Author Archive

Featured Student: Cassie Overstreet

Cassie Overstreet is a fifth-year student in Clinical Psychology. Prior to graduate school, Cassie’s research as an undergraduate at Auburn University and in the post-baccalaureate program at the National Institute of Mental Health focused on the relationship between trauma exposure and psychopathology on a phenotypic level. Subsequently, she became interested in the factors contributing to psychopathology from a more comprehensive view (e.g., genetic influences), which led her to Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics during her ...

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Methodological Development And Statistical Genetics

Dr. Silviu-Alin Bacanu, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. His interests in psychiatric genetics began while he was completing his PhD in statistics from the University of Pittsburgh. Upon graduating, he pursued these interests by working in psychiatric genetics research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for several years, where he worked with on a variety of phenotypes, including schizophrenia, eating disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease. Subsequently, he obtained a research position at ...

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Featured Student: Elizabeth Do

Elizabeth Do is a fifth-year student in the Psychiatric, Behavioral, and Statistical Genetics PhD program. Prior to her training at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Elizabeth earned her Bachelors of Arts in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and her Master of Public Health from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her desire to learn more about both the genetic and environmental factors contributing to mental health disorders led her to pursue doctoral studies at ...

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Personal Experience Leads To Career In Anxiety Disorders

Dr. John Hettema, MD., Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the VCU Anxiety Disorders Specialty Clinic. Dr. Hettema has a PhD in physics, but a series of personal experiences with several close friends suffering from severe depression during his physics post-doctoral fellowship period ignited his interest in psychiatry. This interest sparked a career change, and he entered medical school at the Medical College of Virginia in 1992. During the summer ...

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Featured Postdoc: Anna Docherty, Ph.D.

Anna Docherty, Ph.D. recently completed her postdoc training at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. In two years at VIPBG, she secured an NIMH K01 and NARSAD Young Investigator Award to study the molecular genetics of schizophrenia and schizotypy, and published several papers using both biometrical and molecular genetics approaches. She just began a tenure-track professorship in Psychiatry and Human Genetics at the University of Utah, and her work dovetails extremely well ...

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The Genetic Underpinnings Of PTSD And Stress-Related Drinking

Dr. Ananda Amstadter, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Human and Molecular Genetics. Her interests in the field of psychiatric genetics began when she worked as a research assistant during her undergraduate years. While coding archived assessments of women with borderline personality disorder, she was struck by the number of these women who had a history of trauma. These experiences launched her interest in traumatic stress psychopathology and her desire to fully ...

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Whole Genome Sequencing In Multiplex Families

Brien Riley, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. He is a molecular geneticist interested in identifying genes that contribute to variation in the brain, central nervous system function, and psychiatric illness risk and behavior. These interests developed after he completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology, as a result of his dissatisfaction with the field’s way of approaching brain function and dysfunction. He was frustrated “because the field of psychology did not, ...

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Featured Postdoc: Robert Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.

Robert Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral fellow at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. He first became interested in the field of psychiatric and behavioral genetics while earning his undergraduate degree at Goucher College, where he was intrigued by individual differences in cognitive ability. These interests led him to earn his PhD in personality, individual differences, and behavioral genetics at the University of Minnesota. During his time there, he developed a strong interest in methodology. ...

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Dr. Vladimirov Receives $400K Alcohol Dependence Grant

Vladimir Vladimirov, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded a two-year grant from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the amount of $419,375 to study the genome-wide expression patterns of genes and miRNA in the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex from subjects with alcohol dependence (AD) and healthy controls. The award has two main goals: i) identify AD-relevant gene and miRNA networks and ii) detect genetic polymorphisms found to be associated with AD from genome-wide association studies ...

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Brain Structure, Function & Human Development

Michael Neale, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychiatry, Human and Molecular Genetics, and Psychology, as well as associate director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. His career in the field of psychiatric genetics started as an interest in psychology and neuroscience, which developed during his formative adolescent years after reading Jeffrey Gray’s The Psychology of Fear and Stress. Subsequently, he earned both his Bachelor’s and PhD degrees in psychology at the University at London, where ...

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