The Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics offers a rich interdisciplinary training environment in the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park with outstanding molecular genetic and computer facilities. Institute faculty include some of the leaders in the field of behavioral and psychiatric genetics and reflect a wide range of scientific backgrounds from molecular and statistical genetics to epidemiology, psychology and psychiatry.
Currently-funded research includes molecular genetic studies of schizophrenia, alcoholism major depression, anxiety and panic disorders, PTSD, substance use disorders. Institute faculty have a strong track record of pioneering twin studies of complex disorders, including: adolescent behavioral development; adult anxiety; depression; substance abuse disorders; human behavior related to physical and mental health. These outcomes are studied together with their pertinent epidemiological risk factors, such as stressful life events, social support and parent-child relationships. In addition, faculty are also funded to develop methods for the statistical genetic analysis of complex disorders.
VIPBG has an active predoctoral program and offers a variety of predoctoral positions. There are two main sources of graduate students:
- VIPBG collaborates with the VCU’s Integrative Life Sciences PhD Program to offer an interdisciplinary PhD in Integrative Life Sciences with a concentration in Behavioral and Statistical Genetics (BSG). Students in the BSG track obtain interdisciplinary training, with coursework in human genetics, psychology/psychiatry, biostatistics, and epidemiology, with flexibility to tailor training and research experience to the student’s interests and career goals. This track is also open to MD/PhD students to fulfill the PhD requirements of their dual degrees.
- Graduate students in PhD programs from other departments, including Psychology, Human and Molecular Genetics, Biostatistics, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Medicine (MD/PhD program) often work with and receive mentoring from VIPBG faculty. Many of VIPBG faculty have appointments across multiple departments, which facilitates interdisciplinary research. While this route allows students to conduct research with Institute faculty, students who come through external departments must adhere to the degree requirements of their home departments. As a result, this approach may lengthen time to degree completion because students must fulfill course requirements for the home department, as well as additional interdisciplinary coursework necessary to conduct research in the area of psychiatric and behavioral genetics. If you are applying to a PhD program in another department and want to work with a faculty member at VIPBG as your primary mentor, we highly recommend that you contact the VIPBG faculty member and make them aware of your intentions so that they can communicate directly with the admissions committees of the relevant department.
VIPBG also has an active postdoctoral program and offers a variety of postdoctoral positions. There are three main mechanisms:
- A traditional postdoc position funded by a research grant. Many VIPBG faculty holding research grants have postdoc vacancies to work on specific projects. These position’s scope of research is guided by the scope of the research proposed in the research grant. For currently open positions, please visit our employment opportunities.
- Postdoctoral training on the NIMH Training Program. This T32 training grant has been funded through NIMH since 1999 (T32MH020030: Research Training: Psychiatric and Statistical Genetics) and offers three postdoctoral positions. Postdoctoral training is tailored to the experience and needs of the trainee. Fellows will select a primary mentor, and one or more secondary mentors based on her/his research interests. The focus of the research covers the spectrum of genetic approaches applied to mental health.
- Finally, postdoctoral fellows funded through other national or international institutions may choose to spend some time working with a particular faculty member or a team of investigators on a particular project. Such opportunities are typically arranged through direct contact with the respective faculty member.