Smith Laboratory

Our research focuses on the molecular genetics of complex behavioral and clinical traits related to psychopathology. We utilize a number of complementary approaches, including genome-wide methods, to explore the potential genetic and epigenetic contributions to childhood and adult psychiatric problems. For studies of child behavior, we have partnered with Emory's Women's Mental Health Center. In conjunction with the Translational Research Center for Behavioral Science, we are conducting a prospective evaluation of the children which incorporates pharmacogenetics, modeling the genetics of placental passage, polymorphisms in stress response genes, and examinations of epigenetic patterns in children resulting from maternal diagnosis and in utero medication exposure. We also have several active projects for the study of adult disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In collaboration with the Grady Trauma Project, we are exploring the genetic and epigenetic contributions to depression and PTSD in a highly-traumatized inner city population. Relevant aspects of this extensive and ongoing study include genome-wide polymorphism and mRNA expression studies, exploration of gene-environment interactions and genetic moderators of neuroimmune function. Finally, we also have a number of additional collaborations examining the genetic and epigenetic predictors of of cytokine-induced depression as well as response to interferon therapy.