The researchers haven’t provided details about their plans, but experts contacted by the New York Times speculate that the scientists might look for mutations that might be associated with mental illnesses — and ones that might also increase the risk for violence.
In addition, they might look at Lanza’s genes to see if there is anything unusual such as gene duplications, gene deletions or unexpected mutations.
The announcement is getting mixed reactions among experts, according to ABC News.
Arthur Beaudet, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, believes studying genetic abnormalities can help experts better understand who is at risk and figure out better treatments to preventing mass shootings.
Other experts, such as Dr. Harold Bursztajn, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, question what the University of Connecticut researchers could “even be looking for at this point.”
“Given how wide the net would have to be cast and given the problem of false positives in testing, it is much more likely we would go ahead and find some misleading genetic markers, which would later be proven false while unnecessarily stigmatizing a very large group of people,” Bursztajn told ABC News.
No matter what results the study might yield, researchers will have a challenge because there is not enough data to compare it to, according to Dr. Heidi Tissenbaum of the University of Massachusetts medical school.
“The problem is there might be a genetic component, but we don’t have enough of a sample size,” Tissenbaum told New York magazine. “I think it’s much more than a simple genetic answer, but an interplay between genetics and environment.”