Anna R. Docherty, PhD, LP portrait
  • Assistant Professor, Psychiatry
  • Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience
  • Affiliate Assistant Professor, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric & Behavioral Genetics

Research Statement

Dr. Docherty is a clinical psychologist and quantitative geneticist. She has developed a largely computational laboratory at the University of Utah to examine the genetics of severe outcomes including suicide, treatment-resistant depression, and psychosis. To study this, she leverages the largest genetic datasets available from clinical populations, postmortem suicide deaths, and healthy emerging adults.

Dr. Docherty works with international psychiatric genetics research groups to improve prediction and prevention efforts, and to seek out biomarkers for reslience to extreme outcomes like suicide. She has secured NIMH, Simons Foundation, and NARSAD funding to study the molecular genetics of schizophrenia and suicide, and has published several papers using statistical genetic approaches to understanding and preventing mental illness. 

Dr. Docherty's interest in psychiatric genetics began during her doctoral training at both the University of Missouri (Ph.D.) and the University of Minnesota (NIMH F31 Fellow and American Psychological Foundation Fellow). This led her to collaborate with the Wellcome Trust and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, and to projects examining symptom dimensions, genetic subtyping, and genome-wide polygenic risk modeling. Overall, her team's research focus is on enhancing prediction and prevention of severe outcomes and identifying novel drug targets. 

Research Keywords

  • Suicide
  • Statistics
  • Statistical Genetics
  • Schizophrenia
  • Psychopathology
  • Psychiatric Genomics
  • Psychiatric Genetics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Genetics
  • Depression

Research Equipment and Testing Expertise

  • R, LDpred, GCTA, FUMA, Plink, PRSice, SAS, MPlus, OpenMx, Mx, Merlin, samtools, bedtools, etc.
  • Unix shell (bash), Perl.


  • French, basic.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • Asia
    Much of psychiatric genetics has been limited to populations of Northern European ancestry. Dr. Docherty particularly interested in how this research translates to genetic variation in populations with ancestry in Southeast Asia, Northern and Middle Africa, Latin America, South America, Indigenous North America, and India. She is also interested in how immigration and cultural displacement reflect distinct (and preventable) psychiatric sequelae.


  • For an up to date list fo publications, see (2019). -. Published, 11/12/2019.
  • Adkins, D. E., Rasmussen, K., Docherty, A. R. (2017). Social epigenetics of human behavior. In press, Oxford Handbook of Society and Human Behavior. Published, 01/2018.
  • Docherty, A. R., Moscati, A., Dick, D., Savage, J., Salvatore, J., Cooke, M., Aliev, F., Moore, A., Edwards, A. C., Adkins, D. E., Peterson, R., Webb, B. T., Bacanu, S. A. & Kendler, K. S. (2017). Polygenic prediction of the phenome, across ancestry, in emerging adulthood. In press, Psychological Medicine. Published, 12/2017.
  • Merrill, A. M., Karcher, N. R., Cicero, D. C., Becker, T. M., Docherty, A. R., & Kerns, J. G. (2017). Evidence that communication impairment in schizophrenia is associated with generalized poor task performance. Psychiatry Research. Published, 01/03/2017.
  • Moore, A. A., Sawyers, C., Adkins, D. E, & Docherty, A. R. (2017). Opportunities for an enhanced integration of neuroimaging and psychiatric genomics. Published, 01/02/2017.
  • Docherty, A.R. (2017). Leveraging psychiatric and medical genetics to understand comorbid depression and obesity. British Journal of Psychiatry. Published, 01/01/2017.
  • Edwards, A. C., Docherty, A. R., Moscati, A., Bigdeli, T. B., Peterson, R., Hettema, J., Flint, J., & Kendler, K. S. (2017). Polygenic risk for severe psychopathology among Europeans is associated with major depressive disorder in a Han Chinese sample. In review at Psychological Medicine. Published, 12/28/2016.
  • Docherty, A. R., Bigdeli, T. B., Yang, Z., Edwards, A. C., Peterson, R., Webb, B. T., Bacanu, S. A., Flint, J., Kendler, K. S., CONVERGE Consortium. (2017). Age at onset & family history of major depression: polygenic association with major depression? Depression and Anxiety. Published, 10/14/2016.
  • Docherty, A. R., Moscati, A. A. & Fanous, A. H. (2016). Cross-disorder psychiatric genomics. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports.. Published, 08/02/2016.
  • Docherty, A. R., Moscati, A., Peterson, R., Edwards, A. C., Bigdeli, T. B., Adkins, D. E., Webb, B. T., Bacanu, S. A., Flint, J., Kendler, K. S. (2016). SNP-Based heritability estimates of the personality dimensions and polygenic prediction of both neuroticism and major depression: Findings from CONVERGE. Translational Psychiatry.. Published, 08/01/2016.
  • Edwards, A. C., Aggen, S. H., Cai, N., Bigdeli, T. B., Peterson, R. E., Docherty, A. R., Webb, B. T., Flint, J., & Kendler, K. S. (2016). Chronicity of depression and molecular markers in a large sample of Han Chinese women. Depression & Anxiety. Published, 08/01/2016.
  • Docherty, A. R. (2016). Genomic approaches to phenotype prediction. JAMA Psychiatry.. Published, 01/07/2016.
  • Docherty, A. R., Kremen, W., Panizzon, M., Franz, C., Lyons, M. J., Eaves, L., & Neale, M. C. (2015). Comparison of twin and extended pedigree designs for obtaining heritability estimates. Behavior Genetics. Published, 12/07/2015.
  • Docherty, A. R., Panizzon, M., Neale, M. C., Chen, C., Fiecas, M., Elyer, L. T., Fennema-Notestine, C., Hagler, D., Fischl, B., Franz, C., Jak, A., Lyons, M. J., Rinker, D., Thompson, W. K., Tsuang, M., Dale, A., & Kremen, W. (2015). Does degree of gyrification underlie the phenotypic and genetic associations between cortical surface area and cognitive ability? In press at NeuroImage.. Published, 10/08/2015.
  • Cicero, D. C., Docherty, A. R., Becker, T. M., Martin, E. A., & Kerns, J. K. (2015). Aberrant salience, self-concept clarity, and interview-rated psychotic-like experiences. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. . Published, 08/07/2015.
  • Docherty, A. R., Panizzon, M., Sawyers, C. K., Neale, M. C., Elyer, L. T., Fennema-Notestine, C., Hagler, D., Fischl, B., Franz, C., Thompson, W. K., Tsuang, M., Dale, A., & Kremen, W. (2015). Genetic network properties of the human cortex based on regional thickness and surface area measures. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Published, 08/03/2015.
  • Docherty, A. R., Bigdeli, T. B., Edwards, A. C., Bacanu, S., Lee, D., Neale, M. C., M., Wormley, B. S., Walsh, D., O’Neill, F. A., Riley, B. P., Kendler, K. S. & Fanous, A. H. (2015). Gene-based and gene pathway analysis of symptom dimensions of psychotic illness based on schizophrenia-specific model of the OPCRIT. Schizophrenia Research. . Published, 08/03/2015.
  • Edwards, A. C., Bigdeli, T. B., Docherty, A. R., Bacanu, S., Lee, D., DeCandia, T., Moscati, A., Thiselton, D. M., Maher, B. S., Wormley, B. S., Walsh, D., O’Neill, F. A., Kendler, K. S., Riley, B. P. & H. Fanous, A. H. (2015). Meta-analysis of positive and negative symptoms reveals schizophrenia modifier genes. Schizophrenia Bulletin. Published, 08/03/2015.
  • Docherty, A. R. (2015). Regarding brain structural abnormalities in intellectually superior schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.. Published, 08/03/2015.
  • Docherty, A. R., Sponheim, S. R., & Kerns, J. G. (2015) Self-reported affective traits and current affective experience in biological relatives of people with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research.. Published, 08/03/2015.
  • Panizzon, M., Neale, M. C., Docherty, A. R., Franz, C., Jacobson, K., Fiecas, M., Toomey, R., Xian, H., Vasilopoulos, T., Rana, B., McKenzie, R., Lyons, M. & Kremen, W. (2015). Genetic and environmental architecture of changes in episodic memory from middle to late middle age. Psychology and Aging.. Published, 01/02/2015.
  • Docherty, A. R. & Sponheim, S. R. (2014). Anhedonia as an Indicator of Genetic Liability to Schizophrenia. M. Ritsner (Ed.), Anhedonia: A Comprehensive Handbook. Dordrecht: Springer. Published, 08/01/2014.
  • Docherty, A. R., Cicero, D. C., Becker, T. M., & Kerns, J. G. (2014). Self-reported ambivalence in schizophrenia and associations with negative mood. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. Published, 08/01/2014.
  • Docherty, A. R., Sponheim, S. R., & Gizer, I. A. (2014). DISC1 loci not associated with anhedonia in individuals with genetic liability for schizophrenia. Psychiatric Genetics. . Published, 08/01/2014.
  • Cicero, D. C., Becker, T. M., Martin, E. A., Docherty, A. R., & Kerns, J. K. (2014). Correspondence between psychometric and clinical high risk for psychosis. Psychological Assessment. Published, 08/01/2014.
  • Docherty, A. R., Sponheim, S. R., & Kerns, J. G. (2014). Further examination of ambivalence in relation to the schizophrenia spectrum. Schizophrenia Research. Published, 08/01/2014.
  • Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F., Docherty, A. R. & Sponheim, S. R. (2014). Toward a Model-Based Approach to the Clinical Assessment of Personality Psychopathology. Journal of Personality Assessment.. Published, 08/01/2014.
  • January, A. M., Meyerson, D. A., Reddy, L. F., Docherty, A. R., & Klonoff, E. A. (2014). Impressions of misconduct: Clinical psychology doctoral students’ perceptions of faculty ethical violations. Training and Education in Professional Psychology.. Published, 08/01/2014.
  • Vrieze, S. I., Docherty, A. R., Arbisi, P., Thuras, P., Abecasis, C., Erbes, C. R., Siegel, W., Iacono, W., Sponheim, S. R., & Leskela, J. (2014). The electronic medical record is an invaluable clinical tool. Let’s start using it. Psychiatric Services. Published, 01/01/2014.
  • Cicero, D. C. Becker, T. M., Martin, E. A., Docherty, A. R., & Kerns, J. G. (2013). The role of aberrant salience and low self-concept clarity in psychotic-like experiences. Personality Disorders, 4, 33-42. Published, 08/01/2013.
  • Docherty, A. R., Coleman, M. J., Deutsch, C., Tu, X., Mendell, N. R., & Levy, D. L. (2012). Comparison of putative endophenotypes in schizophrenia patients with and without obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms: Examining evidence for the schizo-obsessive subtype. Schizophrenia Research, 140, 83-86. Published, 08/01/2012.
  • Martin, E. A., Becker, T. M., Cicero, D. C., Docherty, A. R. & Kerns, J. G. (2011). Differential associations between schizotypy facets and aspects of attention to emotion. Psychiatry Research, 187, 94-99. Published, 08/01/2011.
  • Docherty, A. R., Berenbaum, H. & Kerns, J. G. (2011). Alogia and formal thought disorder: differential patterns of verbal fluency task performance. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 45, 1352-1357. Published, 08/01/2011.
  • Docherty, A. R. (2010). Society for International Research of Schizophrenia essay awards: A unifying hypothesis for the pathogenesis of schizotypal anhedonia. Schizophrenia Research Forum, images/ SRFSIRSEssaytop12.pdf. Accessed January 1, 2014. Published, 08/01/2010.
  • Grijalva, F. E., Ford, J. D., Docherty, A. R., Fricker-Elhai, A. E., & Elhai, J. D. (2008). Sociodemographic associations with mental health and residential care utilization among juvenile delinquents. Psychological Services, 5, 153-160. Published, 08/01/2008.
  • Kerns, J. G., Docherty, A. R. & Martin, E. A. (2008). Social and physical anhedonia and valence and arousal aspects of emotional experience. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 735-746. Published, 08/01/2008.
  • Docherty, A. R. & Sponheim, S. R. (2008). Anhedonia as a phenotype for the Val158Met COMT polymorphism in relatives of patients with schizophrenia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 788-798. Published, 08/01/2008.
  • Elhai, J. D., Gray, M. J., Docherty, A. R., Kashdan, T. B., & Kose, S. (2007). Structural validity of the posttraumatic stress disorder checklist among college students with a trauma history. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22, 1471-1478. Published, 08/01/2007.