477-Wetherill, Leah

Leah Wetherill, PhD

Assistant Scientist in Medical & Molecular Genetics

HS 4017
Indianapolis, IN


The primary concentration of Dr. Wetherill’s research and experience is alcohol – understanding the genetic underpinnings of alcohol dependence, the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure, and the role that genetics plays in phenotypic variation associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.  Dr. Wetherill is particularly interested in dissecting the effects due to alcohol exposure from genetic heritability, on outcomes such as externalizing disorders.  Dr. Wetherill also belongs to the core research team of the Indiana Alcohol Research Center, and provides statistical support for their pharmacogenetic studies of alcohol consumption and dependence.

Dr. Wetherill is very involved with many aspects of genetic counseling.  She has worked extensively with genetic counselors in the Hereditary Genomics Division to help improve their understanding of the impact of learning genetic test results.  She is also quite active in the Indiana Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, teaching and mentoring Masters students who are part of the program.  Dr. Wetherill also teaches several lectures as well as the Population Genetics course. 

Key Publications

Wetherill, L, Lai D, Johnson EC, Anokhin A, Bauer L, Bucholz KK, Dick DM, Hariri AR, Hesselbrock V, Kamarajan C, Kramer J, Kuperman S, Meyers JL, Nurnberger JI Jr, Schuckit M, Scott DM, Taylor RE, Tischfield J, Porjesz B, Goate AM, Edenberg HJ, Foroud T, Bogdan R, Agrawal A. Genome-wide association study identifies loci associated with liability to alcohol and drug dependence that is associated with variability in reward-related ventral striatum activity in African- and European-Americans, Genes Brain Behav. 2019 May 17:e12580. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12580.

Lai D, Wetherill L, Bertelsen S, Carey CE, Kamarajan C, Kapoor M, Meyers JL, Anokhin AP, Bennett DA, Bucholz KK, Chang KK, De Jager PL, Dick DM, Hesselbrock V, Kramer J, Kuperman S, Nurnberger JI Jr, Raj T, Schuckit M, Scott DM, Taylor RE, Tischfield J, Hariri AR, Edenberg HJ, Agrawal A, Bogdan R, Porjesz B, Goate AM, Foroud T. Genome-wide association studies of alcohol dependence, DSM-IV criterion count and individual criteria.  Genes Brain Behav. 2019 May 14. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12579

Plawecki MH, Durrani AM, Boes J, Wetherill L, Kosobud A, O'Connor S, Ramchandani VA.  Comparison of subjective responses to oral and intravenous alcohol administration under similar systemic exposures.  Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2019 Apr;43(4):597-606. doi: 10.1111/acer.13970.

Wetherill L, Foroud T, Goodlett C.  Meta-analyses of externalizing disorders: genetics or prenatal alcohol exposure? Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2018 Jan;42(1):162-172. doi: 10.1111/acer.13535. Epub 2017 Nov 27. PMID: 29063614

Wetherill L, Agrawal A, Kapoor M, Bertelsen S, Bierut LJ, Brooks A, Dick D, Hesselbrock M, Hesselbrock V, Koller DL, Le N, Nurnberger JI Jr, Salvatore JE, Schuckit M, Tischfield JA, Wang JC, Xuei X, Edenberg HJ, Porjesz B, Bucholz K, Goate AM, Foroud T. Association of substance dependence phenotypes in the COGA sample. Addict Biol. 2015 May;20(3):617-27. doi: 10.1111/adb.12153.

Foroud T, Smith D, Jackson J, Verbrugge J, Halter C, Wetherill L, Sims K, Xin W, Arnedo V, Lasch S, Marek K, the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative.  Novel recruitment strategy to enrich for LRRK2 mutation carriers.  Molecular Genetics and Genomic Medicine. 2015 Sep; 3(5); 404-12.

Titles & Appointments

  • Assistant Scientist in Medical & Molecular Genetics
  • PhD
  • Education
    2018 PhD Purdue University
    1998 MS Purdue University
    1998 BA Olivet Nazarene University
    1995 MS Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
    1994 MA Indiana University

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