Joseph L McClay, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacotherapy & Outcomes Science
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  •   Smith Building
  • School of Pharmacy
    Dept of Pharmacotherapy & Outcomes Science

    410 N 12th Street
    P.O. Box 980533
    Richmond, VA 23298-0533
  •  (804) 828-3428
I am interested in understanding the genetic regulatory determinants of drug response through the study of chromatin, the complex of DNA and protein in the cell nucleus. My lab uses the tools of epigenomics and functional genomics to understand how epigenetic variation influences drug response and, in turn, how drugs and toxins may affect the epigenome. For example, we are currently funded by the National Institute on Aging to study how epigenetic changes in normal aging affect rates of drug metabolism. We collaborate with colleagues in the VCU School of Medicine to study epigenetic mechanisms of response to central nervous system (CNS) drugs such as ketamine, in addition to epigenetic effects of toxins such as organophosphate. Finally, we have received several grants to study brain transcription factors. We have started to evaluate the possibility of drugging these factors and their wider regulatory networks as a means to treat CNS disorders. Please feel free to contact me about potential research openings in my lab, including undergraduate and PharmD internships/electives, PharmD summer fellowships, graduate student and postdoctoral positions.

Area of Focus

  • Pharmacogenetics and genomics
  • Functional genomics
  • Psychiatric genetics
  • Pharmacoepigenetics


  • Ph.D., Biochemistry (King's College London, 2003)
  • B.S., Genetics (University of York, England, 1997)

Professional Experience

  • (2015 - Present) Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science, VCU School of Pharmacy
  • (2008 - 2015) Research Assistant Professor, Center for Biomarker Research and Personalized Medicine, VCU School of Pharmacy
  • (2006 - 2008) Research Associate, Center for Biomarker Research and Personalized Medicine, VCU School of Pharmacy
  • (2003 - 2006) Postdoctoral Fellow, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, VCU School of Medicine


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  • McClay JL et al., Inventors. Lineagen Inc., Salt Lake City UT, assignee. Metabolomics-based biomarkers for lung function. US patent: US 9823204B2. Priority date 4/1/2010. Granted 11/21/2017.

Recent Publications

  • Kronfol MM, Jahr FM, Dozmorov MG, Phansalkar P, Xie LY, Aberg KA, McRae M, Price ET, Slattum PW, Gerk PM, McClay JL (2020) DNA methylation and histone acetylation changes to cytochrome P450 2E1 regulation in normal aging and impact on rates of drug metabolism in the liver. GeroScience (In Press)
  • Kronfol MM and McClay JL (2019) Epigenetic Biomarkers in Personalized Medicine. Chapter 14 in “Prognostic Epigenetics”, (Shilpy Sharma, Ed), volume 15 in “Translational Epigenetics” Series. Elsevier (Academic Press), Oxford, United Kingdom.
  • Younis RM, Taylor RM, Beardsley PM, McClay JL (2019) The ANKS1B gene and its associated phenotypes: Focus on CNS drug response. Pharmacogenomics 20 (9): 669-684
  • Xia H, Jahr FM, Kim NK, Xie L, Shabalin AA, Bryois J, Sweet DH, Kronfol MM, Palasuberniam P, McRae M, Riley BP, Sullivan PF, van den Oord EJ, McClay JL (2018) Building a schizophrenia genetic network: Transcription Factor 4 regulates genes involved in neuronal development and schizophrenia risk. Human Molecular Genetics 27 (18): 3246-3256
  • Kronfol MM, Dozmorov MG, Huang R, Slattum PW, McClay JL (2017) The role of epigenomics in personalized medicine. Expert Review in Precision Medicine and Drug Development 2 (1): 33-45
  • Enga RM, Rice AC, Weller P, Subler M, Lee D, Hall CP, Windle JJ, Beardsley PM, van den Oord EJ, McClay JL. (2017) Initial characterization of behavior and ketamine response in a mouse knockout of the post-synaptic effector gene Anks1b. Neuroscience Letters 641:26-32
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