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

The effects of age and sex on cognitive impairment in schizophrenia: Findings from the Consortium on the Genetics of Schizophrenia (COGS) study.
(2020)
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.
(2020)
J Alzheimers Dis 75(1): 311-320
Cheng Y, Ahmed A, Zamrini E, Tsuang DW, Sheriff HM, Zeng-Treitler Q

Research criteria for the diagnosis of prodromal dementia with Lewy bodies.
(2020 Apr 28)
Neurology 94(17): 743-755
McKeith IG, Ferman TJ, Thomas AJ, Blanc F, Boeve BF, Fujishiro H, Kantarci K, Muscio C, O'Brien JT, Postuma RB, Aarsland D, Ballard C, Bonanni L, Donaghy P, Emre M, Galvin JE, Galasko D, Goldman JG, Gomperts SN, Honig LS, Ikeda M, Leverenz JB, Lewis SJG, Marder KS, Masellis M, Salmon DP, Taylor JP, Tsuang DW, Walker Z, Tiraboschi P, prodromal DLB Diagnostic Study Group.

Genome-wide Association of Endophenotypes for Schizophrenia From the Consortium on the Genetics of Schizophrenia (COGS) Study.
(2019 Oct 9)
JAMA Psychiatry
Greenwood TA, Lazzeroni LC, Maihofer AX, Swerdlow NR, Calkins ME, Freedman R, Green MF, Light GA, Nievergelt CM, Nuechterlein KH, Radant AD, Siever LJ, Silverman JM, Stone WS, Sugar CA, Tsuang DW, Tsuang MT, Turetsky BI, Gur RC, Gur RE, Braff DL

Author Correction: Genetic meta-analysis of diagnosed Alzheimer's disease identifies new risk loci and implicates Aβ, tau, immunity and lipid processing.
(2019 Sep)
Nat Genet 51(9): 1423-1424
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Sacchinelli E, Raj A, Spalletta G, Raskind M, Caltagirone C, Bossù P, Orfei MD, Reisberg B, Clarke R, Reitz C, Smith AD, Ringman JM, Warden D, Roberson ED, Wilcock G, Rogaeva E, Bruni AC, Rosen HJ, Gallo M, Rosenberg RN, Ben-Shlomo Y, Sager MA, Mecocci P, Saykin AJ, Pastor P, Cuccaro ML, Vance JM, Schneider JA, Schneider LS, Slifer S, Seeley WW, Smith AG, Sonnen JA, Spina S, Stern RA, Swerdlow RH, Tang M, Tanzi RE, Trojanowski JQ, Troncoso JC, Van Deerlin VM, Van Eldik LJ, Vinters HV, Vonsattel JP, Weintraub S, Welsh-Bohmer KA, Wilhelmsen KC, Williamson J, Wingo TS, Woltjer RL, Wright CB, Yu CE, Yu L, Saba Y, Alzheimer Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC)., European Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative (EADI)., Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Consortium (CHARGE)., Genetic and Environmental Risk in AD/Defining Genetic, Polygenic and Environmental Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease Consortium (GERAD/PERADES)., Pilotto A, Bullido MJ, Peters O, Crane PK, Bennett D, Bosco P, 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