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September 2022       Cheyanne rotates in the lab!

Cheyanne Lewis, Bachelor of Science

Rockstar Cheyanne Lewis rotates in our lab as an incoming Neurosciences PhD student.  Cheyanne brings an exceptional scientific mindset, can-do attitude, and a wealth of experience in techniques relevant to her mini-project, which kicks off our investigation of genetics-identified targets in human postmortem brain tissue.  Lots of great things to come from Cheyanne, and we welcome her to Stanford! 

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October 2022     AWARD

Dr. Duncan awarded the Jaswa Innovator Award

Congratulations Dr. Duncan on being chosen for the Jaswa Innovator Award! This award is designed for early stage investigators interested in bold, high-risk projects to further our understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. The project will be dedicated to identifying the molecular pathology of schizophrenia through data-driven, genomics-informed investigation of human brain tissue. 


August 2022       Presentation

Katy presentation at annual Stanford Bio-X Conference

Congratulations Katy on presenting at the Stanford Bio-X conference! Katy presented on the functional interpretation of hot flash GWAS. Great job!


November 2021       Lab Retreat

IMHL Lab takes retreat to Monterey, CA

Hanyang, Katy, Tayden, Ciera, Dr. Duncan, Erik, and Cody were able to take a lab retreat to Monterey, CA, including a fun afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a stroll along the beach. We wished the rest of the lab members could have been there. For those who were able to go, it was a great time to connect and get to know each other! 


October 2021       AWARD

Madeleine Salem awarded Stanford Grant

Congrats Madeleine!   Madeleine’s project is to computationally develop a pipeline for improved analysis of genetic sequences associated with certain mental illnesses. This project involves foundational statistical analysis methods including genome wide association studies (GWAS), polygenic scoring, and MAGMA pathway analyses. Through investigating the genetic architecture of schizophrenia and depression, Madeleine’s work will aid in making novel discoveries about biological mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders and how these mechanisms influence the onset of psychiatric disorders.


September 2021       Presentation

Dr. Duncan presentation at Stanley Center

Dr. Duncan presented at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute on hot flashes as a model phenotype for the study of polygenic brain phenotypes. 


August 2021       Ciera joins the lab!

Ciera Stafford, Bachelor of Science

Ciera is a Research Assistant who recently graduated with her Bachelor's from the University of Oklahoma, where she worked on analyzing Fragile X Syndrome data in the Brain and Biomarker Lab. She is passionate about mental health research and advocacy. In her free time, she enjoys talking to people, reading political fiction and, true to her Alaskan roots, doing anything outdoors. 


July 2021       CONGRATS!!!

Jacob Reiter graduates, starts at Verily

Congratulations to Jacob for graduating from Stanford University with his Masters of Science in Computer Science (Biocomputation) and starting a new job at Verily Life Sciences as an Associate Product Manager!


July 2021       R21 GRANT

R21 - PI Duncan

Dr. Duncan was awarded an R21 grant to conduct sex chromosome GWAS of psychiatric disorders to further understanding of sex and gender effects on psychiatric disorders. This work will analyze PTSD samples, which have the most robust evidence for sex differences of all adult psychiatric disorders.

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April 2021       Rising Star Presentation

Dr. Duncan presentation at SoBP

At the Society for Biological Psychiatry, Dr. Laramie Duncan presented in the "Rising Star" session on work connecting menopause-related symptoms (such as hot flashes) to depression.  The TACR3 locus, identified here and previously, is one of the best examples of translatable genetics findings: antagonists for the neurokinin B receptor (the product of the TACR3 gene) are effective treatments for hot flashes.  Thanks to trainees Joeri Meijsen PhD (now postdoc in Denmark), Hanyang Shen, and Katy Werwarth for terrific work on this project!  

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February 2021       AWARD

Madeleine Salem awarded Bio-X summer fellowship


Congrats Madeleine!   Madeleine’s project is to computationally develop a pipeline for improved analysis of genetic sequences associated with certain mental illnesses. This project involves foundational statistical analysis methods including genome wide association studies (GWAS), polygenic scoring, and MAGMA pathway analyses. Through investigating the genetic architecture of schizophrenia and depression, Madeleine’s work will aid in making novel discoveries about biological mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders and how these mechanisms influence the onset of psychiatric disorders.


2020       Madeleine joins the lab!

Madeleine Salem, Stanford University


Madeleine is a freshman at Stanford and has persevered during an unprecedented virtual freshman year, due to the pandemic.  We look forward to welcoming her to on-campus life in the coming months! 


2020       Tayden joins the lab!

Tayden Li, Stanford University


Tayden is a junior at Stanford majoring in math and computational science (MCS). He is passionate about medicine and mental health and is especially interested in applying computational tools to discover how genes impact our behavior and mental wellbeing. He also serves as a preclinical volunteer chair and a Mandarin interpreter chair at Stanford’s Pacific Free Clinic as well as a social chair at Taiwanese Cultural Society. In his free time, he loves to watch shows like Bojack Horseman that have interesting perspectives on well-being and psychiatric disorders.

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2020       Katy joins the lab!

Katy Werwath, Stanford University 


Katy is a sophomore at Stanford studying CS on the biocomputation track. She is passionate about mental health and is fascinated by how genes can translate into abstract emotions and behaviors. She’s also a peer counselor at The Bridge, an outreach intern for Stanford’s Society of Women Engineers, and a tutor-mentor for East Palo Alto middle schoolers. When not up late coding, you can find her walking her poodle, paddle boarding in the Bay, and watching way too much of The Great British Baking Show!

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August 2020       R01 GRANT

R01 - PI Duncan


Dr. Duncan was awarded a 5 year R01 grant to study sex hormone effects on PTSD and related psychiatric disorders.  This work leverages the UK Biobank dataset of approximately 500,000 participants to test hypotheses about endogenous and exogenous (hormone medication) effects.

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August 2020       CONGRATS!!!

Bryna Cooper Dissertation defense


Bryna successfully defended her dissertation: "SEX DIFFERENCES IN POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS SYMPTOM EXPRESSION:


We are so proud of Bryna and are excited to see her work in print.


2020       Jacob joins the lab!

Jacob Reiter, Stanford University Graduate Student


Jacob Reiter is a graduate researcher at IMHL and current Stanford grad student in computer science (biocomputation track). His undergrad at Stanford was in Symbolic Systems. He is passionate about applying novel computational techniques towards mental illness. His previous work included developing an interpretable schizophrenia classifier on brain imaging data. He also serves as the Stanford MSCS mental health information network representative. For fun, Jacob reads literature on botany and watches inordinate amounts of "Survivor." 


April 2020       AWARD

Chairman's Award: Advancing Science 2020


Dr. Duncan received the Chairman's Award for Advancing Science in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University.

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January 2020 PAPER

Shen et al. Neuropsychopharmacology

We report findings from the largest psychiatric GWAS in South America to date and provide summary statistics for depression, PTSD, and suicidal ideation/self-harm in this Peruvian sample.  Out now in Neuropsychopharmacology (new journal name: NPP). Congrats to Hanyang especially and thanks to awesome collaborators: Drs. Bizu Gelaye, Marta Rondon, Sixto Sanchez, and Hailiang Huang!

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Early 2020 - CONGRATS on Acceptances in top programs!!!

Bryna Cooper                           

Harvard / Massachussetts Mental Health Center         

Clinical Psychology Internship      


Early 2020 - CONGRATS on Acceptances in top programs!!!

Hanyang Shen     


Stanford PhD Program          



Early 2020 - CONGRATS on Acceptances in top programs!!!

Benson Kung     


Stanford Masters co-term Program          

Computer Science      



November 2019 GRANT

Benson Kung

Congrats to Benson Kung for being awarded an Undergraduate Research Grant from Stanford for his work using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning to improve understanding of psychiatric disorder symptom trajectories.

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October 2019 PAPER 

Peterson et al...Duncan (senior author) Cell

This "leading edge" primer from Cell provides best practices for the analysis of genomic data from diverse populations.  This is the flagship paper our Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) Cross-Population Special Interest Group (chairs Duncan, Huang, and Peterson), and it was made possible via collaborative efforts from multiple leading statistical genetics experts around the globe.



August 2019 Presentation

Alex Bhatt

Summer undergraduate research student Alex Bhatt presented at the poster session.  Congrats Alex!!

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July 2019 PAPER

Duncan et al. (2019) Nature Communications

Our recent work in demonstrates that polygenic scoring studies have overwhelmingly included European ancestry populations.  Moreover, polygenic scores perform poorly in many populations as a result of the limited ancestral diversity in many medical genetics studies combined with differences in allele frequencies and linkage disequilibrium patterns.



June 2019 AWARD

Dr. Duncan 

Dr. Duncan received an award for excellence in teaching from the Stanford Psychiatry Residents.

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April 2019 PAPER

Duncan, Ostacher, & Ballon (2019) Neuropsychopharmacology

Using an analytical approach and schizophrenia GWAS results, our new piece demonstrates, 'How genome-wide association studies (GWAS) made traditional candidate gene studies obsolete'. 



December 2018 PAPER

Duncan, Cooper, & Shen (2018) Current Psychiatry Reports

For a concise review of what is known about PTSD genetics, see our lab's recent review, 'Robust Findings from 25 Years of PTSD Genetics Research' in Current Psychiatry Reports.  Scope Blog coverage here.



November 2018 GRANT

WHSDM seed grant awarded (PI Duncan)

Our work investigating the causes of differences in PTSD, between women and men, was awarded a seed grant from WHSDM at Stanford.  Building upon our previous work with the international Psychiatric Genomics Consortium's PTSD group, we will be testing hypotheses about differing genetic risk factors in women and men, which can ultimately be leveraged to improve the treatment and prevention of trauma-related disorders.

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October 2018 PAPER

Kimerling, Allen, & Duncan (2018) Current Psychiatry Reports

We are delighted to share this comprehensive overview of multi-level influences on PTSD risk, across sex and gender (lead author Dr. Rachel Kimerling).  See 'Chromosomes to Social Contexts: Sex and Gender Differences in PTSD' in Current Psychiatry Reports.



October 2018:      PAPER

Duncan et al. (2018) Schizophrenia Bulletin

Genetic correlation analyses reveal relationships between schizophrenia and personality traits (openness to experience and neuroticism) and also suggest a novel underlying pathway involving citrate.  Intriguingly, this mechanism may link polygenic forms of schizophrenia (encompassing most cases) with rare instances caused by 22q11.2 deletions.  This work was in collaboration with the INSPIRE early psychosis team; paper download here.



June 2018 PAPER

Brainstorm Consortium (2018) Science

Analysis of over 1 million individuals revealed that psychiatric and neurological disorders are relatively genetically distinct from one another.  This analysis also supports previous findings of shared genetic effects across psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.  Popular media coverage is available: Scientific American, The Economist.  Congrats especially to Verneri Antilla (lead author).

September 2017:     VIDEO spotlight

American Journal of Psychiatry website

Dr. Daniel Pine, of the American Journal of Psychiatry highlights an article titled "Significant Locus and Metabolic Genetic Correlations Revealed in Genome-Wide Association Study of Anorexia Nervosa" by Laramie Duncan, Ph.D., and colleagues.

September 2017 AJP editor spotlight video on YouTube.

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July 2017:     TEACHING

Global Initiative for Neuropsychiatric Genetics Education in Research (GINGER)

Scholars from multiple African nations gathered in Boston in for the GINGER program, which is a collaboration between the Harvard Chan School, the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and multiple African universities and institutes.  Our lab contributed lectures for the event and it was exciting to meet these talented researchers.


May 2017:     PAPER


Duncan et al (2017) American Journal of Psychiatry

This flagship publication of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) Eating Disorders group identified the first genetic variant associated with anorexia nervosa and revealed shared biology between very low body weight (in anorexia) and high body weight (obesity). This was the most powerful genome-wide association study of anorexia to date.  Via identification of metabolic factors sharing genetic influences with anorexia, this work encourages re-conceptualization of anorexia as a disorder with both psychiatric and metabolic etiology. 


May 2017:   GRANT

Quantifying Individual Genetic Risk in Diverse Populations



This grant supports work that will quantify the performance of polygenic scores in diverse populations, test population genetics based hypotheses about predictive performance, and identify best practices in the application of polygenic risk scores to diverse populations. Dr. Benjamin Domingue is co-PI on the study, and collaborators are Dr. Johathan Pritchard, Dr. Booil Jo, and Hanyang Shen.

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