Department of Psychiatry

Genetic Epidemiology Program

Doughlas E. Williamson, PhD
Douglas E. Williamson, Ph.D.

The Genetic Epidemiology Program is directed by Douglas E. Williamson, Ph.D., Dielmann Professor of Genetic and Environmental Risk.  The primary focus of the Genetic Epidemiology Program is on understanding the role genes and environment play in the onset and maintenance of psychiatric disorders emerging in childhood and adolescence.  One of the main research projects the Genetic Epidemiology Program is involved in is a large-scale epidemiologic study examining pathways into adolescent-onset alcohol use disorders.  The Teen Alcohol Outcomes Study (TAOS) is examining genes involved in the serotonin pathway, environmental stress, and neural systems as they converge to increase an adolescent’s susceptibility to develop an alcohol use disorder.  In addition to TAOS, a few of the ongoing research projects include:

  • The importance of exposure to stressful life events during early adolescence as they moderate the familial-genetic risk for depression.
  • Exploring genetic variation of the corticotrophin releasing hormone receptor 1 as it moderates the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis response.
  • Identifying the genetic and environmental contributions to the affective pathway for alcohol use disorders emerging in adolescence.
  • Using non-human primates to identify the underlying genetic pathways for anxious/fearful behaviors and alcohol sensitivity in rhesus macaques.
  • Examining genetic contributions of the serotonin system for the onset and maintenance of depression beginning in adolescence.


There are several training and educational opportunities available to both pre- and postdoctoral students.  To find out more, contact either Dr. Williamson or Ms. Taiym.



Douglas E. Williamson, Ph.D.
Director, Genetic Epidemiology Program


Wafa Taiym, B.S.
Assistant Director, Genetic Epidemiology Program

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