Flagship Project


The goal of the LabWAS workgroup is to leverage clinical lab tests stored in EHRs to understand the relationship between genetic risk for psychiatric disorders and quantitative physiological measurements.


At Vanderbilt, we developed a pipeline to clean and analyze thousands of lab traits stored in EHRs, QualityLab and LabWAS. We conducted proof-of-principle analyses at Vanderbilt and MGB demonstrating cardiovascular disease polygenic scores associated with known risk factors using the cleaned lab values.


Our current project focuses on understanding the relationship between depression polygenic scores and an immune trait, white blood cell count. In analyses across 4 systems (VUMC, MGB, MVP, MSSM), depression PGS associated with increased WBC, and mediation analyses suggest a bidirectional relationship between the traits.


Overall, our projects can help highlight biology affected by psychiatric genetics and motivate development of clinical diagnostic markers and targeted treatment.

Dennis JK, Sealock JM, Straub P, Lee YH, Hucks D, Actkins K, Faucon A, Feng YA, Ge T, Goleva SB, Niarchou M, Singh K, Morley T, Smoller JW, Ruderfer DM, Mosley JD, Chen G, Davis LK. Clinical laboratory test-wide association scan of polygenic scores identifies biomarkers of complex disease. Genome Med. 2021 Jan 13;13(1):6. doi: 10.1186/s13073-020-00820-8. PMID: 33441150; PMCID: PMC7807864.