Dr Gwyneth Zai


My research area focuses on the genetics and pharmacogenetics of psychiatric disorders. Almost all psychiatric disorders are complex and heterogeneous in nature and my research aims to identify homogeneous phenotypes, specifically cognitive profiles, in psychiatric disorders, and to examine the genetics of these specific phenotypes. The main disorders that I am interested in include schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.

Through genetics and pharmacogenetics research, my clinical goals are to choose the best therapy for each patient using personalized medicine in order to avoid adverse drug reaction and to maximize drug efficacy. My scientific goals are to link genetic variations to variations in phenotypes, in order to determine mechanisms responsible for that link, and to translate the identified link into enhanced understanding, treatment, and prevention of psychiatry disorders.

Research Focus


Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders




Clinical conditions

Body dysmorphic disorder

Excoriation disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder




Behavioural analysis


Cross-sectional and cohort studies

Molecular genetics

Neuropsychological testing



Annemieke Apergis-Schoute

Annette Bruhl

Sam Chamberlain

Trevor Robbins

Barbara Sahakian

United Kingdom

Naomi Fineberg


James Kennedy

Peggy Richter

Associated News Items



    Huang E, Hettige N, Zai G, Huang J, Zai CC, Tiwari AK, Müller DJ, Kennedy JL (2019), “Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism and clinical response to antipsychotic treatment in schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder patients: a meta-analysis” Pharmacogenomics 19(3):269-76

    McNiven V, Mamane S, Zai G, So J (2019), “The nose knows… or does it? Olfactory reference syndrome in patients presenting for assessment of unusual body odour” J Nerv Ment Dis 207(3):145-51

    Nurnberger JI Jr, Austin J, Berrettini WH, Besterman AD, DeLisi LE, Grice DE, Kennedy JL, Moreno-De-Luca D, Potash JB, Ross DA, Schulze TG, Zai G (2019), “Dr Nurnberger and Colleagues Reply” J Clin Psychiatry 80(3):pii:19lr12741a

    in press

    Yilmaz Z, Halvorsen M, Bryois J, Yu D, Thornton LM, Zerwas S, Micali N, Moessner R, Burton CL, Zai G, Erdman L, Kas MJ, Arnold PD, Davis LK, Knowles JA, Breen G, Scharf JM, Nestadt G, Mathews CA, Bulik CM, Mattheisen M, Crowley JJ; Eating Disorders Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, Tourette Syndrome/Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (in press), “Examination of the shared genetic basis of anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorder” Mol Psychiatry In press


    Zai CC, George J, Cheema SY, Zai GC, Fonseka TM, Danesi M, Shaikh SA, Irwin D, Tampakeras M, Freeman N, Rehm J, Wells S, Kennedy JL (2019), “An examination of genes, stress and suicidal behaviour in two first Nations communities: the role of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene” Psychiatry Res 275:247-52

    in press

    Zai G, Barta C, Cath D, Eapen V, Geller D, Grunblatt E (in press), “New insights and perspectives on the genetics of obsessive-compulsive disorder” Psychiatr Genet Accepted


    Brainstorm Consortium, Anttila V, Bulik-Sullivan B, Finucane HK, Walters RK, Bras J, Duncan L, Escott-Price V, ..., Zai G, et al. (2018), “Analysis of shared heritability in common disorders of the brain” Science 360(6395):pii:eaap8757

    Inkster B, Simmons A, Cole J, Schoof E, Linding R, Nichols T, Muglia P, Holsboer F, Saemann P, McGuffin P, Fu C, Miskowiak K, Matthews PM, Zai G, Nicodemus K (2018), “Unravelling the GSK3β-related genotypic interaction network influencing hippocampal volume in recurrent major depressive disorder” Psychiatr Genet 28(5):77-84

    International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation Genetics Collaborative (IOCDF-GC) and OCD Collaborative Genetics Association Studies (OCGAS) (2018), “Revealing the complex genetic architecture of obsessive-compulsive disorder using meta-analysis” Mol Psychiatry 23(5):1181-8

    Lu JY, Tiwari AK, Zai GC, Rastogi A, Shaikh SA, Müller DJ, Voineskos AN, Potkin SG, Lieberman JA, Meltzer HY, Remington G, Wong AHC, Kennedy JL, Zai CC (2018), “Association study of Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia-1 gene variants and Tardive dyskinesia” Neurosci Lett 686:17-22

    Nurnberger Jr JI, Austin J, Berrettini WH, Besterman AD, DeLisi LE, Grice DE, Kennedy JL, Moreno-De-Luca D, Potash JB, Ross DA, Schulze TG, Zai G (2018), “What should a psychiatrist know about genetics? Review and recommendations from the Education Taskforce of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics” J Clin Psychiatry 80(1):pii:17nr12046

    Zai CC, Lee FH, Tiwari AK, Lu JY, de Luca V, Maes MS, Herbert D, Shahmirian A, Cheema SY, Zai GC, Atukuri A, Sherman M, Shaikh SA, Tampakeras M, Freeman N, King N, Müller DJ, Greenbaum L, Lerer B, Voineskos AN, Potkin SG, Lieberman JA, Meltzer HY, Remington G, Kennedy JL (2018), “Investigation of the HSPG2 gene in Tardive dyskinesia - new data and meta-analysis” Front Pharmacol 9:974

    Zai CC, Maes MS, Tiwari AK, Zai G, Remington G, Kennedy JL (2018), “Genetics of Tardive dyskinesia: promising leads and ways forward” J Neurol Sci 389:28-34

    Zai CC, Manchia M, Zai GC, Woo J, Tiwari AK, de Luca V, Kennedy JL (2018), “Association study of BDNF and DRD3 genes with alcohol use disorder in Schizophrenia” Neurosci Lett 671:1-6

    Zai CC, Tiwari AK, Zai GC, de Luca V, Shaikh SA, King N, Strauss J, Kennedy JL, Vincent JB (2018), “Sequence analysis of drug target genes with suicidal behavior in bipolar disorder patients” Mol Neuropsychiatry 4(1):1-6

    Zai CC, Tiwari AK, Zai GC, Maes MS, Kennedy JL (2018), “New findings in pharmacogenetics of schizophrenia” Curr Opin Psychiatry 31(3):200-12

    Zai G, Inkster B, Lewis G, Miskowiak KW (2018), “GSK3-beta: a plausible mechanism of hippocampal changes induced by erythropoietin treatment in mood disorders” Transl Psychiatry 8(1):216

    Zai G, Lisoway AJ, Tiwari AK, Zai CC, Wigg K, Goncalves V, Zhang D, Freeman N, Müller DJ, Kennedy JL, Richter MA (2018), “Pharmacogenetic evaluation of a DISP1 gene variant in antidepressant treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder” Hum Psychopharmacol 33(4):e2659


    Shavitt RG, Requena G, Alonso P, Zai G, Costa DLC, de Bragança Pereira CA, do Rosário MC, Morais I, Fontenelle L, Cappi C, Kennedy J, Menchon JM, Miguel E, Richter PMA (2017), “Quantifying dimensional severity of obsessive-compulsive disorder for neurobiological research” Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 79(Pt B):206-12

    Weidt S, Brühl AB, Delsignore A, Zai G, Kuenburg A, Klaghofer R, Rufer M (2017), “Trichotillomania: the impact of treatment history on the outcome of an internet-based intervention” Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat 13:1153-62

    Zai G, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ, Kennedy JL (2017), “A review of molecular genetic studies of neurocognitive deficits in schizophrenia” Neurosci Biobehav Rev 72:50-67


    Bandelow B, Baldwin D, Abelli M, Altamura C, Dell'Osso B, Domschke K, Fineberg NA, Grünblatt E, Jarema M, Maron E, Nutt D, Pini S, Vaghi MM, Wichniak A, Zai G, Riederer P (2016), “Biological markers for anxiety disorders, OCD and PTSD - a consensus statement. Part I: Neuroimaging and genetics” World J Biol Psychiatry 17(5):321-65

    Cappi C, Brentani H, Lima L, Sanders SJ, Zai G, Diniz BJ, Reis VN, Hounie AG, Conceição do Rosário M, Mariani D, Requena GL, Puga R, Souza-Duran FL, Shavitt RG, Pauls DL, Miguel EC, Fernandez TV (2016), “Whole-exome sequencing in obsessive-compulsive disorder identifies rare mutations in immunological and neurodevelopmental pathways” Transl Psychiatry 6:e764

    Weidt S, Zai G, Drabe N, Delsignore A, Bruehl AB, Klaghofer R, Rufer M (2016), “Affective regulation in trichotillomania before and after self-help interventions” J Psychiatr Res 75:7-13

    Zai G, Alberry B, Arloth J, Bánlaki Z, Bares C, Boot E, Camilo C, Chadha K, Chen Q, Cole CB, Cost KT, Crow M, Ekpor I, Fischer SB, Flatau L, Gagliano S, Kirli U, Kukshal P, Labrie V, Lang M, Lett TA, Maffioletti E, Maier R, Mihaljevic M, Mittal K, Monson ET, O'Brien NL, Østergaard SD, Ovenden E, Patel S, Peterson RE, Pouget JG, Rovaris DL, Seaman L, Shankarappa B, Tsetsos F, Vereczkei A, Wang C, Xulu K, Yuen RK, Zhao J, Zai CC, Kennedy JL (2016), “Rapporteur summaries of plenary, symposia, and oral sessions from the XXIIIrd World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics Meeting in Toronto, Canada, 16-20 October 2015” Psychiatr Genet 26(6):229-57


    Phillips KA, Zai G, King NA, Menard W, Kennedy JL, Richter MA (2015), “A preliminary candidate gene study in body dysmorphic disorder” J Obsessive Compuls Relat Disord 6:72-6

    Zai G, Zai CC, Arnold PD, Freeman N, Burroughs E, Kennedy JL, Richter MA (2015), “Meta-analysis and association of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene with obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Psychiatr Genet 25(2):95-6 Details


    Lanktree MB, Zai G, Vanderbeek LE, Giuffra DE, Smithson DS, Kipp LB, Dalseg TR, Speechley M, Kennedy JL (2014), “Positive perception of pharmacogenetic testing for psychotropic medications.” Hum Psychopharmacol 29(3):287-91 Details

    Zai CC, Manchia M, Sønderby IE, Yilmaz Z, De Luca V, Tiwari AK, Squassina A, Zai GC, Shaikh SA, Strauss J, King N, Le Foll B, Kaplan AS, Finseth PI, Vaaler AE, Djurovic S, Andreassen OA, Vincent JB, Kennedy JL (2014), “Investigation of the genetic interaction between BDNF and DRD3 genes in suicidical behaviour in psychiatric disorders.” World J Biol Psychiatry :1-9 Details

    Zai CC, Zai GC, Tiwari AK, Manchia M, de Luca V, Shaikh SA, Strauss J, Kennedy JL (2014), “Association study of GABRG2 polymorphisms with suicidal behaviour in schizophrenia patients with alcohol use disorder.” Neuropsychobiology 69(3):154-8 Details

    Zai G, Brandl EJ, Müller DJ, Richter MA, Kennedy JL (2014), “Pharmacogenetics of antidepressant treatment in obsessive-compulsive disorder: an update and implications for clinicians.” Pharmacogenomics 15(8):1147-57 Details


    Dai N, Foldager L, Gallego JA, Hack LM, Ji Y, Lett TA, Liu BC, Loken EK, Mandelli L, Mehta D, Power RA, Sprooten E, Stephens SH, Paska AV, Yan J, Zai CC, Zai G, Zhang-James Y, O'Shea A, Delisi LE (2012), “Summaries from the XIX World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics, Washington, DC, September 10-14, 2011.” Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet 159B(1):128-9 Details

    Zai CC, Manchia M, De Luca V, Tiwari AK, Chowdhury NI, Zai GC, Tong RP, Yilmaz Z, Shaikh SA, Strauss J, Kennedy JL (2012), “The brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene in suicidal behaviour: a meta-analysis.” Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 15(8):1037-42 Details

    Zai G, Sicard T, Burroughs E, Kennedy JL, Richter MA (2012), “An exploration of the oligodendrocyte lineage transcription factor 2 gene and obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Psychiatr Genet 22(3):149 Details

    Zai GC, Zai CC, Chowdhury NI, Tiwari AK, Souza RP, Lieberman JA, Meltzer HY, Potkin SG, Müller DJ, Kennedy JL (2012), “The role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene variants in antipsychotic response and antipsychotic-induced weight gain.” Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 39(1):96-101 Details


    Zai G, Zai C, Tiwari A, King N, Braithwaite J, van Tol H, Kennedy JL (2011), “Weak association of the platelet-derived growth factor beta (PDGFB) and PDGF receptor beta (PDGFRB) genes with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.” World J Biol Psychiatry 12(2):127-33 Details


    Zai CC, Manchia M, De Luca V, Tiwari AK, Squassina A, Zai GC, Strauss J, Shaikh SA, Freeman N, Meltzer HY, Lieberman J, Le Foll B, Kennedy JL (2010), “Association study of BDNF and DRD3 genes in schizophrenia diagnosis using matched case-control and family based study designs.” Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 34(8):1412-8 Details


    Richter MA, Zai G, McBride JC, Mundo E, Swinson RP, Kennedy JL (2009), “The GABA(A)-receptor γ2 (GABRG2) gene in obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Rev Bras Psiquiatr 31(4):328-31 Details

    Zai CC, Tiwari AK, De Luca V, Müller DJ, Bulgin N, Hwang R, Zai GC, King N, Voineskos AN, Meltzer HY, Lieberman JA, Potkin SG, Remington G, Kennedy JL (2009), “Genetic study of BDNF, DRD3, and their interaction in tardive dyskinesia.” Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 19(5):317-28 Details


    Voineskos AN, Lang DJ, Zai G, Bulgin N, Shaikh S, Su W, Kopala LC, MacEwan GW, Thornton AE, Smith GN, Austin JC, Honer WG, Kennedy JL (2008), “MAG gene variation and cortical gray matter volume in first episode schizophrenia” Brain Imaging Behav 2(2):117-22

    Zai CC, Romano-Silva MA, Hwang R, Zai GC, Deluca V, Müller DJ, King N, Voineskos AN, Meltzer HY, Lieberman JA, Potkin SG, Remington G, Kennedy JL (2008), “Genetic study of eight AKT1 gene polymorphisms and their interaction with DRD2 gene polymorphisms in tardive dyskinesia.” Schizophr Res 106(2-3):248-52 Details


    Shinkai T, De Luca V, Hwang R, Müller DJ, Lanktree M, Zai G, Shaikh S, Wong G, Sicard T, Potapova N, Trakalo J, King N, Matsumoto C, Hori H, Wong AH, Ohmori O, Macciardi F, Nakamura J, Kennedy JL (2007), “Association analyses of the DAOA/G30 and D-amino-acid oxidase genes in schizophrenia: further evidence for a role in schizophrenia.” Neuromolecular Med 9(2):169-77 Details

    Zai CC, Hwang RW, De Luca V, Müller DJ, King N, Zai GC, Remington G, Meltzer HY, Lieberman JA, Potkin SG, Kennedy JL (2007), “Association study of tardive dyskinesia and twelve DRD2 polymorphisms in schizophrenia patients.” Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 10(5):639-51 Details

    Zai G, Mundo E, Strauss J, Wong GW, Kennedy JL (2007), “Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene not associated with antidepressant-induced mania.” Bipolar Disord 9(5):521-5 Details


    De Luca V, Zai G, Tharmalingam S, de Bartolomeis A, Wong G, Kennedy JL (2006), “Association study between the novel functional polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene and suicidal behaviour in schizophrenia.” Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 16(4):268-71 Details

    Shinkai T, Müller DJ, De Luca V, Shaikh S, Matsumoto C, Hwang R, King N, Trakalo J, Potapova N, Zai G, Hori H, Ohmori O, Meltzer HY, Nakamura J, Kennedy JL (2006), “Genetic association analysis of the glutathione peroxidase (GPX1) gene polymorphism (Pro197Leu) with tardive dyskinesia.” Psychiatry Res 141(2):123-8 Details

    Zai G, Arnold PD, Burroughs E, Richter MA, Kennedy JL (2006), “Tumor necrosis factor-alpha gene is not associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Psychiatr Genet 16(1):43-5 Details

    Zai G, Müller DJ, Volavka J, Czobor P, Lieberman JA, Meltzer HY, Kennedy JL (2006), “Family and case-control association study of the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) gene with schizophrenia and response to antipsychotic medication.” Psychopharmacology (Berl) 188(2):171-82 Details


    Zai G, Arnold P, Burroughs E, Barr CL, Richter MA, Kennedy JL (2005), “Evidence for the gamma-amino-butyric acid type B receptor 1 (GABBR1) gene as a susceptibility factor in obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet 134B(1):25-9 Details

    Zai G, Arnold P, Strauss J, King N, Burroughs E, Richter MA, Kennedy JL (2005), “No association between brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene and obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Psychiatr Genet 15(4):235 Details

    Zai G, King N, Wigg K, Couto J, Wong GW, Honer WG, Barr CL, Kennedy JL (2005), “Genetic study of the myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) gene in schizophrenia.” Genes Brain Behav 4(1):2-9 Details

    Zai G, King N, Wong GW, Barr CL, Kennedy JL (2005), “Possible association between the gamma-aminobutyric acid type B receptor 1 (GABBR1) gene and schizophrenia.” Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 15(3):347-52 Details


    Arnold PD, Zai G, Richter MA (2004), “Genetics of anxiety disorders.” Curr Psychiatry Rep 6(4):243-54 Details

    Shinkai T, De Luca V, Zai G, Shaikh S, Matsumoto C, Arnold PD, Hwang R, King N, Trakalo J, Potapova N, Wong G, Hori H, Wong AH, Ohmori O, Nakamura J, Kennedy JL (2004), “No association between the Pro197Leu polymorphism in the glutathione peroxidase (GPX1) gene and schizophrenia.” Psychiatr Genet 14(3):177-80 Details

    Zai G, Bezchlibnyk YB, Richter MA, Arnold P, Burroughs E, Barr CL, Kennedy JL (2004), “Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) gene is associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet 129B(1):64-8 Details


    Mundo E, Richter MA, Zai G, Sam F, McBride J, Macciardi F, Kennedy JL (2002), “5HT1Dbeta Receptor gene implicated in the pathogenesis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: further evidence from a family-based association study.” Mol Psychiatry 7(7):805-9 Details

    Wigg K, Zai G, Schachar R, Tannock R, Roberts W, Malone M, Kennedy JL, Barr CL (2002), “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the gene for dopamine Beta-hydroxylase.” Am J Psychiatry 159(6):1046-8 Details


    Barr CL, Wigg K, Zai G, Roberts W, Malone M, Schachar R, Tannock R, Kennedy JL (2001), “Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and the adrenergic receptors alpha 1C and alpha 2C.” Mol Psychiatry 6(3):334-7 Details

    Barr CL, Xu C, Kroft J, Feng Y, Wigg K, Zai G, Tannock R, Schachar R, Malone M, Roberts W, Nöthen MM, Grünhage F, Vandenbergh DJ, Uhl G, Sunohara G, King N, Kennedy JL (2001), “Haplotype study of three polymorphisms at the dopamine transporter locus confirm linkage to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.” Biol Psychiatry 49(4):333-9 Details

    Mundo E, Zai G, Lee L, Parikh SV, Kennedy JL (2001), “The 5HT1Dbeta receptor gene in bipolar disorder: a family-based association study.” Neuropsychopharmacology 25(4):608-13 Details


    Barr CL, Wigg KG, Feng Y, Zai G, Malone M, Roberts W, Schachar R, Tannock R, Kennedy JL (2000), “Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and the gene for the dopamine D5 receptor.” Mol Psychiatry 5(5):548-51 Details