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

    410 N 12th Street
    P.O. Box 980533
    Richmond, VA 23298-0533
  •  (804) 828-3428
My lab studies psychiatric disorders and psychiatric drug response using the tools of functional genomics and epigenomics. In the last five years, dozens of risk genes have been identified for psychiatric disorders. Our work focuses on characterizing these novel findings using bioinformatics and laboratory studies. We are particularly interested in how risk variants disrupt biological systems and networks and how these can be targeted by novel drugs. We also study existing psychiatric drugs to characterize the complex mechanisms of response downstream from initial receptor binding. More details on current and recent projects are available at the research website link above.

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

  • (2015 - Present) 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

  • 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 Jun 14 [Epub ahead of print]
  • Patel S, Leibrand CR, Palasuberniam P, Couraud PO, Weksler B, Jahr FM, McClay JL, Hauser KF, McRae M (2017) Effects of HIV-1 Tat and Methamphetamine on Blood-Brain Barrier Integrity and Function In Vitro. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 61 (12) e01307-17
  • Clark SL, McClay JL, Adkins DE, Kumar G, Aberg KA, Nerella S, Xie L, Collins AL, Crowley JJ, Quackenbush CR, Hilliard CE, Shabalin AA, Vrieze SI, Peterson RE, Copeland WE, Silberg JL, McGue M, Maes H, Iacono WG, Sullivan PF, Costello EJ, van den Oord EJ (2017) Deep Sequencing of 71 Candidate Genes to Characterize Variation Associated with Alcohol Dependence. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 41 (4): 711-718
  • Kronfol MM, Dozmorov MG, Huang R, Slattum PW, McClay JL (2017) The role of epigenomics in personalized medicine. Expert Review in Precision Medicine and Drug Development 2 (1): 33-45
  • Enga RM, Rice AC, Weller P, Subler M, Lee D, Hall CP, Windle JJ, Beardsley PM, van den Oord EJ, McClay JL. (2017) Initial characterization of behavior and ketamine response in a mouse knockout of the post-synaptic effector gene Anks1b. Neuroscience Letters 641:26-32
  • Clark SL, McClay JL, Adkins DE, Aberg KA, Kumar G, Nerella S, Xie L, Collins AL, Crowley JJ, Quakenbush CR, Hillard CE, Gao G, Shabalin AA, Peterson RE, Copeland WE, Silberg JL, Maes H, Sullivan PF, Costello EJ, van den Oord EJ (2016) Deep Sequencing of Three Loci Implicated in Large-Scale Genome-Wide Association Study Smoking Meta-Analyses. Nicotine and Tobacco Research 18 (5): 626-631
  • McClay JL, Shabalin AA, Dozmorov MG, Adkins DE, Kumar G, Nerella S, Clark SL, Bergen SE, Swedish Schizophrenia Consortium, Hultman CM, Magnusson PKE, Sullivan PF, Aberg KA, van den Oord EJ. (2015) High density methylation QTL analysis in human blood via next-generation sequencing of the methylated genomic DNA fraction. Genome Biology 16 (1): 291
  • Clark SL, Aberg KA, Nerella S, Kumar G, McClay JL, Chen W, Xie LY, Harada A, Shabalin AA, Gao G, Bergen SE, Hultman CM, Magnusson PK, Sullivan PF, van den Oord EJ (2015) Combined Whole Methylome and Genomewide Association Study Implicates CNTN4 in Alcohol Use. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 39 (8): 1396-1405
  • McClay JL, Vunck SA, Batman AM, Crowley JJ, Vann RE, Beardsley PM, van den Oord EJ. (2015) Neurochemical metabolomics reveals disruption to sphingolipid metabolism following chronic haloperidol administration. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology 10 (3): 425-434
  • Kumar G, Clark SL, McClay JL, Shabalin AA, Adkins DE, Xie L, Chan R, Nerella S, Kim Y, Sullivan PF, Hultman CM, Magnusson PK, Aberg KA, van den Oord EJ (2015) Refinement of schizophrenia GWAS loci using methylome-wide association data. Human Genetics 134 (1): 77-87