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Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch

Branch Chief and Staff

Dr. Kathleen Ries Merikangas is Senior Investigator and Chief of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch in the Intramural Research Program (IRP) at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Prior to joining the NIMH IRP, Dr. Merikangas was a Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, Psychiatry and Psychology at the Yale University School of Medicine, where she served as Director of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Unit in the Department of Public Health.

Dr. Merikangas has been actively engaged in genetic epidemiologic research for more than 15 years. She has been the principal investigator, co-investigator or consultant to numerous federally and non-federally funded research grants. The major areas of her research are:

(1) studies of the patterns and components of familial aggregation of mental disorders and familial mechanisms for comorbidity of mental and medical disorders; (2) identification of early signs and risk factors for psychiatric disorders among high and low risk youth using prospective longitudinal high risk studies; and (3) large scale population based studies of mental disorders including high risk designs and prospective longitudinal research.

Dr. Merikangas is an author of more than 200 scientific publications and has presented lectures throughout the U.S. and in more than 20 countries. She is on the Editorial Board of several scientific journals and has been on the scientific advisory boards of numerous organizations and academic institutions including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Networks on Psychobiology of Affective Disorders and Psychopathology and Development; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research Network on the Etiology of Tobacco Dependence; the Institute of Medicine Panel on Neuroscience and Behavior; and the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, Germany. She recently chaired the Genetics Committee of the NIMH Strategic Plan for Mood Disorders. At NIMH, she is developing a program in genetic epidemiology integrated with statistical genetics and molecular biology to support research in the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program.

Contact Info


Kathleen Merikangas, PhD, Chief, Senior Investigator

Peter Leeds, BS, Laboratory Manager

Clinical Team

Francesca Belouad, MA, Research Psychologist

Claudia Choque, BS, Clinical Interviewer

Rebecca Hommer, MD, Staff Clinician

Tarannum Lateef, MD, MPH, Pediatric Neurologist

Erin Nakamura, MPH, Clinical Epidemiology Research Coordinator

Kathleen O’Leary, MSW, Clinical Advisor

Biostatistics/Data Team

Kwangmi Ahn, PhD, Staff Scientist

Lihong Cui, MS, Biostatistician

Jaclyn Dozier Franco, BA, Data Manager

Jian-Ping He, MS, Biostatistician

Xueping Zhou, MHS, Statistician


Jennifer Glaus, PhD, Visiting Fellow

Jordan Johns, MS, Pre-doctoral IRTA

Alyssa McGraw, BS, NIH Pathways Intern

Diana Paksarian, PhD, Post-doctoral IRTA

Emma Stapp, PhD, Post-doctoral IRTA

Megan Tsui, BS, Post-baccalaureate IRTA

Kailyn Witonsky, BA, Post-baccalaureate IRTA

Yao Xiao, BS, Post-baccalaureate IRTA

Emily Yuen, NIH Pathways Intern