Virginia Commonwealth University

Make it real.

Featured Researcher

Research Expertise and Focus

  • Epidemiology, genetics and neuroimaging of anxiety and depressive disorders
  • A Twin Study of Negative Valence Emotional Constructs. Funded 2012-2015, R01MH098055 National Institute of Mental Health. Principal investigator
  • The Role of Genes and Environment in Anxiety Spectrum Disorders. Funded 2010-2014, R01MH087646 (Hettema) National Institute of Mental Health. Principal investigator
  • The Classification of Anxiety and Mood Disorders. Funded 2007-2013, R01 MH039096 (PI: Brown, Boston University) National Institute of Mental Health. Principal investigator (subcontract)

Professional Highlights

Memberships and Leadership

  • Scientific Advisory Board, Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA)


  • ACNP Young Investigator Memorial Travel Award, 2006
  • Pfizer/Society for Women’s Health Research Scholar, 2001


  • Editorial Board, Depression & Anxiety


  • Staff psychiatrist (part time), Chesterfield County CSB, Chesterfield, Va., 1998-present
  • Medical officer (part time), Central State Hospital, Petersburg, Va., 1998-2000
  • House staff officer in psychiatry, MCV Hospitals, Richmond, Va., 1996-2000


Education and Training

  • M.D., Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Ph.D., physics, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
  • B.S. applied physics, Columbia University, New York
  • Residency in psychiatry, VCU Medical Center


  • National Institute of Mental Health Research Fellow, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University

Selected Publications

Davies MN, Verdi S, Burri A, Trzaskowski M, Lee M, Hettema JM, Jansen R, Boomsma DI, Spector TD. Generalised anxiety disorder–A twin study of genetic architecture, genome-wide association and differential gene expression. PLoS One. 2015 Aug 14; 10(8): e0134865. PMCID: PMC4537268

Genetics of Personality Consortium, de Moor MH, van den Berg SM, Verweij KJ, Krueger RF, Luciano M, Arias Vasquez A, Matteson LK, Derringer J, Esko T, Amin N, Gordon SD, Hansell NK, Hart AB, Seppala I, Hettema JM, et al. Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for neuroticism, and the polygenic association with major depressive disorder. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Jul; 72(7): 642-650. PMCID: PMC4667957

Bergin J, Verhulst B, Aggen SH, Neale MC, Kendler KS, Bienvenu OJ, Hettema JM. Obsessive compulsive symptom dimensions and neuroticism: An examination of shared genetic and environmental risk. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2014 Dec; 165B(8): 647-653. PMCID: PMC4388329

Otowa T, York TP, Gardner CO, Kendler KS, Hettema JM. The impact of childhood parental loss on risk for mood, anxiety and substance use disorders in a population-based sample of male twins. Psychiatry Res. 2014 Dec 15; 220(1-2): 404-409. PMCID: PMC4385714

Loken EK, Hettema JM, Aggen SH, Kendler KS. The structure of genetic and environmental risk factors for fears and phobias. Psychol Med. 2014 Aug; 44(11): 2375-2384. PMCID: PMC4079768

Otowa T, Gardner CO, Kendler KS, Hettema JM. Parenting and risk for mood, anxiety and substance use disorders: A study in population-based male twins. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2013 Nov; 48(11): 1841-1849. PMCID: PMC3661760

Hettema JM, An SS, van den Oord EJ, Neale MC, Kendler KS, Chen X. Genetic association between RGS1 and internalizing disorders. Psychiatr Genet. 2013 Apr; 23(2): 56-60. PMCID: PMC3606916

Webb BT, Guo AY, Maher BS, Zhao Z, van den Oord EJ, Kendler KS, Riley BP, Gillespie NA, Prescott CA, Middeldorp CM, Willemsen G, de Geus EJ, Hottenga JJ, Boomsma DI, Slagboom EP, Hettema JM, et al. Meta-analyses of genome-wide linkage scans of anxiety-related phenotypes. Eur J Hum Genet. 2012 Oct; 20(10): 1078-1084. PMCID: PMC3449070

Adkins DE, Clark SL, Åberg K, Hettema JM, Bukszár , McClay JL, Souza RP, van den Oord ECJG. Genome-wide pharmacogenomic study of citalopram-induced side effects in STAR*D. Transl Psychiatry. 2012 Jul; 2(7): e129. PMCID: PMC3410623

Clark SL, Adkins DE, Aberg K, Hettema JM, McClay JL, Souza RP, van den Oord EJ. Pharmacogenomic study of side-effects for antidepressant treatment options in STAR*D. Psychol Med. 2012 Jun; 42(6): 1151-1162. PMCID: PMC3627503

Roberson-Nay R, Eaves LJ, Hettema JM, Kendler KS, Silberg JL. Childhood separation anxiety disorder and adult onset panic attacks share a common genetic diathesis. Depress Anxiety. 2012 Apr; 29(4): 320-327. PMCID: PMC4542089

Hettema JM, Kettenmann B, Ahluwalia V, McCarthy C, Kates WR, Schmitt JE, Silberg JL, Neale MC, Kendler KS, Fatouros P. Pilot multimodal twin imaging study of generalized anxiety disorder. Depress Anxiety. 2012 Mar; 29(3): 202-209. PMCID: PMC3258467

Libert S, Pointer K, Bell EL, Das A, Cohen DE, Asara JM, Kapur K, Bergmann S, Preisig M, Otowa T, Kendler KS, Chen X, Hettema JM, van den Oord EJ, Rubio JP, Guarente L.SIRT1 activates MAO-A in the brain to mediate anxiety and exploratory drive. Cell. 2011 Dec 23;147(7): 1459–72. PMCID: PMC3443638

Hettema JM, Webb BT, Guo AY, Zhao Z, Maher BS, Chen X, An SS, Sun C, Aggen SH, Kendler KS, Kuo PH, Otowa T, Flint J, van den Oord EJ. Prioritization and association analysis of murine-derived candidate genes in anxiety-spectrum disorders. Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Nov 1;70(9):888-96. PMCID: PMC3191234

Maher BS, Vladimirov VI, Latendresse SJ, Thiselton DL, McNamee R, Kang M, Bigdeli TB, Chen X, Riley BP, Hettema JM, Chilcoat H, Heidbreder C, Muglia P, Murrelle EL, Dick DM, Hettema JM, et al. The AVPR1A gene and substance use disorders: Association, replication, and functional evidence. Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Sep 15; 70(6): 519-527. PMCID: PMC4083653

Adkins DE, Åberg K, McClay JL, Hettema JM, Kornstein SG, Bukszár J, van den Oord EJCG. A genomewide association study of citalopram response in major depressive disorder-a psychometric approach. Biol Psychiatry. Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Sep 15;68(6):e25-7. PMCID: PMC2929324

Middeldorp CM, Vink JM, Hettema JM, de Geus EJC, Kendler KS, Willemsen G, Neale MC, Boomsma DI, Chen X. An association between Epac-1 gene variants and anxiety and depression in two independent samples. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2010 Jan 5;153B(1):214-9. PMCID: PMC2798914

Hettema JM, An SS, van den Oord JCG, Neale MC, Kendler KS, Chen X. Association study of CREB1 with Major Depressive Disorder and related phenotypes. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2009 Dec 5;150B(8):1128-32. PMCID: PMC2844886

Chen X, Chen J, Williamson VS, An SS, Hettema JM, Aggen SH, Neale MC, Kendler KS. Variants in nicotinic acetylcholine receptors alpha5 and alpha3 increase risks to nicotine dependence. Am.J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2009 Oct 5; 150B(7): 926-933. PMCID: PMC3081884

Hettema JM, van den Oord EJ, An S, Kendler KS, Chen X. Follow-up association study of novel neuroticism gene MAMDC1.  Psychiatr Genet. 2009 Aug;19(4):213-4. PMCID: PMC2844892

Pham X, Sun C, Chen X, van den Oord EJ, Neale MC, Kendler KS, Hettema JM. Association study between GABA receptor genes and anxiety spectrum disorders. Depress.Anxiety. 2009; 26(11): 998-1003. PMCID: PMC2783721

Kubarych TS, Aggen SH, Hettema JM, Kendler KS, Neale MC. Assessment of generalized anxiety disorder diagnostic criteria in the national comorbidity survey and virginia adult twin study of psychiatric and substance use disorders. Psychol Assess. 2008 Sep; 20(3): 206-216. PMCID: PMC2844897

Hettema JM, An SS, Bukszar J, van den Oord EJ, Neale MC, Kendler KS, Chen X. Catechol-O-methyltransferase contributes to genetic susceptibility shared among anxiety spectrum phenotypes. Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Aug 15; 64(4): 302-310. PMCID: PMC2597663

Chen X, Williamson VS, An SS, Hettema JM, Aggen SH, Neale MC, Kendler KS. Cannabinoid receptor 1 gene association with nicotine dependence. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008 Jul; 65(7): 816-824. PMCID: PMC2733353

Hettema JM, An SS, van den Oord EJ, Neale MC, Kendler KS, Chen X. Association study between the serotonin 1A receptor (HTR1A) gene and neuroticism, major depression, and anxiety disorders. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2008 Jul 5; 147B(5): 661-666. PMCID: PMC2859302

Hettema JM, Annas P, Neale MC, Fredrikson M, Kendler KS. The genetic covariation between fear conditioning and self-report fears. Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Mar 15; 63(6): 587-593. PMCID: PMC2268873