Genetics & Neuroscience

The Genetics and Neuroscience SIG brings together researchers who are broadly involved in the biological science of anxiety and depressive disorders. This includes clinical and basic neuroscience (electrophysiology, imaging, animal models, experimental paradigms) and genetics (twin and family studies, molecular genetics, endophenotypes). The SIG provides ADAA members with opportunities to network, share ideas, form collaborations, and update one another and the broader ADAA community on the state of the genetics and neuroscience field. The group is comprised of a diverse array of clinicians, researchers, and clinician-researchers across the student, postdoctoral scholar/clinical trainee, and faculty/practitioner levels.

If you’re interested in joining this SIG, please login to your member account Please contact ADAA with questions. Please view the ADAA SIG Guidelines

Recent SIG activities include: (1) Establishing a repository of information on measures relevant to the genetics and neuroscience study of anxiety and depression, so that anyone in the ADAA community can learn what measures are out there, how to find them, and how they link to other units of analysis within the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) domain, and (2) Providing monthly updates on articles relevant to the group’s focus.

SIG Co-Chairs:

  • Lynnette A. Averill, PhD, National Center for PTSD
  • Karmel Choi, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Namik Kirlic, PhD, Laureate Institute for Brain Research
  • Daniel Levey, PhD, Yale University/VA Connecticut Healthcare System

Former SIG Co-Chairs:

  • Sanne van Rooij, PhD (2017-2019)
  • Sahib Khalsa, PhD (2017-2019)
  • Karmel Choi, PhD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2019-2020)

Board Liasion:
Sheila Rauch, PhD, ABPP, Emory University School of Medicine 

Research Resources from the GAN SIG

2020-2021 Annual Report 

The Genetics and Neuroscience SIG has continued to engage the ADAA community in the past year and looks forward to our planned events and updates in the coming year.  

The global pandemic has been disruptive in all of our lives. In the 2019-2020 period, the GAN-SIG had organized a panel discussion with experts in resilience research (including Drs. Murray Stein, Adriana Feder, and Ann Masten) for the ADAA 2020 meeting, which would feature a conversation on the utility of genetics and neuroscience approaches to resilience. With the rescheduling of ADAA 2021 as a virtual conference, we are currently planning new GAN-SIG activities that we hope will be synced with the virtual meeting. This will most likely involve a short coffee break discussion during the meeting itself, in addition to a full panel webinar shortly after the meeting where we hope more interested members and researchers can join. We continue to brainstorm ideas to increase engagement with GAN SIG members as well as seeking possible ways to collaborate with other SIGs or other groups within ADAA. Stay tuned for additional details.

We very much look forward to the upcoming virtual conference and the exciting programming overall, with special emphasis on the events related to the genetic and neuroscience underpinnings of resilience. 

During the 2018-2019 period, the GAN SIG hosted to primary events. First, Dr. Jordan Smoller presented a webinar in December 2018 titled, “Genetics of depression and anxiety: What do clinicians need to know?” Dr. Smoller is the MHC Trustees Endowed Chair in Psychiatric Neuroscience, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. He is Associate Chief for Research in the MGH Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit in the MGH Center for Genomic Medicine. Dr. Smoller is a Tepper Family MGH Research Scholar and also serves as Director of the Omics Unit of the MGH Division of Clinical Research and co-Director of the Partners HealthCare Biobank at MGH. He is a Principal Investigator of All of Us New England as part of the NIH All of Us Research Program. Dr. Smoller is an author of more than 300 scientific publications and is also the author of The Other Side of Normal (HarperCollins/William Morrow, 2012). In his webinar, he described the current status of psychiatric genetic research with a focus on depressive and anxiety disorders and reviewed implications of this work for clinical practice, including the prospects and limitations of genetic or pharmacogenetic testing. He also described the potential for extending a precision medicine approach to the realm of depression and anxiety disorders. The webinar is accessible here.

At the annual conference in Chicago, we hosted a lunchtime symposium titled, “Failure to launch? Promises and pitfalls of genetic/neuroscience predictors in mental health.” Dr. Roy Perlis, Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and School of Public Health and Dr. Isaac Galatzer-Levy, Assistant Professor and Clinical Psychologist/Neuroscientist at NYU School of Medicine and AiCure presented. Dr. Perlis’ work focuses on developing clinical and genomic predictors of treatment response in mood disorders, and on developing novel therapeutics based on cellular models of brain disease. Dr. Galatzer-Levy’s work uses clinical and neuroimaging data to predict trajectories of PTSD development and maintenance. Both speakers gave a 15-minute TED talk-style presentation on the promises and pitfalls of genetics (Dr. Perlis) and neuroimaging (Dr. Galatzer-Levy) predictors in mental health, after which there was some lively discussion from GAN SIG members in attendance. 

Also, at the annual meeting, new Co-Chairs (Drs. Lynnette Averill and Karmel Choi) were formally introduced in and began their term while out-going Co-Chairs (Drs. Sahib Khalsa and Sanne van Rooij) ended their term. We are very grateful to Sahib and Sanne for their contributions to the GAN SIG and look forward to seeing them at events in the future…and inviting them to present at the webinars and/or lunchtime symposiums.  Dr. Lynnette Averill is an Assistant Professor at Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and a Clinical Research Psychologist at the National Center for PTSD-Clinical Neurosciences Division in Connecticut. Her work focuses on pharmacoimaging trials evaluating rapid-acting antidepressants on suicidal thoughts and behaviors in PTSD as well as investigations into the neural underpinnings of suicidality in chronic stress pathology. Dr. Karmel Choi is a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatric genetics and translational research at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her work focuses primarily on using epidemiology, data science, and genomics to study why people recover from stress and trauma, in order to identify ways to improve human resilience and well-being across the life course. 

Two new Co-Chairs have been recruited and we are delighted to have them on board. Dr. Dan Levey is an associate research scientist at Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry in Connecticut, where his research focuses mainly on the genetics of anxiety and depression in the Million Veteran (MVP) program participants. He has also done work investigating transcriptomic biomarkers associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Dr. Namik Kirlic is an Associate Investigator and Clinical Psychologist at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His line of research focuses mainly on understanding neural correlates of threat and approach-avoidance processing in mood and anxiety disorders, as well as working to leverage neuroscience to establish preventative intervention for adverse consequences of childhood maltreatment. 

See you in March!


The Fantastic Four GAN SIG Co-Chairs

Karmel & Nette (Co-Chairs, 2019-2021)
Dan & Namik (Co-Chairs, 2020-2022)