Transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illness through research
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 Principal Investigators

Kathleen Merikangas, Ph.D.
Kathleen Merikangas Photo   Dr. Kathleen Ries Merikangas is Senior Investigator and Chief of the Genetic Epidemiology Branch in the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Dr. Merikangas received a bachelor's degree summa cum laude in experimental psychology and music from the University of Notre Dame. She received clinical training through an NIAAA-sponsored master's program and internship at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where she continued to conduct clinical research on the Affective Disorders Clinical Research Unit while she pursued a Ph.D. in chronic disease epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. Through a Career Development Award from the NIMH, she completed postdoctoral training in population genetics/genetic epidemiology at the Yale University School of Medicine, where she joined the faculty and ultimately became a Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, Psychiatry and Psychology and the Director of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Unit in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health.
Research Interests
The major areas of Dr. Merikangas' 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. The major project underway in her research group is a community-based family study of affective spectrum disorders and their overlap with other mental disorders, especially anxiety disorders and medical disorders such as migraine and cardiovascular disease. The goal of this research is to identify the endophenotypes that are closer to the biologic expression of genes underlying these disorders and environmental moderators of genetic expression. Findings from this research are likely to have important implications for targets of prevention and treatment of affective illness.
Representative Selected Recent Publications:
  • Merikangas KR, Avenevoli S, Costello JE, Koretz D, Kessler RC. The national comorbidity survey adolescent supplement (NCS-A): I. Background and measures. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 48(4):367-9, 2009.
  • Lateef, TM, Merikangas, KR, He, J, Kalaydjian, A, Khoromi, S, Knight, E, Nelson, KB. Headache in a national sample of american children: Prevalence and comorbidity. Journal of Child Neurology, 24(5):536-543, 2009.
  • Risch, N, Herrell, R, Lehner, T, Liang, K, Eaves, L, Hoh, J, Griem, A, Kovacs, M, Ott, J, Merikangas, KR. Interaction between the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR), stressful life events, and risk of depression: A meta analysis. JAMA, 203(23): 2462-2471, 2009.
  • Merikangas KR, He J-P, Brody D, Fisher PW, Bourdon K, Koretz D. Prevalence and correlates of mental disorders and services in U.S. children: Results from the NHANES 2001-2004. Pediatrics (in press).
  • Saunders, K, Merikangas, K, Low, NC, Von Korff, M, Kessler, RC. Impact of comorbidity on headache-related disability. Neurology, 70(7):538-547, 2008.
  • Merikangas KR, Akiskal HS, Angst J, Greenberg PE, Hirschfeld RM, Petukhova M, Kessler RC. Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of bipolar spectrum disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 64(5):543-52, 2007.

Bldg. 35, Rm 1A202
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Phone: 301-496-1172
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Fax: 301-480-0278
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This page was last updated January 13, 2011.

 The Division of Intramural Research Programs is within the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) which is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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