A little bit of spit can help us make a healthier world!

Your genes and the environment around you help to shape your physical and mental well-being.

Spit for Science 2

From June 2019-September 2021, we will be inviting 30,000 children and adolescents visiting the Ontario Science Centre (OSC) to become Junior Scientists as part of research project called Spit for Science.

We will ask our Junior Scientists and their parents to complete questionnaires about behaviour (the way you act), play a computer game to understand cognition (the way you think), as well as physical health and well-being. Using postal codes, we can estimate many different aspects of your environment (e.g., how close you live to green space or exposure to air pollution). Finally, we will ask our Junior Scientists to spit in a small tube so that we can collect DNA.

We can discover how your genes work with the environment to impact your mental and physical health. Our aim is to recruit a sample of 30,000 children and adolescents from the community to further the understanding the etiology of childhood mental and physical health. In genetic research, size matters!

This study is a continuation of Spit for Science 1 that ran at the Ontario Science Centre in 2008-2009. Spit for Science 2 will expand on Spit for Science 1 in four important ways, by:

  1. Recruiting 30,000 new participants;

  2. Adding new measures of behaviour (social communication and affect-regulation) and cognition (error detection and sustained attention);

  3. Estimating environmental risks using geospatial mapping of postal codes;

  4. Accessing health data via IC/ES; and

  5. Exploring gene X environment interactions across aspects of mental and physical health.

Spit for Science - What you will get to do if you participate!

Interested in participating?
Visit us at the Ontario Science Centre!

You can participate in Spit for Science if you:

Have questions?

For more information, please contact:
Avalon Henry,
Clinical Research Project Manager

Phone: 416-813-7462
Email: avalon.henry@sickkids.ca

Principal Investigator & Co-Investigators:

Jennifer Crosbie, PhD (PI)

Russell Schachar, MD (Co-I)

Paul Arnold, MD, PhD (Co-I; University of Calgary)

Christie Burton, PhD (Co-I)

Primary Collaborators:

Paul Peters, PhD (Carleton University)

Lisa Strug, PhD (SickKids)

Andrew Paterson, MD (SickKids)

Stephen Scherer, PhD (SickKids)

Anna Goldenberg, PhD (SickKids)

Jacob Vorstman, MD, PhD (SickKids)

In light of current events, Spit for Science has paused all activities at the Ontario Science Centre.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Spit for Science 1

In Spit for Science 1, which ran at the OSC for 16 months between 2008-2009, we collected DNA, mental health information, behavioural and cognitive trait (response inhibition) measures in >17,000 youth. A large subset of the sample has currently has genome-wide microarray data.

Highlights of our results from Spit for Science 1 include:

  1. The first replicated genome-wide significant risk loci for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) traits (Burton et al. in prep)

  2. The first study of copy number variants (CNVs) associated with mental health and cognitive traits in the general pediatric population (Zarrei et al., in prep)

  3. Developed and validated a new measure for obsessive-compulsive traits (Park et al., 2016; Burton et al., 2018)

  4. Demonstrated that genetic risk for clinically diagnosed ADHD are associated with ADHD traits measured in the community (Burton et al., 2018)

  5. Mapped the development of response inhibition and error processing across development (Crosbie et al., 2013; Dupuis et al., 2018)

  6. Established the heritability of several mental health traits in the general population (Crosbie et al., 2013; Burton et al. 2018)

Data Access & Collaboration

To access data from Spit for Science 1, contact Christie Burton. Data will soon be available through The Hospital for Sick Children Healthy Kids Biobank. Spit for Science samples are screened for medical and psychiatric conditions and have been used several times as healthy controls for genetic analyses.

Spit for Science Mobile App – Privacy Policy

Publications from
Spit for Science 1

  1. Sinopoli, V., Erdman, L., Burton, C.L., Easter, P., Rajendram, R., Baldwin, G., Peterman, K., Coste, J., Shaheen, S-M, Hanna, G.L., Rosenberg, D.R. & Arnold, P.D. Serotonin system gene variants and CSTC brain volume differences in pediatric OCD. Brain Imaging and Behavior. *In press
  2. Burton, C.L., Wright, L., Shan, J., Xiao, B., Dupuis, A., Goodale, T., Shaheen, S-M, Corfield, E.C., Arnold. P.D., Schachar, R.J., & Crosbie, J. (2019). SWAN Scale for ADHD Trait-Based Genetic Research: A Validity and Polygenic Risk Study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13032. PubMed
  3. Burton, C.L.*, Park, L.S*, Corfield, E.C., Forget-Dubois, N., Dupuis, A., Sinopoli, V.M., Shan, J., Goodale, T., Shaheen, S-M, Crosbie, J., Schachar, R.J., Arnold. P.D. Factor Structure and Heritability of Obsessive-Compulsive Traits in Children and Adolescents in the General Population. Translational Psychiatry, 8, 191 (*co-1st authors). PubMed
  4. Dupuis, A, Indralingam, M., Chevrier, A. Crosbie, J., Arnold, P., Burton, C.L., Schachar, R. Response time adjustment in the Stop Signal Task: development in children and adolescents. Child Development, doi: 10.1111/cdev.13062 [epub ahead of print]. PubMed
  5. van der Plas E., Dupuis A., Arnold P., Crosbie J., Schachar R. (2016). Association of Autism Spectrum Disorder with Obsessive-Compulsive and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Traits and Response Inhibition in a Community Sample. Journal of autism and developmental disorders46(9), 3115-3125. PubMed
  6. Park, L., Burton, C.L., Dupuis, A., Shan, J., Storch, E., Crosbie, J., Schachar, R., Arnold, P.D. (2016). The Toronto Obsessive-Compulsive Scale: Psychometrics of a Dimensional Measure of Obsessive-Compulsive Traits. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 55, 310-318. PubMed
  7. Panjwani N., Wilson M. D., Addis L., Crosbie J., Wirrell E., Auvin S., Caraballo R. H., Kinali M., McCormick D., Oren C., Taylor J., Trounce J., Clarke T., Akman C.I., Kugler S.L., Mandelbaum D. E., McGoldrick P., Wolf S. M., Arnold P., Schachar R., Pal D. K., & Strug L. J. (2016). A microRNA-328 binding site in PAX6 is associated with centrotemporal spikes of rolandic epilepsy. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, 2;3(7):512-22. PubMed
  8. Burton, C.L., Crosbie, J., Dupuis, A., Mathews, C.A., Soreni, N., Schachar, R., Arnold, P.D. (2016). Clinical Correlates of Hoarding with and without Comorbid Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms in a Community Pediatric Sample. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 55, 114-121. PubMed
  9. Crosbie, J., Arnold, P., Paterson, A., Swanson, J., Dupuis, A., Li, X., Shan, J., Goodale, T., Tam, C., Strug, L. J., & Schachar, R. J. (2013). Response Inhibition and ADHD Traits: Correlates and Heritability in a Community Sample. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology41(3), 497–507. PubMed
WATCH – Dr. Schachar Present Spit 1 Findings