Skip to content

Principal Investigator

Photo of Francis McMahon

Francis McMahon, M.D.

Biography

Dr. McMahon received a BA in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982 and an MD from Johns Hopkins in 1987, where he also completed a medical internship, a residency in adult psychiatry, and a post-doctoral fellowship in genetics. In 1998, he moved to the University of Chicago, where he continued his research into the genetics of bipolar disorder while serving as Medical Director of the electroconvulsive therapy clinic. In 2002, he joined the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Intramural Research Program as Chief of its genetics unit. In 2010, he was promoted to Senior Investigator and Chief of the Human Genetics Branch. He is also a visiting Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. McMahon’s research is aimed at discovering and characterizing genes involved in mood and anxiety disorders so that better methods of diagnosis and treatment can be developed.

Dr. McMahon is past President of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics and a Fellow in the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. He serves on the editorial boards of Biological Psychiatry, International Review of Psychiatry, and Molecular Neuropsychiatry, and is a scientific advisor for the American Society for the Prevention of Suicide and the Rutgers University Cell & DNA Repository. He has received several awards for his work, including the 2016 Colvin Mood Disorders Prize from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. He has authored over 200 scientific reports and textbook chapters.

Research Interests

Our mission is to identify the genes that contribute to the risk for mood and anxiety disorders so that better methods of diagnosis and treatment can be developed.

Mood and anxiety disorders reflect a complex genetic architecture ranging from common alleles conferring modest risk for what may prove to be a broad range of psychopathology, to alleles that help shape the clinical picture of disease and response to treatment. Rarer alleles may also exist that confer larger risk in a fraction of individuals and families. If even a few of these alleles can be firmly identified, new windows into the pathobiology of common psychiatric disorders may be opened, enabling the development of new methods of diagnosis and treatment. 

Selected Publications

Jiang X, Detera-Wadleigh SD, Akula N, Mallon BS, Hou L, Xiao T, Felsenfeld G, Gu X, McMahon FJ (2019). Sodium valproate rescues expression of TRANK1 in iPSC-derived neural cells that carry a genetic variant associated with serious mental illness. Mol Psychiatry 24, 613-624. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-018-0207-1. [Pubmed Link]

Hou L, Heilbronner U, Degenhardt F, Adli M, Akiyama K, Akula N, Ardau R, Arias B, Backlund L, Banzato CE, Benabarre A, Bengesser S, Bhattacharjee AK, Biernacka JM, Birner A, Brichant-Petitjean C, Bui ET, Cervantes P, Chen GB, Chen HC, Chillotti C, Cichon S, Clark SR, Colom F, Cousins DA, Cruceanu C, Czerski PM, Dantas CR, Dayer A, Étain B, Falkai P, Forstner AJ, Frisén L, Fullerton JM, Gard S, Garnham JS, Goes FS, Grof P, Gruber O, Hashimoto R, Hauser J, Herms S, Hoffmann P, Hofmann A, Jamain S, Jiménez E, Kahn JP, Kassem L, Kittel-Schneider S, Kliwicki S, König B, Kusumi I, Lackner N, Laje G, Landén M, Lavebratt C, Leboyer M, Leckband SG, Jaramillo CA, MacQueen G, Manchia M, Martinsson L, Mattheisen M, McCarthy MJ, McElroy SL, Mitjans M, Mondimore FM, Monteleone P, Nievergelt CM, Nöthen MM, Ösby U, Ozaki N, Perlis RH, Pfennig A, Reich-Erkelenz D, Rouleau GA, Schofield PR, Schubert KO, Schweizer BW, Seemüller F, Severino G, Shekhtman T, Shilling PD, Shimoda K, Simhandl C, Slaney CM, Smoller JW, Squassina A, Stamm T, Stopkova P, Tighe SK, Tortorella A, Turecki G, Volkert J, Witt S, Wright A, Young LT, Zandi PP, Potash JB, DePaulo JR, Bauer M, Reininghaus EZ, Novák T, Aubry JM, Maj M, Baune BT, Mitchell PB, Vieta E, Frye MA, Rybakowski JK, Kuo PH, Kato T, Grigoroiu-Serbanescu M, Reif A, Del Zompo M, Bellivier F, Schalling M, Wray NR, Kelsoe JR, Alda M, Rietschel M, McMahon FJ, Schulze TG (2016). Genetic variants associated with response to lithium treatment in bipolar disorder: a genome-wide association study. Lancet 387, 1085-93. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00143-4. [Pubmed Link]

Hou L, Bergen SE, Akula N, Song J, Hultman CM, Landén M, Adli M, Alda M, Ardau R, Arias B, Aubry JM, Backlund L, Badner JA, Barrett TB, Bauer M, Baune BT, Bellivier F, Benabarre A, Bengesser S, Berrettini WH, Bhattacharjee AK, Biernacka JM, Birner A, Bloss CS, Brichant-Petitjean C, Bui ET, Byerley W, Cervantes P, Chillotti C, Cichon S, Colom F, Coryell W, Craig DW, Cruceanu C, Czerski PM, Davis T, Dayer A, Degenhardt F, Del Zompo M, DePaulo JR, Edenberg HJ, Étain B, Falkai P, Foroud T, Forstner AJ, Frisén L, Frye MA, Fullerton JM, Gard S, Garnham JS, Gershon ES, Goes FS, Greenwood TA, Grigoroiu-Serbanescu M, Hauser J, Heilbronner U, Heilmann-Heimbach S, Herms S, Hipolito M, Hitturlingappa S, Hoffmann P, Hofmann A, Jamain S, Jiménez E, Kahn JP, Kassem L, Kelsoe JR, Kittel-Schneider S, Kliwicki S, Koller DL, König B, Lackner N, Laje G, Lang M, Lavebratt C, Lawson WB, Leboyer M, Leckband SG, Liu C, Maaser A, Mahon PB, Maier W, Maj M, Manchia M, Martinsson L, McCarthy MJ, McElroy SL, McInnis MG, McKinney R, Mitchell PB, Mitjans M, Mondimore FM, Monteleone P, Mühleisen TW, Nievergelt CM, Nöthen MM, Novák T, Nurnberger JI, Nwulia EA, Ösby U, Pfennig A, Potash JB, Propping P, Reif A, Reininghaus E, Rice J, Rietschel M, Rouleau GA, Rybakowski JK, Schalling M, Scheftner WA, Schofield PR, Schork NJ, Schulze TG, Schumacher J, Schweizer BW, Severino G, Shekhtman T, Shilling PD, Simhandl C, Slaney CM, Smith EN, Squassina A, Stamm T, Stopkova P, Streit F, Strohmaier J, Szelinger S, Tighe SK, Tortorella A, Turecki G, Vieta E, Volkert J, Witt SH, Wright A, Zandi PP, Zhang P, Zollner S, McMahon FJ (2016). Genome-wide association study of 40,000 individuals identifies two novel loci associated with bipolar disorder. Hum Mol Genet 25, 3383-3394. https://doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddw181. [Pubmed Link]

Akula N, Barb J, Jiang X, Wendland JR, Choi KH, Sen SK, Hou L, Chen DT, Laje G, Johnson K, Lipska BK, Kleinman JE, Corrada-Bravo H, Detera-Wadleigh S, Munson PJ, McMahon FJ (2014) RNA-sequencing of the brain transcriptome implicates dysregulation of neuroplasticity, circadian rhythms and GTPase binding in bipolar disorder. Mol Psychiatry 19:1179-85. [Pubmed Link]

Chen DT, Jiang X, Akula N, Shugart YY, Wendland JR, Steele CJ, Kassem L, Park JH, Chatterjee N, Jamain S, Cheng A, Leboyer M, Muglia P, Schulze TG, Cichon S, Nöthen MM, Rietschel M, McMahon FJ, Farmer A, McGuffin P, Craig I, Lewis C, Hosang G, Cohen-Woods S, Vincent JB, Kennedy JL, Strauss J (2013). Genome-wide association study meta-analysis of European and Asian-ancestry samples identifies three novel loci associated with bipolar disorder. Mol Psychiatry 18, 195-205. https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2011.157. [Pubmed Link]


Porter Bldg, Room 1A201, MSC 3719
BETHESDA, MD 20814

Phone: +1 301 451 4455
Fax: +1 304 402 9081

mcmahonf@mail.nih.gov