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Center Leadership

Director, Paul S. Appelbaum, MD
Dr. Appelbaum is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Law at Columbia University, and director of the Columbia Center for Research on Ethical, Legal, & Social Implications of Psychiatric, Neurologic, and Behavioral Genetics. A primary focus of his work is issues related to the use of genetic and genomic data. He has over four decades of experience with empirical research on ethical and legal issues in medicine, collaborating with colleagues in law, ethics, psychology, and sociology. He co-leads the Center’s study of the impact of genetic findings in autism and a NHGRI grant examining approaches to genetic variant reinterpretation. As part of the Center grant, he has examined the impact of behavioral genetic data on views regarding responsibility and punishment. With support from the Templeton Foundation, he and his colleagues are currently looking at the extent to which people make genetic ascriptions for prosocial and antisocial behaviors. Dr. Appelbaum has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. 

Deputy Director, Ruth Ottman, PhD
Dr. Ottman is Professor of Epidemiology (in Neurology and the Sergievsky Center), Deputy Director for Research, Sergievsky Center, and Research Scientist, New York State Psychiatric Institute. She is a genetic epidemiologist with more than 30 years of experience in research on the role of inherited factors in susceptibility to neurologic disorders, primary focusing on seizure disorders. Her research group was the first to recognize the familial epilepsy syndrome “autosomal dominant partial epilepsy with auditory features” and to identify LGI1 as a major susceptibility gene for the disorder. She is currently a coinvestigator in the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project, a large consortium whose aim is to collect dense phenotypic information and DNA on ~3500 individuals with epilepsy, to be used for gene discovery, and is also a principal investigator of Epi4K, a NINDS-funded Center without Walls for Research on the Epilepsies, whose goal is to identify genes that influence risk for epilepsy by sequencing the genomes of 4,000 affected individuals. She is actively engaged in research on the psychosocial issues related to genomic analysis and genetic testing in the epilepsies. This work includes qualitative research and a much larger NIH-funded study that uses quantitative (survey) research methods and will include more than 1,000 individuals from families containing multiple individuals with epilepsy.

Core Faculty

The Center’s Core Faculty work with the Director and Deputy Director to oversee and carry out the Center’s work. Its members are researchers with training in psychiatry, neurology, psychology, genetics, pediatrics, bioethics, public policy, epidemiology, law and genetic counseling.

Advisory Board

The Center’s Advisory Board meets annually to review the Center’s activities and its plans for the coming year. Its members are experts and stakeholders with knowledge and experience in clinical genetics, molecular genetics, ELSI research, bioethics, law, public policy, advocacy for persons with genetic disorders, and experience with having a genetic disorder.

Faculty Associates

The Center’s Faculty Associates are involved in Center projects and activities. They come from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds, including sociology, economics, law, and medicine.

Post Doctoral Fellows

The Center’s Post-Doctoral Fellows receive training in the conduct of research on the ethical, legal and social implications of advances in genetics and conduct their own focused research project under supervision of Center Core Faculty.