The Girgenti Lab @Yale Psychiatry

Our goal

The work in our lab is focused on understanding the causes and consequences of molecular variation in the human brain, and its relevance to neuropsychiatric disease. We take an integrated genomics approach and have considerable experience in cutting-edge genomic profiling methods and bioinformatics. We are pioneering systems biology approaches to study the molecular pathology of stress and addiction disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), alcohol use disorder, and suicidal behavior.

Translating molecular mechanisms to disease etiology

PTSD is a severe, debilitating, and prevalent disorder occurring in the aftermath of significant trauma exposure. The neurobiology of PTSD with regard to trauma-associated genetic, epigenetic, and transcriptional mechanisms is poorly understood and many critical questions remain. Recently, our group published the first large genomic study of the PTSD frontal cortex, one of the key components of the fear neural circuit, arguably among the best-understood circuits in neuroscience.


With the establishment of the VA National PTSD Brain Bank, there is a unique opportunity to advance our knowledge of the molecular biology of  the brain and identify the biological underpinnings of neuropsychiatric disorders. The combination of genetic, transcriptomic, and epigenetic datasets generated from postmortem human brain regions and corresponding patient-derived cell lines offer an unprecedented opportunity to discover mechanisms, novel drug targets and therapies for these disorders. This approach can also address the molecular basis for co-morbidities such as major depression and suicide in the brain. At a translational level, this will be immensely beneficial in preventing PTSD patients from suicidal ideation and attempts. Furthermore, research with trauma-resilient subject brains will point us toward biomarkers and mechanisms of resilience to physical and psychological trauma within the brain.