John R. Kelsoe, MD 



Contact Information

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA  92093-0603
T: (858) 534-5927
F: (858) 822-1490


Dr. Kelsoe graduated from medical school at the University of Alabama, Birmingham in 1981. He completed internship training at Washington University in St. Louis and psychiatry residency at UC San Diego. He then went to the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland for 4 years and returned to San Diego to join the Department of Psychiatry faculty in 1989.

Research Interests

Research Focus

Dr. Kelsoe’s longstanding research focus has been the genetics of psychiatric illness, bipolar disorder in particular. Over the past 20 years, his work has been focused on using a variety of molecular genetic methods to identify the specific genes that predispose to bipolar disorder. He has pursued this primarily by using positional cloning methods such as linkage and association in families in which the illness is genetically transmitted. He has also employed animal models of bipolar disorder in order to identify possible candidate genes that can then be tested in clinical populations. This approach has led to the recent identification of the gene for G protein receptor kinase 3 (GRK3) as a likely gene for bipolar disorder on chromosome 22. Dr. Kelsoe is currently actively engaged in genome wide association studies of bipolar disorder. He directs the Bipolar Genome Study (BiGS) which is a 13-site consortium focused on identifying genes for bipolar disorder and their relationship to clinical symptoms. He also co-directs the Psychiatric GWAS Consortium for Bipolar Disorder (PGC-BD) which is an international collaborative effort designed to identify genes for bipolar disorder in a sample of over 10,000 patients. These large exciting new technological approaches promise great advances in understanding the causes of bipolar disorder.

Clinical Focus

Dr. Kelsoe’s primary clinical focus is the treatment of refractory mood disorders. He is the Medical Director of the STEP Clinic at the VA Hospital where they specialize in the treatment of chronic and refractory mood disorders. Patients at this clinic receive a thorough diagnostic evaluation and are eligible to participate in longitudinal research studies of the ability of genes to predict course, outcome, and treatment response.


  • Joo EJ, Greenwood TA, Schork N, McKinney R, Sadovnick AD, Remick RA, Keck PE, McElroy SL, Kelsoe JR. Suggestive evidence for linkage of ADHD features in bipolar disorder to chromosome 10p14. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet, 9999:1–9, 2009 Jul 14 PMID: 19603423
  • Smith EN, Bloss CS, Badner JA, Barrett T, Belmonte PL, Berrettini W, Byerley W, Coryell W, Craig D, Edenberg HJ, Foroud T, Gabriel SB, Gershon E, Greenwood TA, Hipolito M, Koller DL, Lawson WB, Liu C, Lohoff F, McInnis MG, McMahon FJ, Mirel DB, Nievergelt C, Nurnberger J, Nwulia EA, Paschall J, Potash JB, Rice J, Schulze TG, Scheftner W, Panganiban C, Zaitlen N, Zandi PP, Zöllner S, Schork NJ, Kelsoe JR. Genome-wide association study of bipolar disorder in European American and African American individuals. Mol Psychiatry, 2009 Aug;14(8):755-63 PMID: 19488044
  • Zhou X, Tang W, Greenwood TA, Guo S, He L, Geyer MA, Kelsoe JR. Transcription Factor SP4 is a susceptibility gene for bipolar disorder. PLoS ONE 2009 4(4):e5196, PMCID: PMC2674320
  • McCarthy MJ, Barrett TB, Nissen S, Kelsoe JR, Turner EE. Allele specific analysis of the ADRBK2 gene in lymphoblastoid cells from bipolar disorder patients. J Psychiatr Res, 2009 Sep 17 PMID: 19766236
  • Oedegaard KJ, Greenwood TA, Lunde A, Fasmer OB, Akiskal HS, Kelsoe JR, NIMH Genetics Initiative Bipolar Disorder Consortium. 2009 A genome-wide linkage study of bipolar disorder and co-morbid migraine: Replication of migraine linkage on chromosome 4q24, and suggestion of an overlapping susceptibility region for both disorders on chromosome 20p11. J Affec Disord, 2009 Oct 10 PMID: 19819557
  • Kelsoe JR. The Genetics of Bipolar Disorder, book chapter in Principles of Psychiatric Genetics. Editors Nurnberger and Berrettini, in press May 2010.
  • Zhou X, Nie Z, Roberts A, Zhang D, Sebat J, Malhotra D, Kelsoe JR, Geyer M. Reduced NMDAR1 expression in the Sp4 hypomorphic mouse may contribute to endophenotypes of human psychiatric disorders. Hum Mol Genet. 2010 Oct 1;19(19):3797-805. PMCID: PMC2935857
  • McCarthy MJ, Leckband SG, Kelsoe JR. Pharmacogenetics of Lithium Response in Bipolar Disorder. The Pharmacogenomics Journal. 2010 Oct;11(10):1439-65. PMID: 21047205
  • Kelsoe JR. "Behavioural neuroscience: A gene for impulsivity". Review. Nature News & Views, Nature Volume: 468: 1049–1050 Date published: 23 December 2010
  • McCarthy MJ, Leckband SG, Kelsoe JR. Pharmacogenetics of Lithium Response in Bipolar Disorder. The Pharmacogenomics Journal. 2010 Oct;11(10):1439-65. PMID: 21047205
  • Zhang D, QiaY, Akula N, Alliey-Rodriguez N, Tang J, The Bipolar Genome Study (BiGS) Consortium, Gershon E, Liu C. Accuracy of CNV Detection from GWAS Data. PloS ONE, 6(1): e14511. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014511.
  • Belmonte Mahon P, Pirooznia M, Goes FS, Seifuddin F, Steele J, Lee PH, Huang J, Hamshere ML; The Bipolar Genome Study (BiGS) Consortium, The Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium Bipolar Disorder Group, Depaulo JR Jr, Kelsoe JR, Rietschel M, Nöthen M, Cichon S, Gurling H, Purcell S, Smoller JW, Craddock N, Schulze TG, McMahon FJ, Potash JB, Zandi PP. Genome-wide association analysis of age at onset and psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2011 Feb 8. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.31172. PMID: 21305692
  • Willour VL, Seifuddin F, Mahon PB, Jancic D, Pirooznia M, Steele J, The Bipolar Disorder Genetics (BiGS) Consortium, Lee PH, Kelsoe JR, Marcella Rietschel M, Gurling H, Purcell S, Smoller JW, Craddock N, DePaulo Jr JR, Schulze TG, McMahon FJ, Zandi PP, Potash JB. A genome-wide association study of attempted suicide. Mol Psych, January 2011.
  • Vacic V, McCarthy S, Malhotra D, Murray F, Chou HH, Peoples A, Makarov V, Yoon S, Bhandari A, Corominas R, Iakoucheva LM, Krastoshevsky O, Krause V, Larach-Walters V, Welsh DK, Craig D, Kelsoe JR, Gershon ES, Leal SM, Aquila MD, Morris DW, Gill M, Corvin A, Insel PA, McClellan J, King MC, Karayiorgou M, Levy DL, Delisi LE, Sebat J. Duplications of the neuropeptide receptor gene VIPR2 confer significant risk for schizophrenia. Nature, 2011 Feb 23. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 21346763
  • Cichon S, Mühleisen TW, Degenhardt FA, Mattheisen M, Miró X, Strohmaier J, Steffens M, Meesters C, Herms S, Weingarten M, Priebe L, Haenisch B, Alexander M, Vollmer J, Breuer R, Schmäl C, Tessmann P, Moebus S, Wichmann HE, Schreiber S, Müller-Myhsok B, Lucae S, Jamain S, Leboyer M, Bellivier F, Etain B, Henry C, Kahn JP, Heath S; Bipolar Disorder Genome Study (BiGS) Consortium, Hamshere M, O'Donovan MC, Owen MJ, Craddock N, Schwarz M, Vedder H, Kammerer-Ciernioch J, Reif A, Sasse J, Bauer M, Hautzinger M, Wright A, Mitchell PB, Schofield PR, Montgomery GW, Medland SE, Gordon SD, Martin NG, Gustafsson O, Andreassen O, Djurovic S, Sigurdsson E, Steinberg S, Stefansson H, Stefansson K, Kapur-Pojskic L, Oruc L, Rivas F, Mayoral F, Chuchalin A, Babadjanova G, Tiganov AS, Pantelejeva G, Abramova LI, Grigoroiu-Serbanescu M, Diaconu CC, Czerski PM, Hauser J, Zimmer A, Lathrop M, Schulze TG, Wienker TF, Schumacher J, Maier W, Propping P, Rietschel M, Nöthen MM. Genome-wide Association Study Identifies Genetic Variation in Neurocan (NCAN) as Susceptibility Factor for Bipolar Disorder Am J Hum Genet. 2011 Feb 23. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 21353194
  • Alliey-Rodriguez N, Zhang D, Badner JA, Lahey B, Zhang X, Dinwiddie S, Romanos B, Plenys N, Liu C, Gershon ES, The Bipolar Genome Study. Genome-wide association study of personality traits in bipolar patients. Psychiatr Genet. 2011 Mar 2. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 21368711