In 1977, Mr. Jay Pritzker, a successful Chicago investor and founder of the Hyatt hotel chain, and his wife Cindy endowed a Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Professorship at Stanford University, in memory of their daughter, Stanford alumna Nancy Friend Pritzker. The Pritzker family also established the Pritzker laboratory at Stanford.

The current Pritzker Consortium grew out of The Nancy F. Pritzker Network on Depression, a collaborative effort established in 1996 by Mr. and Mrs. Jay Pritzker to encourage small, innovative projects across the three founder institutions – Stanford University, Cornell University and the University of Michigan.

In 2000, as a result of discussions between Mr. Tom Pritzker and the Network scientists regarding the challenges of psychiatric disorders and the promise of emerging technologies, The Pritzker Family Philanthropic Fund established the Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Disorders Research Consortium, a collaborative effort between UC Irvine, UC Davis, Stanford University and the University of Michigan. A core concept was to structure a scientific team wherein leading investigators from different institutions would collaborate to achieve an overarching mission that cannot be accomplished by any individual laboratory. This mission had a highly translational endpoint: to identify new molecules as targets for the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. This required not only coordination around well-defined research and translational goals, but also the elaboration of a social structure and shared values to achieve the mission of the Consortium.

At the end of the first 5-year term, the Pritzker Consortium grew to incorporate the Cornell site. Since then, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology has also become a member.

The initial scientific strategy of the Consortium was to use the then new microarray technology to examine postmortem human brains collected by the UCI/UCD brain bank, and describe for the first time the “neural signature” or “neural phenotype” of psychiatric diseases.

The current scientific strategy of the Consortium is the combined use of genetics, genomics, epigenetics, and neuroscience approaches to define the “circuit neuromics” of psychiatric disease.