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Francis J. McMahon, M.D.

Genetic Basis of Mood and Anxiety Disorders Unit, NIMH
Building 35 Room 1A-202
35 Convent Drive MSC3719
Bethesda MD 20892
Office: (301) 451-4455
Lab: (301) 451-4453
Fax: (301) 402-7094

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.

Our mission is to determine the human genetic variation that contributes to the risk for mood and anxiety disorders such as bipolar disorder and panic disorder, so that better methods of diagnosis and treatment can be developed.

We are recruiting families with multiple cases of mood disorder for use in genetic mapping studies. Volunteers are asked to provide a blood sample and undergo a psychiatric interview, usually over the telephone.

Current research priorities include genome-wide linkage mapping of bipolar susceptibility genes, fine-mapping bipolar disorder susceptibility loci on chromosomes 6q, 13q, 18q, and 22q; identification of clinical features that define highly familial clinical subtypes of mood disorders; the elucidation of parent-of-origin effects in the familial transmission of mood disorders; and candidate gene studies of the serotonin transporter, glucocorticoid receptor, and nuclear receptor genes. We also study patterns of linkage disequilibrium and "haplotype blocks" in the human genome.

Clinical Protocols:

  • Bipolar Disorder Genetics: A Collaborative Study ( 80-M-0083 )

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  • Nirmala Akula, M.S., Ph.D.

  • Emily K. Besançon, LICSW, LPC
    Clinical Research Coordinator

  • Meghan C.C Blattner, M.A.
    Clinical Researcher

  • Winston Corona, M.S.
    Research Assistant

  • Joanna Cross, D.Phil.
    Postdoctoral Fellow

  • Theresa B. DeGuzman, B.S.
    Database and Sample Inventory Manager

  • Sevilla Detera-Wadleigh, Ph.D.
    Staff Scientist

  • Girma W. Hawariat, Ph.D.
    Statistician and Quantitative Geneticist

  • Xueying Jiang, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Layla Kassem, Ph.D., Psy.D

  • Fabiana L Lopes, M.D., Ph.D.
    Research Fellow

  • Christopher Song, B.A.
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA Fellow, Research Assistant

  • Lexie Wille, B.S.
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA Fellow, Research Assistant

  • 1) Hou L, Kember RL, Roach JC, O'Connell JR, Craig DW, Bucan M, Scott WK, Pericak-Vance M, Haines JL, Crawford MH, Shuldiner AR, McMahon FJ (2017)
  • A population-specific reference panel empowers genetic studies of Anabaptist populations
  • Sci Rep, 2017 Jul 20;7(1):6079. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-054
  • 2) International Consortium on Lithium Genetics (ConLi+Gen), Amare AT, Schubert KO, Hou L, Clark SR, Papiol S, Heilbronner U, Degenhardt F, Tekola-Ayele F, Hsu YH, Shekhtman T, Adli M, Akula N, Akiyama K, Ardau R, Arias B, Aubry JM, Backlund L, Bhattacharjee AK, Bellivier F, Benabarre A, Bengesser S, Biernacka JM, Birner A, Brichant-Petitjean C, Cervantes P, Chen HC, Chillotti C, Cichon S, Cruceanu C, Czerski PM, Dalkner N, Dayer A, Del Zompo M, DePaulo JR, Étain B, Falkai P, Forstner AJ, Frisen L, Frye MA, Fullerton JM, Gard S, Garnham JS, Goes FS, Grigoroiu-Serbanescu M, Grof P, Hashimoto R, Hauser J, Herms S, Hoffmann P, Hofmann A, Jamain S, Jiménez E, Kahn JP, Kassem L, Kuo PH, Kato T, Kelsoe J, Kittel-Schneider S, Kliwicki S, König B, Kusumi I, Laje G, Landén M, Lavebratt C, Leboyer M, Leckband SG, Tortorella A, Manchia M, Martinsson L, McCarthy MJ, McElroy S, Colom F, Mitjans M, Mondimore FM, Monteleone P, Nievergelt CM, Nöthen MM, Novák T, O'Donovan C, Ozaki N, Ösby U, Pfennig A, Potash JB, Reif A, Reininghaus E, Rouleau GA, Rybakowski JK, Schalling M, Schofield PR, Schweizer BW, Severino G, Shilling PD, Shimoda K, Simhandl C, Slaney CM, Squassina A, Stamm T, Stopkova P, Maj M, Turecki G, Vieta E, Volkert J, Witt S, Wright A, Zandi PP, Mitchell PB, Bauer M, Alda M, Rietschel M, McMahon FJ, Schulze TG, Baune BT (2017)
  • Association of Polygenic Score for Schizophrenia and HLA Antigen and Inflammation Genes With Response to Lithium in Bipolar Affective Disorder: A Genome-Wide Association Study
  • JAMA Psychiatry, 2017 Nov 9. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.3433.
  • 3) 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 Jr, 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, 2016 Aug 1;25(15):3383-3394. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddw1
  • 4) Cardenas SA, Kassem L, Brotman MA, Leibenluft E, McMahon (2016)
  • Neurocognitive functioning in euthymic patients with bipolar disorder and unaffected relatives: A review of the literature
  • Neurosci Biobehav Rev, 2016 Oct;69:193-215. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016
  • 5) Gill KE, Cardenas SA, Kassem L, Schulze TG, McMahon FJ (2016)
  • Symptom profiles and illness course among Anabaptist and Non-Anabaptist adults with major mood disorders
  • Int J Bipolar Disord, 2016 Dec;4(1):21. Epub 2016 Oct 12. PubMed PMID: 2
  • 6) Lopes FL, Hou L, Boldt AB, Kassem L, Alves VM, Nardi AE, McMahon FJ (2016)
  • Finding Rare, Disease-Associated Variants in Isolated Groups: Potential Advantages of Mennonite Populations
  • Hum Biol, 2016 Apr;88(2):109-120. PubMed PMID: 28162000
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