Dr. Roseann Peterson, Ph.D. is a senior post-doctoral fellow at Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. Her interests in genetics began during her childhood. A deep curiosity about the natural world, first realized as a child during trips to her grandparents’ farm, led her to major in biology at the University of Minnesota (U of MN). During this time, she studied psychology as a second major. These interests converged when she took a behavioral genetics class with Dr. Matt McGue. After graduating, she worked for three years as a research coordinator at the U of MN’s Department of Psychiatry working on studying eating disorders in Dr. Nancy Raymond’s laboratory. She conducted neurocognitive assessments and neuroimaging protocols, and ultimately came to realize that in order to pursue her own research ideas, she would need to obtain an advanced degree. Upon recommendation from her mentors, she came to VCU to get her PhD in human genetics and completed lab rotations with Drs. Michael Neale, Ph.D. and Hermine Maes, Ph.D. Since defending her dissertation, she has continued to work with Dr. Maes on the genetics of nicotine use as a post-doctoral fellow, and currently works with Dr. Kenneth Kendler, M.D. on the China, Oxford, and VCU Experimental Research on Genetic Epidemiology (CONVERGE) project.
Specifically, Dr. Peterson is interested in leveraging sources of heterogeneity to increase the power of molecular genetic analyses of major depression. The goal is that this will lead towards identification of genetic variants conferring risk to major depression in general, to specific subtypes, and to comorbid traits. A recent paper by Dr. Peterson, “Genetic architecture of major depressive disorder in Han Chinese women,” was accepted by and featured on the website of JAMA Psychiatry. She is also being promoted to Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in July!
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Outside of research, Dr. Peterson enjoys Barre classes, riding her bike, traveling, and spending time with her majestic feline companion, Roy. She is also an avid women’s rights activist.
Article by Elizabeth Long.