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Hilary Coon

Research Professor of Psychiatry

Brain and Behavior







B.A. 1984 Music; B.A. 1984 Mathematics; PhD 1991 Psychology, University of Colorado and Institute for Behavioral Genetics, Boulder, Colorado.


Genetics of autism, suicide risk, nicotine dependence, and obesity; application of statistical methods to genetic data

Hilary Coon's primary research interests within the Department of Psychiatry include finding genes that lead to susceptibility to autism and, genetic risk factors for suicide, and the genetics of nicotine and alcohol addiction. Work to achieve these goals is accomplished through collaborations with national, and international collaborators, and locally through analyses of extended families ascertained through the Utah Population Data Base (UPDB). Gene findings may lead to better understanding of underlying mechanisms. Intermediate traits and co-morbid conditions associated with disease have also been a focus of Dr. Coon's research. Traits that are correlated with disease are often observed at increased rates also in clinically unaffected family members. These traits may indicate the presence of relatively common gene changes that, together with other genetic and environmental factors, contribute to increased risk of carrying a diagnosis. In addition, appearance of particular traits or co-morbid conditions in affected pedigree members and their clinically unaffected relatives may indicate particular genetic subtypes of disease present in the family. The study of these phenotypes within families may reveal susceptibility mutations that would otherwise not be detected. Pedigrees also offer a chance to study protective mechanisms in unaffected relatives, and environmental exposures that may be particularly important for genetically susceptible individuals. Interests outside the Psychiatry Department include the development and application of statistical methods to genetic and phenotypic data, cardiovascular genetics, genetics of obesity, and genetics of lung disorders. Dr. Coon is also interested in research ethics, and is a long time member of the University of Utah Institutional Review Board.

Selected Publications:

De Rubeis, S., He, X., Goldberg, A.P., Poultney, C.S., Samocha, K., Ercument Cicek, A., Kou, Y., Liu, L., Fromer, M., Walker, S., Singh, T., Klei, L., Kosmicki, J., Fu, S.C., Aleksic, B., Biscaldi, M., Bolton, P.F., Brownfeld, J.M., Cai, J., Campbell, N.G., Carracedo, A., Chahrour, M.H., Chiocchetti, A.G., Coon, H., Crawford, E.L., Crooks, L., Curran, S.R., Dawson, G,, Duketis, E., Fernandez, B.A., Gallagher, L., Geller, E., Guter, S.J., Sean Hill, R., Ionita-Laza, I., Jimenez Gonzalez, P., Kilpinen, H., Klauck, S.M., Kolevzon, A., Lee, I., Lei, J., Lehtimäki, T., Lin, C.F., Ma'ayan, A., Marshall, C.R., McInnes, A.L., Neale, B., Owen, M.J., Ozaki, N., Parellada, M., Parr, J.R., Purcell, S., Puura, K., Rajagopalan, D., Rehnström, K., Reichenberg, A., Sabo, A., Sachse, M., Sanders, S.J., Schafer, C., Schulte-Rüther, M., Skuse, D., Stevens, C., Szatmari, P., Tammimies, K., Valladares, O., Voran, A., Wang, L.S., Weiss, L.A., Jeremy Willsey, A., Yu, T.W., Yuen, R.K.; The DDD Study; Homozygosity Mapping Collaborative for Autism; UK10K Consortium; The Autism Sequencing Consortium, Cook, E.H., Freitag, C.M., Gill, M., Hultman, C.M., Lehner, T., Palotie, A., Schellenberg, G.D., Sklar, P., State, M.W., Sutcliffe, J.S., Walsh, C.A., Scherer, S.W., Zwick, M.E., Barrett, J.C., Cutler, D.J., Roeder, K., Devlin, B., Daly, M.J., and Buxbaum, J.D. (2014) Synaptic, transcriptional and chromatin genes disrupted in autism. Nature,Oct 29. doi: 10.1038/nature13772. [Epub ahead of print]

Darlington, T.M., Pimentel, R., Smith, K., Bakian, A.V., Jerominski, L., Cardon, J., Camp, N.J., Callor, W.B., Grey, T., Singleton, M., Yandell, M., Renshaw, P.F., Yurgelun-Todd, D.A., Gray, D., and Coon, H. (2014) Identifying rare variants for genetic risk through a combined pedigree and phenotype approach: application to suicide and asthma. Transl Psychiatry, Oct 21;4:e471. doi: 10.1038/tp.2014.111

Buxbaum, J.D., Bolshakova, N., Brownfeld, J.M., Anney, R.J., Bender, P., Bernier, R., Cook, E.H., Coon, H., Cuccaro, M., Freitag, C.M., Hallmayer, J., Geschwind, D., Klauck, S.M., Nurnberger, J.I., Oliveira, G., Pinto, D., Poustka, F., Scherer, S.W., Shih, A., Sutcliffe, J.S., Szatmari, P., Vicente, A.M., Vieland, V., and Gallagher, L. (2014) The Autism Simplex Collection: an international, expertly phenotyped autism sample for genetic and phenotypic analyses. Mol Autism, May 20;5:34. doi: 10.1186/2040-2392-5-34. eCollection 2014.

Hu, H., Roach, J.C., Coon, H., Guthery, S.L., Voelkerding, K.V., Margraf, R.L., Durtschi, J.D., Tavtigian, S.V., Shankaracharya, Wu, W., Scheet, P., Wang, S., Xing, J., Glusman, G., Hubley, R., Li, H., Garg, V., Moore, B., Hood, L., Galas, D.J., Srivastava, D., Reese, M.G., Jorde, L.B., Yandell, M., and Huff, C.D. (2014) A unified test of linkage analysis and rare-variant association for analysis of pedigree sequence data. Nat Biotechnol, Jul;32(7):663-9. doi: 10.1038/nbt.2895. Epub 2014 May 18.

Coon, H., Piasecki, T.M., Cook, E.H., Dunn, D., Mermelstein, R.J., Weiss, R.B., and Cannon, D.S. (2014) Association of the CHRNA4 neuronal nicotinic receptor subunit gene with frequency of binge drinking in young adults. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, Apr;38(4):930-7. doi: 10.1111/acer.12319. Epub 2014 Jan 15.

Coon, H., Darlington, T., Pimentel, R., Smith, K.R., Huff, C.D., Hu, H., Jerominski, L., Hansen, J., Klein, M., Callor, W.B., Byrd, J., Bakian, A., Crowell, S.E., McMahon, W.M., Rajamanickam, V., Camp, N.J., McGlade, E., Yurgelun-Todd, D., Grey, T., and Gray, D. (2013) Genetic risk factors in two Utah pedigrees at high risk for suicide.Transl Psychiatry, Nov 19;3:e325. doi: 10.1038/tp.2013.100.

Bilder, D.A., Bakian, A.V., Viskochil, J., Clark, E.A., Botts, E.L., Smith, K.R., Pimentel, R., McMahon, W.M., and Coon, H. (2013) Maternal prenatal weight gain and autism spectrum disorders.Pediatrics,Nov;132(5):e1276-83. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-1188. Epub 2013 Oct 28.

Stephens, S.H., Hartz, S.M., Hoft, N.R., Saccone, N.L., Corley, R.C., Hewitt, J.K., Hopfer, C.J., Breslau, N., Coon, H., Chen, X., Ducci, F., Dueker, N., Franceschini, N., Frank, J., Han, Y., Hansel, N.N., Jiang, C., Korhonen, T., Lind, P.A., Liu, J., Lyytikäinen, L.P., Michel, M., Shaffer, J.R., Short, S.E., Sun, J., Teumer, A., Thompson, J.R., Vogelzangs, N., Vink, J.M., Wenzlaff, A., Wheeler, W., Yang, B.Z., Aggen, S.H., Balmforth, A.J., Baumeister, S.E., Beaty, T.H., Benjamin, D.J., Bergen, A.W., Broms, U., Cesarini, D., Chatterjee, N., Chen, J., Cheng, Y.C., Cichon, S., Couper, D,, Cucca, F,, Dick, D., Foroud, T., Furberg, H., Giegling, I., Gillespie, N.A., Gu, F., Hall, A.S., Hällfors, J., Han, S., Hartmann, A.M., Heikkilä, K., Hickie, I.B., Hottenga, J.J., Jousilahti, P., Kaakinen, M., Kähönen, M., Koellinger, P.D., Kittner, S., Konte, B., Landi, M.T., Laatikainen, T., Leppert, M., Levy, S.M., Mathias, R.A., McNeil, D.W., Medland, S.E., Montgomery, G.W., Murray, T., Nauck, M., North, K.E., Paré, P.D., Pergadia, M., Ruczinski, I., Salomaa, V., Viikari, J., Willemsen, G., Barnes, K.C., Boerwinkle, E., Boomsma, D.I., Caporaso, N., Edenberg, H.J., Francks, C., Gelernter, J., Grabe, H.J., Hops, H., Jarvelin, M.R., Johannesson, M., Kendler, K.S., Lehtimäki, T., Magnusson, P.K., Marazita, M.L., Marchini, J., Mitchell, B.D., Nöthen, M.M., Penninx, B.W., Raitakari, O., Rietschel, M., Rujescu, D., Samani, N.J., Schwartz, A.G., Shete, S., Spitz, M., Swan, G.E., Völzke, H., Veijola, J., Wei, Q., Amos, C., Cannon, D.S., Grucza, R., Hatsukami, D., Heath, A., Johnson, E.O., Kaprio, J., Madden, P., Martin, N.G., Stevens, V.L., Weiss, R.B., Kraft, P., Bierut, L.J., and Ehringer, M.A. (2013) Distinct loci in the CHRNA5/CHRNA3/CHRNB4 gene cluster are associated with onset of regular smoking.Genet Epidemiol, Dec;37(8):846-59. doi: 10.1002/gepi.21760. Epub 2013 Nov 1.

Cross-Disorder Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. (2013) Identification of risk loci with shared effects on five major psychiatric disorders: a genome-wide analysis. Lancet, Apr 20;381(9875):1371-9. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)62129-1. Epub 2013 Feb 28.

Last Updated: 4/17/17