Members

Faculty

Joel Gelernter, MD
The research focus of my laboratory is genetics of psychiatric illness. We study a range of behavioral phenotypes including opioid, cannabis, and alcohol dependence, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety disorders. In addition we study a range of intermediate phenotypes, such as neuroimaging measures; and basic issues in population and complex trait genetics. The overall approach involves study of genetic polymorphism and sequence variation, on a molecular level, and from the perspective of population genetics. Current studies include multicenter case/control association studies with the goal of identifying genes predisposing to opioid and alcohol dependence (using genome-wide association analysis and other approaches); a whole exome sequencing study of methamphetamine dependence, in Thailand; studies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the US Million Veteran Program; and a VA study on the pharmacogenomics of antidepressant response. I also co-lead the Substance Use Disorders group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium.

Renato Polimanti, PhD @RenatoPolimanti
Dr. Polimanti is Assistant Professor at Yale School of Medicine and his main scientific interests are biological psychiatry, statistical genetics, computational biology, and human evolution. He is involved in large collaborative efforts, including the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, the Million Veteran Project, and the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers. His ultimate scientific goal is to understand the biology of human phenome from multiple perspectives. Renato is a proud European, Italian, and Roman (i.e., born and raised in the caput mundi), in that order. His main non-scientific skills/characteristics include professional dog walker, qualified bookworm, and infamous food addict.

Janitza Montalvo-Ortiz @JanitzaMontalvo
Dr. Montalvo-Ortiz is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Division of Human Genetics. She received her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Northwestern University, and her B.A. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. Her main research interests include the study of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms involved in trauma-related psychiatry disorders. She is involved in the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder EWAS Workgroup. Born and raised in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in Cayey, she is a native mountain/beach lover, who enjoys art, food, travel, spending time with family and friends, and being a mom of a cute baby boy.

Bao-Zhu Yang, PhD
Dr. Yang is a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry. Her research interests lie in the discovery of the genetic mechanisms of psychiatric disorders, in particular, substance use and related disorders, and statistical genetics. She was born and raised in Taiwan, and she maintains international collaborations in Taiwan and in China. She enjoys music, painting, and traveling, cooking and good food. She is a regular swimmer.

Hang Zhou, PhD
Dr. Zhou is Associate Research Scientist working on genetics of substance use disorders and comorbid diseases. He received his PhD in computational biology from Partner Institute for Computational Biology (PICB), Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2015. After that, he joined in Dr. Gelernter’s lab to pursue research on identifying novel genetic risks and exploring the biological etiology for complex psychiatric diseases.

Staff

AnnMarie Lacobelle
Ms. Lacobelle is a Research Associate at Yale School of Medicine. She is Dr Gelernter’s lab manager and has been with him since 1994, longer than her actual marriage. She oversees the day-to-day operation of the wet lab from sample intake and extraction to genotyping of samples either through microarrays, high through put taqman assay or the dreaded RFLPs’s (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism). In her spare time AnnMarie is an Uber driver for her two teenage daughters and their friends to either swim team or cheerleading practices. In the very little down time that AnnMarie does get, she enjoys cooking and visiting the local winery that have popped up around Connecticut.

Yaira Zoe Nunez @yairazoe
Ms. Nunez is a Research Associate at Yale School of Medicine. She is an expert SSADDA Trainer and has been a SSADDA interviewer working on the Genetics of Cocaine, Alcohol, Opioid and Methamphetamine Dependence Projects for over 16 years. She has led international SSADDA courses in Bangkok and Chiang Mai Thailand, Changsha, China and Taipei, Taiwan. She is responsible for the coordination of all study-related activities involving recruitment and IRB issues at both Yale and the West Haven VA. She provides data analysis support to the team and is interested in phenotype data collection and quality control. In her spare time, Yaira Zoe enjoys tinkering with her 3D printer and supporting the local arts scene.

Hannah Lightcap
Ms. Lightcap is a Research Associate for Dr. Gelernter’s Psychiatric Genetics Laboratory. She administers the Semi-Structured Assessment on Drug Dependence and Alcoholism, an observational measure designed to evaluate participants’ drug and psychiatric use and treatment. These four to six-hour interviews have taught her that she can withstand not eating for long periods of time and can talk to just about anyone! Jokes aside, the lengthy time she spends with participants helps her understand that each person and their interactions with drugs, etc. is valid and unique. This experience more than any others has taught her the necessity of patience and attention to detail in research. Additionally, she supports Dr. Gelernter in grant submissions and general research administration upkeep. This experience has been invaluable since in the future she hopes to apply for grants of her own after she receives a PhD.

Trainees

Zhongshan Cheng
Dr. Cheng is a researcher interested in both biology and bioinformatics. Now he is a postdoc in the Department of Psychiatry and focusing on opioid dependence and other drug dependencies. He also had one-year postdoc training in cancer genomics in Queen’s University and more than 5 years’ experience in microbiology when he was a PhD in the University of Hong Kong. With this versatile experience, he can solve biological and bioinformatical problems independently. Apart from his work, he would like to stay with his wife and look after his son and daughter. If it is possible, he would try to use available time to enjoy jogging, which is his favorite exercise and makes him much happier.

Daniel Levey
Dr. Levey joined the Gelernter lab in July of 2017. His graduate work focused on the development of precision medicine tools for psychiatry using quantitative phenotyping and peripheral blood gene expression. Currently training in the field of statistical genetics, he aims to discover how a firmer understanding of the genomic architecture of complex traits might inform models for precision medicine. Dan Levey is a proud father and husband. In the little spare time that is left to him he enjoys cooking, scotch, and cars. Never all at the same time. Scotch + Cooking = good. Scotch + Cars = bad. Cooking + Cars = also bad.

Frank Wendt
Dr. Wendt is a postdoctoral associate at in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale advised by Dr. Renato Polimanti. His doctoral work, performed under the mentorship of Dr. Bruce Budowle at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, with significant contributions from Dr. Antti Sajantila (University of Helsinki), evaluated multi- versus mono-genic predictive models of tramadol metabolism and response. At Yale, he studies the genetics of psychiatric disorders, behavioral phenotypes, and other complex traits.

Carolina Muniz Félix de Carvalho
Ms. Carvalho has a degree in Biomedical Sciences from Federal University Fluminense (Brazil) and a master’s degree in science by the Structural and Functional Biology Program from Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Now she is a PhD student from Federal University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and she is currently working with Dr. Renato Polimanti at Yale University (USA). Carolina has experience in genetics, mainly in psychiatric genetics, with emphasis on molecular biology and genomics. Her doctoral research focus on evaluating the genetic factors at different levels (genomic, methylation and telomere length) which may be associated with Posttraumatic stress disorder.

Affiliated Yale Collaborators

Robert Malison, MD, Professor of Psychiatry

Marc Potenza, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, in the Child Study Center and of Neuroscience

Alumni

Andrew H. Smith, Resident at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Huiping Zhang, Associate Professor at the Boston University School of Medicine

Qian Wang, Data Scientist at ID Analytics

Chureerat Phokaew, Scientist at Chulalongkorn University

Aryeh Herman, Clinical Psychologist

Can Yang, Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Pingxing Xie, Resident at McGill University

Dawei Li, Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont

Shizhong Han, Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Jaakko Lappalainen, Chief of Addiction Psychiatry at Crozer-Keystone Health System

Joseph Cubells, Associate Professor at the Emory School of Medicine