Jane Gitschier, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Medicine and of Pediatrics
Dr. Gitschier is interested in discovering the genetic basis for absolute pitch, the uncanny ability to identify the pitch of a tone without a reference tone. This study has generated new insights into pitch perception. A second research area involves genetic genealogy and privacy. With a passion for genetics history, she is also the interviews editor for the open access journal PLoS Genetics and is currently working on a book project on the dawn of human molecular biology in the 1970s.
Su Guo, PhD
Professor of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences
Graduate Membership: DSCB, Neuroscience, PSPG, Tetrad
Dr. Guo has a broad background in molecular biology, genetics, developmental biology, neurobiology, and is interested in the molecular genetic mechanisms that regulate brain development and function. Dr. Guo’s laboratory employs zebrafish and mammalian cell models to study the molecular genetics of neural development and behavior, with the ultimate goal of broadening our basic understanding of the brain and the mind, as well as to help treat neuropsychiatric disorders.
Yun-Fai Chris Lau, PhD
Professor of Medicine
Research Career Scientist, VA Medical Center, San Francisco
Dr. Lau is interested in understanding the functions of the Y chromosome genes and their homologues in human development, physiology and disease. Recent efforts are focused on the gene regulatory hierarchy in mammalian sex determination and differentiation, the contrasting roles of a Y-located oncogene and its X-homologue tumor suppressor in human oncogenesis, and the contributions of the Y chromosome genes in sexual dimorphisms in human diseases, such as autism, Hirschsprung disease, and hepatocellular carcinoma with high male preference in the respective patient populations. Various advanced molecular genetic, genomic, proteomic, and transgenic mouse modeling strategies are utilized in these studies.
Neil Risch, PhD
Lamond Family Foundation Distinguished Professor in Human Genetics
Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Graduate Program Membership: BMI, BMS, ETS, PSPG
Dr. Risch focuses on the development and application of statistical methods to address problems in human population genetics and genetic epidemiology. This has involved numerous projects using linkage analysis and positional cloning to identify novel disease genes, such as the genes causing hemochromatosis and torsion dystonia, as well as methodology for dissection of genetically complex traits including autism, hypertension, and multiple sclerosis. He has also spearheaded the approach of genome-wide association studies, the recent mainstay of human genetic analysis, and developed with investigators at Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research a large genetic epidemiology research cohort on aging.
Stephan Sanders, BMBS, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Graduate Program Membership: Neuroscience
Dr. Sanders is a geneticist and pediatrician who works on the genetics of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, in particular Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). His lab specializes in bioinformatics, including microarray, exome sequencing, and whole-genome sequencing to identify genetic loci, map genomic architecture, and understand the sex bias seen in ASD. One major goal is to identify specific genes that contribute to these disorders, for example the sodium channel gene SCN2A is commonly mutated in ASD, as an entrée into the underlying biology.
Matthew State, MD, PhD
Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry
Dr. State focuses on gene discovery as a means to elaborate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying childhood onset neuropsychiatry disorders, with a particular focus on autism, Tourette disorder and childhood onset schizophrenia. His lab leverages both traditional mapping techniques, including in consanguineous families, as well as high throughput genomic methods in large patient cohorts. His lab is also currently working on generating and integrating data on gene regulation and expression to seek points of mechanistic, spatial and temporal convergence among divergent genes contributing to a common psychiatric presentation.
Shantel Weinsheimer, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Care
Dr. Weinsheimer’s research interests include human genetics studies of cerebrovascular malformations and neuropsychiatric disorders. Her group’s main focus is the identification of clinical genomics tools that can aid early detection, stratify patient subtypes and result in improved clinical management for individuals with brain vascular malformations including brain AVM, aneurysm, Cerebral Cavernous Malformation and Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia. Current approaches include genome-wide association studies, screening for rare variants, investigation of somatic variation, and blood expression profiling to identify molecular markers of poor outcome.
Lauren A. Weiss, PhD
Staglin Family / IMHRO Associate Professor of Psychiatry • Weill Institute for Neurosciences
Graduate Program Membership: BMS, PSPG
Dr. Weiss studies genetic mechanisms behind autism and related disorders. She is tracing how genes interact with factors such as sex and environment and studying how rare genetic diseases can uncover gene-gene interaction. Current work also focused on generating stem cells from patients with known genetic risk factors. These cells can be turned into neurons and glia in order to study their growth, development, and function. Once cellular deficits are revealed, Dr. Weiss investigates how those deficits can be modified or corrected. Her goal is to improve understanding, prevention, and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders.