The Athey Lab

Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics 

University of Michigan Medical School

Brian Athey, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator 

Current Research Focus

My current research program is focused on the discovery, clinical validation, and translation of next-generation psychiatric pharmacogenomics science and methods. We are considered to be the inventor of the new field of “pharmacoepigenomics”, where we have over 25 publications, 4 issued and 6 provisional US patents, and 2 allowed international patents and 38 pending.

With sponsorship from our UM Athey-lab spinoff Phenomics Health Inc. (proposal in review)

Feasibility determination of retrospective clinical validation and extension of pharmacogenomics assays using patient-specific data and analytics empowered by Machine Learning/AI platform(s)

Abstract Current prospective pharmacogenomics (PGx) clinical trials are expensive, time consuming, and have inherently low power for pharmacogenomic studies. In addition, Generation-1 SNP-based PGx genotyping assays are limited by many factors including a limited pharmacogene SNP biomarker list and the associated biomarkers assayed (set by FDA/CPIC/PharmVar); as well as by the rudimentary nature of the currently used genotype-measurement-to-reporting paradigm. This proposed contract will systematically address these issues to develop, test, refine, and deliver a set of interoperable 2nd and 3rd generation PGx platforms leveraging 4 inter-related projects, listed below. Additionally, the projects will set the stage to evaluate existing pharmacometabolomics (PMx) and develop a new 3rd generation whole genome PGx measurement and analysis method.  For all 4 projects we will utilize the Michigan Genomics Initiative (MGI) data resources in the context of the UMHS EHR for these projects. We will also use the Prechter Bipolar Biorepository data resources to create training sets, leveraging its’ deeper phenotyping and rich longitudinal records.  The IRB application to allow for this study to be initiated has been submitted (HUM00231342).  We will also be utilizing the Michigan Genomics Initiative (MGI HUM00071298) and Prechter Bipolar Biorepository, Knowledge Base, and Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder (HUM00000606); participating members of the Athey Laboratory are already listed on this IRB).  All relevant UM COI disclosures related to this proposal are complete and up to date.

With Sponsorship from the UM-PUHSC Joint Institute

Presently, in Year-1, we are developing an optimized Bipolar Disorder 1 PGx test and method to implement at PUHSC. PUHSC is working to design a 2-armed SMART clinical trial, determining the number of patients needed to power the study, will develop the recruitment plan for BPD-1 participants, and prepare to implement the UM-developed PGx test locally in year-2. UM and PUHSC are collaborating to determine best approach to determine the medication response phenotype (efficacy and ADR/AE) for BDP-1 patients and how best to measure medication response and mania reduction (using YRMS scoring methods) and to determine best endpoints of success for use in the clinical trial to be initiated in year-2.

In Year-2, PUHSC will launch BPD-1 medication response SMART trial and will measure patient biomarkers prior to medication administration and will send genomic measurement results back to UM. UM will provide test results back to PUHSC within 3 days. PUHSC will utilize these results to implement the SMART medication response trial, maintaining the results locally in the PUHSC JI Biomedical Informatics Core.

Additional Research Projects with Sponsorship by NIH and NSF

NIH VIOLIN 2.0: Vaccine Information and Ontology Linked Knowledge-base

Major Goals: To promote community-wide data/metadata standardization and analysis, advance the understanding of the vaccine mechanisms, and support rational vaccine mechanism study and rational vaccine design against various infectious diseases, leading to safer public health

Status of Support: Pending

Project Number: 21-PAF02075

Name of PD/PI: He, Oliver, Co-I, Athey

NIH The role of epithelial barrier dysfunction in food anaphylaxis

Major Goals: Food allergy affects nearly 10% of the United States population, and misdiagnosis leads to difficult, anxiety provoking, and growth-limiting food avoidance. Current diagnostic tools are fraught with inaccuracy or require ingesting possible food allergens under medical monitoring, which is cumbersome, risky, and costly. The goal of this project is to understand the role of leaky skin and gut barriers in food allergy to develop more accurate and less onerous tests to diagnose food allergy.

Status of Support: Active

Project Number: F065420

Name of PD/PI: PI Chase Schuler, Co-I, Athey

NIH University of Michigan O’Brien Kidney Translational Core Center

Major Goals: Supports the translational pipeline providing resources to investigators in our Institutional and International Research Bases: 1.) Expands our unique CKD cohort combined with its longitudinal tissue, urine and serum biobanks to allow our research base investigators to investigate the molecular causes and endpoints of chronic kidney diseases; 2.) Disseminates and supports modern and powerful systems biological approaches for investigators to help them identify novel and robust biomarkers, endpoints and targets for diagnosis and treatment of CKD; 3.) Expert analysis and integration of cohort and systems data for our investigators using sophisticated bioinformatics and database integration that promote identification of specific pathways and targets for treatments for individuals or groups of subjects with CKD.

Note: I am not involved with individuals, funding, or data from outside countries on this grant.

Trainees and faculty participating in this project may be from various countries. None is currently paid under my supervision.

Status of Support: Active

Project Number: P30 DK081943

Name of PD/PI: Pennathur, Sub; Co-I Athey

NSF Medium Collaborative Research: Multi-level computational approaches to protein function prediction

Major Goals: This project seeks to develop new methods and databases to annotate biological functions of protein molecules

Status of Support: Active

Project Number: 1901191

Name of PD/PI: PI Athey 

Work Titles

Michael Savageau Collegiate Professor & Chair

Department of Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics

Professor of Psychiatry

University of Michigan



Ph.D., Biophysics, University of Michigan (1990)

B.S., University of Michigan-Dearborn; Dearborn, MI (1982)

Classical Studies, St. Johns College, Annapolis, MD (1976-1977)


1991-1993  NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship

1990-1991 NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship

Contact Information

Work Email Address:


DCMB Website

MI Experts Profile

Fax Number:


Office Number:


Administrative Contact

Theresa Nester

Lab Address:

NCRC Building 520, Room 3393

1600 Huron Parkway

Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Office Address:

2017F Palmer Commons

100 Washtenaw Ave.

Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2218

Athey Lab Members

Brian Athey, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator Michael Savageau Collegiate Professor & ChairDepartment of Computational Medicine & BioinformaticsProfessor of PsychiatryUniversity of Michigan
Veerabhadran Baladandayuthapani, Ph.D.
Professor of Biostatistics Professor of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics
Lars Fritsche, Ph.D.
Associate Research Scientist of Biostatistics
Gerry Higgins, Ph.D.
Adjunct Research Professor of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics
Monica Holmes, M.S.
Ph.D. Student in Bioinformatics and Research Specialist
Qingzhi Liu
Ph.D. Student in Biostatistics
Alex Ade, M.S.
Applications Programmer/Analyst 
Alex Kalinin, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral FellowBroad Institute, Cambridge MA
Xinhai Hou (Renly)
Ph.D. Student in Bioinformatics


Conference Proceedings

Peer-reviewed Electronic Publications

Book Chapters