Joseph L McClay, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Pharmacotherapy & Outcomes Science
Faculty/Staff picture
  •   Smith Building
  • School of Pharmacy
    Dept of Pharmacotherapy & Outcomes Science

    410 N 12th Street
    Box 980533
    Richmond, VA 23298-0533
  •  (804) 828-3428
I am interested in understanding the genetic regulatory determinants of central nervous system (CNS) drug response through the study of chromatin, the complex of DNA and protein in the cell nucleus. My lab uses the tools of epigenomics and functional genomics to understand how epigenetic variation influences drug response and, in turn, how drugs and toxins may affect the epigenome. For example, we are currently funded by the National Institute on Aging to study how epigenetic changes in normal aging affect rates of drug metabolism. We collaborate with colleagues in the VCU School of Medicine to study epigenetic mechanisms of toxin response and treatment in the brain. Furthermore, we have received several grants to study brain transcription factors associated with CNS disorders. We have started to evaluate the possibility of drugging these factors and their wider regulatory networks as a means to treat CNS disorders. Please feel free to contact me about potential research openings in my lab, including undergraduate and PharmD internships/electives, PharmD summer fellowships, graduate student and postdoctoral positions.

Area of Focus

  • Pharmacogenetics and genomics
  • Functional genomics
  • Psychiatric genetics
  • Pharmacoepigenetics


  • Ph.D., Biochemistry (King's College London, 2003)
  • B.S., Genetics (University of York, England, 1997)

Professional Experience

  • (2021 - Present) Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science, VCU School of Pharmacy
  • (2015 - 2021) Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science, VCU School of Pharmacy
  • (2008 - 2015) Research Assistant Professor, Center for Biomarker Research and Personalized Medicine, VCU School of Pharmacy
  • (2006 - 2008) Research Associate, Center for Biomarker Research and Personalized Medicine, VCU School of Pharmacy
  • (2003 - 2006) Postdoctoral Fellow, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, VCU School of Medicine


PubMed Search
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  • McClay JL et al., Inventors. Lineagen Inc., Salt Lake City UT, assignee. Metabolomics-based biomarkers for lung function. US patent: US 9823204B2. Priority date 4/1/2010. Granted 11/21/2017.

Recent Publications

  • Maldonato BJ, Vergara AG, Yadav J, Glass SM, Paragas EM, Li D, Lazarus P, McClay JL, Ning B, Daly AK, Russell LE (2022) Epigenetics in Drug Disposition & Drug Therapy: Symposium Report of the 24th North American Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX). Drug Metabolism Reviews (In Press)
  • Ribeiro ACR, Hawkins EH, Jahr FM, McClay JL, Deshpande LS (2022) Repeated exposure to chlorpyrifos is associated with a dose-dependent chronic neurobehavioral deficit in adult rats. Neurotoxicology 90: 172-183.
  • Kronfol MM, Abudahab S, Dozmorov MG Jahr FM, Halquist M, McRae M, Wijesinghe DS, Price ET, Slattum PW, McClay JL. (2021) Histone acetylation levels at the sulfotransferase 1A1 gene are associated with its hepatic expression levels in normal aging. Pharmacogenetics & Genomics 31 (9): 207-214
  • McClay JL (2021) Epigenetic regulation of drug metabolism in aging. Aging 13 (13): 16898-99
  • Ribeiro AC, Jahr FM, Hawkins E, Kronfol MM, Younis RM, McClay JL, Deshpande LS (2021) Epigenetic histone acetylation and Bdnf dysregulation in the hippocampus of rats exposed to repeated, low-dose diisopropylfluorophosphate. Life Sciences 281: 119765
  • Bousman CA, Bengesser SA, Aitchison KJ, Amare AT, Aschauer H, Baune BT, Behroozi Asl B, Bishop JR, Burmeister, M, Chaumette B, Chen LS, Cordner ZA, Deckert J, Degenhardt F, DeLisi LE, Folkersen L, Kennedy JL, Klein TE, McClay JL, McMahon F, Musil R, Sangkuhl K, Saccone NL, Stowe RM, Tan EC, Tiwari AK, Zai CC, Zai GC, Zhang J, Gaedigk A, Müller DJ (2021) Review and Consensus on Pharmacogenomic Testing in Psychiatry. Pharmacopsychiatry 54 (1): 5-17
  • Ribeiro AC, Zhu J, Kronfol MM, Jahr FM, Younis RM, Hawkins E, McClay JL, Deshpande LS (2020) Molecular mechanisms for the antidepressant-like effects of a low-dose ketamine treatment in a DFP-based rat model for Gulf War Illness. Neurotoxicology 80: 52-59
  • Kronfol MM, Jahr FM, Dozmorov MG, Phansalkar P, Xie LY, Aberg KA, McRae M, Price ET, Slattum PW, Gerk PM, McClay JL (2020) DNA methylation and histone acetylation changes to cytochrome P450 2E1 regulation in normal aging and impact on rates of drug metabolism in the liver. GeroScience 42 (3), 819-832
  • Kronfol MM and McClay JL (2019) Epigenetic Biomarkers in Personalized Medicine. Chapter 14 in “Prognostic Epigenetics”, (Shilpy Sharma, Ed), volume 15 in “Translational Epigenetics” Series. Elsevier (Academic Press), Oxford, United Kingdom.
  • Younis RM, Taylor RM, Beardsley PM, McClay JL (2019) The ANKS1B gene and its associated phenotypes: Focus on CNS drug response. Pharmacogenomics 20 (9): 669-684
  • Patel SH, Ismaiel OA, Mylott WR, Yuan M, McClay JL, Paris JJ, Hauser KF, McRae M. (2019) Cell-type specific differences in antiretroviral penetration and the effects of HIV-1 Tat and morphine among primary human brain endothelial cells, astrocytes, pericytes, and microglia. Neuroscience Letters 712: 134475
  • Xia H, Jahr FM, Kim NK, Xie L, Shabalin AA, Bryois J, Sweet DH, Kronfol MM, Palasuberniam P, McRae M, Riley BP, Sullivan PF, van den Oord EJ, McClay JL (2018) Building a schizophrenia genetic network: Transcription Factor 4 regulates genes involved in neuronal development and schizophrenia risk. Human Molecular Genetics 27 (18): 3246-3256