Phone: (303) 492-6693
Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1980
Human genetics; comparative DNA sequence analysis; behavioral genetics; complex trait mapping.
My laboratory works in the area of the genetics of complex traits. The major focus of the lab is in the identification and analysis of genes involved in the complex human behavior, Adolescent Antisocial Drug Dependence. Antisocial Drug Dependence (ADD) is defined by the co-occurance in individuals of substance dependence and antisocial personality disorder, or in youths, conduct disorder. In adolescents, between 13 and 18 years of age, we and others have demonstrated that approximately 50% of the variance seen in the trait is heritable. This implies that at least 1/2 of the trait is due to environmental factors such as community environment and familial relationships. In my lab, we are attempting to use "high-throughput" genetic methods applied to populations of affected and unaffected individuals, to map the genes responsible for the 50% of the trait that is due to genes. Our approach has been to establish a population of ADD subjects by recruiting the population of teenagers who are either arrested or are referred to treatment facilities in Denver, or in a replicate study sample, in San Diego. Subjects meeting specific diagnostic criteria are subjected to an exhaustive psychometric analysis to establish the phenotype unambiguously. Siblings and parents of subjects are then recruited and also assessed. During assessments, either blood or saliva samples are taken from which DNA and genetic analyses can be performed. We prepare DNA from all individuals and then determine their genotypes at 50,000 single nucleotide polymorphic (SNP) markers spaced at regular intervals throughout the genome. This is done using Affymetrix chip-based genotyping methods. When sufficient numbers of markers are available, we perform "traditional" genetic mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTL) as well as more specific association analysis. The data analysis requires the use of large computer databases as well as computationally intensive statistical dissection of the genotypes. At the end of the process, it is hoped that one or more genes, that may predispose adolescents to ADD will be defined.
For more information about the project, which is part of a large Drug Center here at the University of Colorado, please see: http://ibgwww.colorado.edu/cadd.