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Thomas Fernandez, MD

Associate Professor In the Child Study Center and in Psychiatry

Research Summary

Dr. Fernandez's research aims to uncover the genetic and epigenetic basis of multiple childhood neuropsychiatric disorders, including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), ADHD, anxiety disorders, Tourette Syndrome, chronic tic disorders, motor stereotypies, and autism spectrum disorders. The overall goal is to advance our understanding of the biology of these disorders and to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Extensive Research Description

Dr. Fernandez's current focus is to discover which combinations of genes are underlying risk for these disorders in individuals and extended families. There are multiple pathways to this type of discovery, including identification of discrete genetic sequence changes in those with disease (using whole-exome and whole-genome DNA sequencing), detecting deletions and duplications that encompass larger regions of human chromosomes (using DNA sequencing and microarray technologies), and finding markers on DNA that regulate gene expression but do not alter the genetic sequence or structure (i.e. epigenetic markers that are dynamic throughout development). The end goal of this research is to identify networks of genes that increase risk for illness and teach us larger lessons about underlying disease biology that can be leveraged for improving diagnosis and treatment.

Coauthors

Research Interests

Anxiety Disorders; Child Psychiatry; Genetics; Genetics, Behavioral; Tourette Syndrome; Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; Psychiatry; Tic Disorders; Stereotypic Movement Disorder

Public Health Interests

Behavioral Health; Clinical Trials; Genetics, Genomics, Epigenetics; Mental Health; Child/Adolescent Health

Selected Publications

Clinical Trials

ConditionsStudy Title
Child Development & Autism; Diseases of the Nervous System; Genetics - Adult; Genetics - Pediatric; Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchGenetic and molecular studies of developmental neuropsychiatric disorders
Diseases of the Nervous System; Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchNeurofeedback of Amygdala Activity for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Child Development & AutismUnderstanding Neurodevelopment in Autism
Diseases of the Nervous System; Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchBiomarkers of Clinical Subtype and Treatment Response in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Diseases of the Nervous System; Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchNeurofeedback for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder