Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D.
Stanford School of Medicine, 1977, MD
Nosology of Psychiatric Disorders
Genetics of Psychiatric and Drug Abuse Disorders
The major focus of my research is in the genetics of psychiatric and substance abuse disorders. Two major methodologies are used in this research. The first involves large population based twin samples. In these twins, we address the aggregate role of genetic and environmental factors. We seek to understand how these factors interact and correlate, and how, through development, the vulnerability to psychiatric illness and drug abuse is expressed. I have focused my work with twin samples from Virginia – in particular the Virginia Adult Twin Study of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders – but also worked with twin samples from Norway, Sweden and Holland. My work has focused on a wide range of disorders including major depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, externalizing behaviors, alcoholism, and drug abuse. I have worked a lot toward understanding the genetic and environmental sources of comorbidity of psychiatric and substance use disorders. My work has recently focused on developmental models, models examining the structure of genetic and environmental risk factors for DSM disorders examined at the criteria level and the sources of cross-generational transmission of risk to drug abuse and criminality.
The second major research strategy that I work with is molecular genetics. I am closely involved in molecular genetics studies of schizophrenia, alcoholism, major depression and nicotine dependence. We have used the strategies of linkage analysis, candidate gene association analysis, but most of the current focus now is on genome wide association and sequence data. I have recently been especially interested in polygene models as applied to GWAS data. I am the PI on an NIHM funded project that involves analysis of the CONVERGE study of major depression. We interviewed 12,000 cases with recurrent depression in China and controls and have low-pass sequence on all subjects. I am also PI on the VCU Alcohol Research Center that focused on gene networks that impact on response to alcohol across multiple invertebrate and vertebrate species including man.
I have an active ongoing interest in psychiatric nosology. I have been heavily involved in the developments of DSM-III-R and DSM-IV and chaired the Scientific Review Committee for DSM-5. I am vice-chair for the APA steering committee to revise DSM-5. Finally, I have a developed interest in the interface between Psychiatry and Philosophy with several paper-writing projects on-going.