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Edenberg Lab

The research lab of Howard J. Edenberg, PhD, focuses on the genetics and genomics of alcoholism, bipolar disorder and other complex diseases. Studies span interrelated areas that extend from genome-wide searches for genes affecting the risk for disease to molecular studies of the mechanisms by which associated variants affect gene expression. Active research also includes studies of the regulation of individual genes, genome-wide studies of expression using microarrays and now RNAseq as well as bioinformatics to bring these areas together.

Active Studies


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Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA)

One major active project is the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA). COGA is using genome-wide association analyses (GWAS), exome sequencing and related techniques to identify DNA variants that affect the risk for alcoholism and related disorders and traits. COGA is also conducting longitudinal studies to determine how genetic variants affect traits during different developmental stages. The Edenberg Lab is also studying how the variants affect gene regulation to understand the mechanisms by which they affect risk and potentially reveal targets for treatment.

Gene Expression in Human Post-Mortem Brains

The Edenberg Lab is studying gene expression in human post-mortem brains, in brain regions from animal models of alcoholism, and in cell lines to better understand the physiology behind alcohol preference and the effects of excessive alcohol intake on the brain. Bioinformatic analyses pull these different types of data together for a richer understanding.

Substance Use Disorders Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium

Another major project is participation in the Substance Use Disorders working group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC-SUD). The PGC-SUD is assembling mega- and meta-analyses in the area of alcohol and other substances of abuse to increase the ability to find genes affecting risk for these disorders.

Current Research Funding

  • Collaborative Studies on the Genetics of Alcoholism
    U10 AA008401-29 (multi-PI: B. Porjesz, H.J. Edenberg, V. Hesselbrock, L. Bierut) NIAAA, 09/01/14-08/31/19

    Identify genes that affect the risk for alcoholism.

    Role: National PI, PI of Indiana Univ site, chairs the Molecular Genetics Committee

  • 7/7 Psychiatric Genomics Consortium Finding actionable variation
    1U01 MH109532-02 (MPI: A. Agrawal, H. Edenberg, J. Gelernter) NIMH, 06/20/2016 – 03/31/2021

    Carry out meta- and mega-analyses of psychiatric- and substance use- disorders, including examining common variants (GWAS) and rare variants (sequencing and CNVs) to identify “actionable” variation via the empirical evaluation of the etiological, clinical, nosological, therapeutic, and biological significance of our genomic findings.

    Role: multiple PI

Recent Publications

A full list of publications by the Edenberg Lab is available on Pub Med.

Breen G, Li Q, Roth BL, O’Donnell P, Didriksen M, Dolmetsch R, O’Reilly PF, Gaspar HA, Manji H, Huebel C, Kelsoe JR, Malhotra D, Bertolino A, Posthuma D, Sklar P, Kapur S, Sullivan PF, Collier DA, Edenberg HJ. (2016) Translating genome-wide association findings into new therapeutics for psychiatry. Nature Neuroscience 19, 1392-1396. PMID: 27786187. PMCID: PMC5676453

Andersen AM, Pietrzak RH, Kranzler HR, Ma L, Zhou H, Liu X, Kramer J, Kuperman S, Edenberg HJ, Nurnberger JI Jr, Rice JP, Tischfield JA, Goate A, Foroud TM, Meyers JL, Porjesz B, Dick DM, Hesselbrock V, Boerwinkle E, Southwick SM, Krystal JH, Weissman MM, Levinson DF, Potash JB, Gelernter J, Han S. (2017) Polygenic Scores for Major Depressive Disorder and Risk of Alcohol Dependence. JAMA Psychiatry 74(11):1153-1160. PMID: 28813562

McClintick J.N., McBride W.J., Bell R.L., Ding Z.-M., Liu Y., Xuei X. & Edenberg H.J., Gene expression changes in the ventral hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex of adolescent alcohol-preferring (P) rats following binge-like-alcohol drinking, Alcohol (2017), doi:10.1016/j.alcohol.2017.09.002.

Sullivan PF, A Agrawal, CM Bulik, OA Andreassen, AD Børglum, G Breen,S Cichon, PhD, HJ Edenberg, SV Faraone, J Gelernter, CA Mathews, MD, CM Nievergelt, JW Smoller, MC O’Donovan, for the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (2017) Psychiatric Genomics: An Update and an Agenda. Am J Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 3. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17030283. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28969442.

Agrawal A, Chou YL, Carey CE, Baranger DAA, Zhang B, Sherva R, Wetherill L, Kapoor M, Wang JC, Bertelsen S, Anokhin AP, Hesselbrock V, Kramer J, Lynskey MT, Meyers JL, Nurnberger JI, Rice JP, Tischfield J, Bierut LJ, Degenhardt L, Farrer LA, Gelernter J, Hariri AR, Heath AC, Kranzler HR, Madden PAF, Martin NG, Montgomery GW, Porjesz B, Wang T, Whitfield JB, Edenberg HJ, Foroud T, Goate AM, Bogdan R, Nelson EC. (2017) Genome-wide association study identifies a novel locus for cannabis dependence.  Mol Psychiatry. 2017 Nov 7. doi: 10.1038/mp.2017.200. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:29112194.

Research Team

6488-Edenberg, Howard

Howard J. Edenberg, PhD

Distinguished Professor

Read Bio Howard J. Edenberg, PhD

12074-McClintick, Jeanette

Jeanette N. McClintick, PhD

Associate Research Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Read Bio Jeanette N. McClintick, PhD

Additional Lab Team Members

Hongmei Gu (Research Technician) is also part of the Edenberg Lab.