Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D 

Chief, Beyster Center for Molecular Genomics of Neuropsychiatric Diseases
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Cellular & Molecular Medicine

University of California, San Diego

Sebat Lab


Contact Information

Biomedical Research Facility II 2A230
University Of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093
T: (858) 534-6526
F: (858) 534-2527


Not available at this time.

Research Interests

Large-scale differences in gene copy number, known as copy number variants (CNVs), are a significant source of genetic variation and an important contributor to disease risk in humans. Our laboratory is interested in how CNVs and other variation within in the human genome contribute to mental illness. Our goal is to identify genes related to psychiatric disorders and to determine how genetic variants impact the function of genes and corresponding cellular pathways.

Our experimental approach is to use high-resolution microarray platforms to screen the genomes of patients for CNVs and to test the association of these genetic variants with disease in families and in cohorts of patients and healthy controls. Findings from several studies support a role for CNVs in autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In addition, multiple genomic regions have been identified that harbor rare mutations that substantially increase disease risk.
We are interested in further understanding the functional and phenotypic consequences of these mutations in humans. CNVs that result in the disruption of a single gene may produce an altered transcript. Larger rearrangements that alter the dosage of multiple genes may result in altered levels of gene expression. We study these processes experimentally in human cells. By understanding the biological processes related to psychiatric disorders and by characterizing how these processes are disrupted in humans, we hope to enhance the diagnosis and treatment of patients.


  • 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, Dell Aquila M, 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 Mar 24;471(7339):499-503.
  • McCarthy SE, [71 authors], Sebat J. Microduplications of 16p11.2 are associated with schizophrenia. Nat Genet. 2009 Nov;41(11):1223-7.
  • Yoon S, Xuan Z, Makarov V, Ye K, Sebat J. Sensitive and accurate detection of copy number variants using read depth of coverage. Genome Res. 2009 Sep;19(9):1586-92.
  • Walsh, T., McClellan, J.M., McCarthy, S.E., Addington, A.M., Pierce, S.B., Cooper, G.M., Nord, A.S., Kusenda, M., Malhotra, D., Bhandari, A., Stray, S.M., Rippey, C.F., Roccanova, P., Makarov, V., Lakshmi, B., Findling, R.L., Sikich, L., Stromberg, T., Merriman, B., Gogtay, N., Butler, P., Eckstrand, K., Noory, L., Gochman, P., Long, R., Chen, Z., Davis, S., Baker, C., Eichler, E.E., Meltzer, P.S., Nelson, S.F., Singleton, A.B., Lee, M.K., Rapoport, J.L., King, M.C., and Sebat, J. 2008. Rare Structural Variants Disrupt Multiple Genes in Neurodevelopmental Pathways in Schizophrenia. Science 320: 539–543.
  • Sebat, J., Lakshmi, B., Malhotra, D., Troge, J., Lese-Martin, C., Walsh, T., Yamrom, B., Yoon, S., Krasnitz, A., Kendall, J., Leotta, A., Pai, D., Zhang, R., Lee, Y.H., Hicks, J., Spence, S.J., Lee, A.T., Puura, K., Lehtimaki, T., Ledbetter, D., Gregersen, P.K., Bregman, J., Sutcliffe, J.S., Jobanputra, V., Chung, W., Warburton, D., King, M.C., Skuse, D., Geschwind, D.H., Gilliam, T.C., Ye, K., and Wigler, M. 2007. Strong association of de novo copy number mutations with autism. Science 316: 445–449.
  • Sebat, J., Lakshmi, B., Troge, J., Alexander, J., Young, J., Lundin, P., Maner, S., Massa, H., Walker, M., Chi, M., Navin, N., Lucito, R., Healy, J., Hicks, J., Ye, K., Reiner, A., Gilliam, T.C., Trask, B., Patterson, N., Zetterberg, A., and Wigler, M. 2004. Large-scale copy number polymorphism in the human genome. Science 305: 525–528.