Debby Tsuang, MD, MSc

Personal Statement

Over the past 20 years, my research has focused on the genetics of schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disorders, particularly on the use of clinical phenotyping and innovative genomic technologies to elucidate the complex genetic architecture underlying schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). I currently serve as Director of the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System (VAPSHCS) and Associate Director of the Clinical Core of the NIA-funded University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research (ADRC). I have also served as a PI on the Consortium on the Genetics of Schizophrenia (COGS) and as Co-PI of the Clinical Core of the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC). In these capacities, I direct multidisciplinary efforts to better understand the biology, genetics, etiology, prevention, and treatment of these disorders, and I provide clinical expertise for the differential diagnosis of psychotic disorders and neurodegenerative disorders.

Most recently, my colleagues and I have characterized endophenotypes in schizophrenia and used whole-exome sequencing to identify rare variants in the glutamatergic pathways of individuals with schizophrenia. We have also identified genetic variations that may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and I am becoming increasingly interested in using my expertise to identify older Veterans who might be at increased risk for suboptimal care due to cognitive impairment.

Department Affiliations

Teaching Philosophy

​I am interested in helping trainees to discover the patients and their diseases that capture their passions and curiosities. As they seek that niche, I believe it is critical to develop a comprehensive, holistic treatment approach to their patients. To that end, I hope to help trainees develop foundational knowledge concerning the complex medical, psychiatric, and psychosocial challenges that affect patients. I also believe that it is important to view those intersections in the context of the individual. When we see our patients as people who are part of a family and a web of connections beyond the self—and not just a patient ID number or DSM diagnosis—we are better able to understand both our patients’ illnesses and the ways in which their experiences of those illnesses affect them and their families.​

Recent Publications

Criteria for Psychosis in Major and Mild Neurocognitive Disorders: International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA) Consensus Clinical and Research Definition.
(2020 Sep 5)
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry
Cummings J, Pinto LC, Cruz M, Fischer CE, Gerritsen DL, Grossberg GT, Hwang TJ, Ismail Z, Jeste DV, Koopmans R, Lanctot KL, Mateos R, Peschin S, Sampaio C, Tsuang D, Wang H, Zhong K, Bain LJ, Sano M

Mild COVID-19 Disease Course With Protracted Delirium in a Cognitively Impaired Patient Over the Age of 85 Years.
(2020 Aug 6)
Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 22(4):
Payne S, Jankowski A, Shutes-David A, Ritchey K, Tsuang DW

Evolution of a Human-Specific Tandem Repeat Associated with ALS.
(2020 Sep 3)
Am J Hum Genet 107(3): 445-460
Course MM, Gudsnuk K, Smukowski SN, Winston K, Desai N, Ross JP, Sulovari A, Bourassa CV, Spiegelman D, Couthouis J, Yu CE, Tsuang DW, Jayadev S, Kay MA, Gitler AD, Dupre N, Eichler EE, Dion PA, Rouleau GA, Valdmanis PN

The effects of age and sex on cognitive impairment in schizophrenia: Findings from the Consortium on the Genetics of Schizophrenia (COGS) study.
PLoS One 15(5): e0232855
Lee J, Green MF, Nuechterlein KH, Swerdlow NR, Greenwood TA, Hellemann GS, Lazzeroni LC, Light GA, Radant AD, Seidman LJ, Siever LJ, Silverman JM, Sprock J, Stone WS, Sugar CA, Tsuang DW, Tsuang MT, Turetsky BI, Gur RC, Gur RE, Braff DL

Alzheimer's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease-Related Dementias in Older African American and White Veterans.
J Alzheimers Dis 75(1): 311-320
Cheng Y, Ahmed A, Zamrini E, Tsuang DW, Sheriff HM, Zeng-Treitler Q

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