a parallel sample of training physicians in China, identifying parallel problems of stress and depression among young physicians there. Here, we propose to recruit a sample of up to 1,000 last year medical students before they enter their first year of residency (as there is no internship year in China), hence at the same time point as US interns. Prior and continuing work in the US of Dr. Sen will continue and be relevant for comparison. Existing work of Drs. Lu and Sen on medical students will be highly relevant, as many of these medical students will now enter residency and are already in contact with the study. The overall objective of our research is to define contributing factors to stress-associated depression. These factors can be personal experience (childhood adversity, previous depression episodes, personal maturation during natural aging), temperamental (neuroticism score, sleep patterns and needs), genetic factors as well as situational environmental (policies governing internship structure, political events). Genetic factors in turn may affect experience and temperament. Comparing the first year of residency in China with the internship year in the US, our objective is to find both individual and internship similarities and differences. Our research will help better understand the interplay of genetic differences with environmental factors governing medical residency. This better understanding can lead to structural changes to ultimately improve the residency experience.