Justin Tubbs studied biology and psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, where my interest in psychiatric genetics was sparked through my work with Drs. Jeanne Savage, Amy Adkins, and Danielle Dick. Afterwards, he completed a post-baccalaureate fellowship at the NCCIH, where he contributed to studies examining the psychological and physiological mechanisms of pain and affective touch. Justin’s PhD studies at The University of Hong Kong with Prof. Pak Sham have focused on developing and applying methods for estimating genetic nurture, as well as identifying genetic risk factors for complex traits including depression and psychosis. Justin is looking forward to the next stage of his journey as a T32 fellow in Dr. Jordan Smoller’s lab.

In his free time, he enjoys traveling, cooking, and music.

Leveraging genomics and big health data to advance precision psychiatry

My proposed research will contribute towards the monumental challenge of translating findings from psychiatric genetics and epidemiology into clinical practice. Building on foundational results from basic research and existing translational attempts, I aim to construct clinically useful predictive models for psychiatric disorders. Specifically, I plan to leverage advances in statistics and machine learning to combine the rich data contained in increasingly large biobanks, including electronic health records, genomics, and neuroimaging. Ideally, these comprehensive models could be employed in the clinic to help classify patients into meaningful subgroups based on treatment-response, symptom presentation, or illness course. Secondarily, these models may provide insights into the underlying biopsychosocial risk factors of common mental health disorders. Ultimately, such models could reduce the global burden of psychiatric disease by improving prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies.