Smoller Laboratory

The Smoller Laboratory is working to understand the genetic basis of psychiatric disorders in order to improve diagnosis and treatment.


Assistant to Dr. Jordan W. Smoller

Kristin Joyce
Simches Research Building
185 Cambridge Street, CPZN-6
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-724-9076; Fax: 617-726-0830




Dr. Jordan Smoller is 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 for the MGH Department of Psychiatry and Director of Psychiatric Genetics. He is Director of the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit in the MGH Center for Human Genetics Research. Dr. Smoller also serves as co-director of the Genetics and Genomics Unit of the MGH Clinical Research Program, is an Associate Member of the Broad Institute and a Senior Scientist at the Broad’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research.

Dr. Smoller earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard University and his medical degree at Harvard Medical School. After completing residency training in psychiatry at McLean Hospital, Dr. Smoller received masters and doctoral degrees in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. He also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the NIMH Training Program in Psychiatric Genetics.

The focus of Dr. Smoller’s research interests has been the identification of genetic determinants of childhood and adult psychiatric disorders. Dr. Smoller and colleagues have also been studying genetic predictors of treatment response and the ways in which advances in genetics may impact clinical practice in psychiatry. He is an author of more than 200 scientific articles, book chapters and reviews; the recipient of numerous research awards; and a principal investigator on NIH-funded studies of the genetics of anxiety and the genetics of bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia as well as brain imaging phenotypes.

Staff List

Faculty |  Post-Docs |  Clinical Research Team | Graduate Students | Laboratory Research Team | Alumni


Erin DunnErin Dunn, ScD, MPH

Erin C. Dunn is Instructor in the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit in the MGH Center for Human Genetics Research. She is a graduate of Northeastern University (BS Psychology and Elementary Education), Boston University School of Public Health (MPH Public Health), and the Harvard School of Public Health (ScD Social and Psychiatric Epidemiology).  She is particularly interested in using interdisciplinary approaches to better understand the etiology of depression in children and adolescents.  Her recent research is focusing on gene by social environment interplay in psychiatric disorders.

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Mei-Hua HallMei-Hua Hall, PhD, MSc

Mei-Hua Hall is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and an Assistant Neuroscientist at McLean Hospital. Dr. Hall is a graduate of Lancaster University, University College London (UCL) (M.Sc. in Experimental Methods in Psychology), and King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry (PhD, Psychiatric Genetics). Her current research is centered on translational psychiatric genetics research in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Further, she is interested in studying the application of neurophysiological endophenotypes as a tool for characterizing disease risk genes.



Niels RosenquistNiels Rosenquist, MD, PhD

Niels Rosenquist is an Instructor in Psychiatry at MGH, an Instructor at Harvard Medical School, and a Chief Economist for the Division of International Medicine at MGH. Dr. Rosenquist obtained his bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Medical School and the Wharton School (PhD, Applied Economics). He was a Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry at MGH and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy. Dr. Rosenquist's research interests include neuroeconomics, genetics, addiction, and social networks.


Avram HolmesAvram Holmes, PhD

Avram Holmes is an Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an Assistant in Research at MGH. Dr. Holmes obtained his bachelor's degree in Psychology at Pennsylvania State University and his PhD in Psychology at Harvard University. He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University. His research interests focus on the establishment of biological and environmental predictors of psychiatric illness risk.


Mert SabuncuMert Sabuncu, PhD

Mert Sabuncu is an Assistant Professor of Radiology, Dept. of Radiology, MGH/Harvard Medical School,and an Assistant in Neuroscience, MGH. Dr. Sabuncu obtained his BSc at Middle East Technical University, and his PhD in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University. He was a Post-Doctoral Associate at CSAIL, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests include biomedical image analysis, computational neuroimaging genetics, image processing, computer vision, pattern recognition, multivariate statistics, Bayesian graphical models, approximate inference.


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Laura GermineLaura Germine, PhD

Laura Germine is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School. Dr. Germine is also affiliated with the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute and the Vision Sciences Laboratory at Harvard University.

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Shaunna Berkovitch, Ph.D.
Shaunna Berkovitch is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also affiliated with the Chemical Biology Program at the Broad Institute.
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Chia-Yen ChenChia-Yen Chen, ScD

Chia-Yen Chen, Sc.D. is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit (PNGU) and the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit (ATGU) at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Chen is also affiliated with the Broad institute and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Tian GeTian Ge, PhD

Tian Ge is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit (PNGU), Center for Human Genetic Research, and Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School. His primary mentors are Jordan W. Smoller, M.D., Sc.D., and Mert R. Sabuncu, Ph.D.

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Graduate Students

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Clinical Research Team

Catherine Shain

Catherine Shain, Program Manager
Catherine Shain is the Program Manager for the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit. She received her BS in Public Health from Clemson University and her MPH in Epidemiology from Boston University. She previously managed the Epilepsy Genetics Program at Boston Children's Hospital and has over 10 years experience in research management. Catherine is currently involved in a range of projects aiming to identify the genetic basis of psychiatric, behavioral, and neurodevelopment disorders.

Bridget Chak

Bridget Chak, Clinical Research Coordinator
Bridget Chak is a clinical research coordinator at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit. She graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in Behavioral Biology. Her undergraduate research included investigating neuroendocrine mechanisms that regulate temporal polyethism in honeybee workers. She is currently involved in studies that aim to classify neural and genetic correlates of psychiatric disorders, and the development of a suicide prediction model that utilizes data mining of EHRs. Following her position at MGH, Bridget plans to pursue a PhD in evolutionary biology, focusing on GxE interactions that translate into colony-level behavioral flexibility among eusocial species.


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Laboratory Research Team

Amanda Galenkamp, Research Lab Technician
Jonathan Chaponis, Research Lab Technician
Alexander Zaitsev, PhD, MS, Application Developer

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Christine Finn
Mireya Nadal

Visiting Investigators
Carolina Blaya
Soraya Seedat

Jennifer Barnett
Sarah Bergen
Jennifer DiNieri
Laramie Duncan
Erin Dunn
Jie Huang
Phil Hyoun Lee
Lauren McGrath
Alisha Pollastri
Nadia Solovieff
Margaret Wey
Anna Wiste

Program Managers
Holly Sciortino
Alison Hoffnagle

Project Managers
Stephen Haddad
Patience Gallagher
Francine Molay
Priya Moorjani
Beth Rosen-Sheidley

Office/Grants Managers
Talia Goldsmith
Jennifer Pinto
Katie Sklarsky
Jamie Weller
Samantha Schwartz
Erin Anderson

Project Managers
Felecia Cerrato

Lori Thomas

Graduate Students
Jessica Agnew-Blais
Jian Kong

Laboratory Managers
Jes Fagerness, JD
Brian Galloway

Laboratory Technicians
Sarah Andrus
Natalie Balkema
Aditi Basu, MS
Jacqueline Crane
Daisy Dai
Allan Guiney
Boyd Gunnell
John Kennedy
Catherine Mayerfeld
Miles Nugent
Gerri Tangren
Jenna Tarasoff
Sarah Weatherall
Aaron Wolf
Lesley Yamaki

Research Coordinators
Stefanie Block
Maria Bulzacchelli
Caitlin Clements
Yael Dai
Erica Gardner-Schuster
Connie Guille
Tamar Kaim
Stephanie Racette
Lisa Susswein
Lisa Watras
Sydney Weill
Candace White
Mirella Young

Lab Interns
Noura Al-Juffali
Shannon Bean
Katherine Beattie
Jennifer Bourne
Sofia Chua-Rubenfeld
Catherine Demers
Tomer Finkelberg
John Hoffer
Brendan Lang
Sam Levin
Lydia Lewis
Sony Mysore
Cameron Peebles
Sara Rubenstein
Liz Rubin
Jared Soundy
Zeke Vainer

Undergraduate Thesis Advisee
Malorie Snider


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Research Projects

Selected Projects:

  • Exposure, D-Cycloserine Enhancement, and Genetic Modulators in Panic Disorder (Mark Pollack, PI)Co-Investigator
    The major goals of this project are to compare the acute efficacy of DCS augmentation relative to placebo augmentation of CBT for the treatment of patients with panic disorder, examine the longer-term effects of DCS, and to examine whether genetic loci strongly implicated in the neurobiology of fear conditioning and extinction are associated with extinction learning in response to CBT alone or CBT/DCS treatment.
  • Gene Regulation and Linkage Analysis in Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia (Bruce Cohen and Dost Ongur, PIs)Subcontract PI
    The goal of this study is to examine genetic variants associated with psychotic disorders in a large cohort of patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder.
  • Genetic and Environmental Predictors of Trauma-Related Outcomes in Hurricane Katrina Survivors (Mary Waters, PI)PI of Subcontract
    The major goals of this project are to examine whether specific genetic polymorphisms modify the effect of social and individual environmental exposures on post-hurricane adjustment, including PTSD.
  • Genetic Dissection of Anxious TemperamentPI
    The major goal of this project was to identify genetic influences on behavioral inhibition a temperamental profile linked to anxiety and mood disorders. Methods include family-based association analysis and linkage disequilibrium studies of candidate loci derived from mouse models of anxious temperament.
  • Genomic Superstruct (Randy Buckner, PhD and Jordan W. Smoller, MD, ScD, PI’s)Co-Investigator
    The major goals of this project are to build a large-scale repository of brain and behavioral data to facilitate genetic studies by the scientific community and to perform genomewide analyses to identify common and rare variants underlying the neural basis of psychiatric disorders.
  • International Cohort Collection for Bipolar DisorderPI
    The major goals of this project are to collect a large cohort of bipolar disorders cases and unaffected controls, and construct a harmonized data source for genome-wide studies combining phenotypic data from the U.S. case-control sample with a parallel, separately funded European case-control sample.
  • Improving Outcomes in the Pharmacotherapy of Social Anxiety Disorder (Mark Pollack, PI)Co-Investigator
    The goal of this study is to compare the relative efficacy of treatments for social anxiety disorder and to examine predictors and moderators of treatment response including genetic polymorphisms (pharmacogenetic predictors).
  • Psychiatric GWAS Consortium: Genomic Follow-up Next-Gen Sequencing & Genotyping (Mark Daly, PI)Co-investigator
    The major goals of this project are to elucidate the allelic spectrum of major psychiatric disorders by integrating empirical data for all readily measurable types of genetic variation of etiological relevance (common SNP, rare exonic, and rare and common copy number variation polymorphisms).
  • Reward Processing and Genetic Risk for Impulsive Aggression: The Role of HTR1b (Joshua Buckholtz, PI)Co-PI
    The major goals of this project are to examine the effect of genetic variation in HTR1B on neural and behavioral measures of reward sensitivity and aggression-related traits.
  • Using Genetics to Dissect Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and DepressionPI
    The major goal of this project is to combine phenotypic and genetic data from three large multicenter NIMH-funded treatment studies to dissect genetic influences on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.

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