Faculty Profile: Rohan Palmer, PhD, BS, AS

Rohan Palmer, PhD, BS, AS
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (Research)
Bio Med Psychiatry & Human Behavior
Work: 401-793-8395
Dr. Palmer's research interests include the genetic and epigenetic characterization of the liability to alcohol use and dependence, as well nicotine, and illicit drug addiction and comorbid externalizing disorders. His NIAAA sponsored K01 (AA021113) focuses on the development and application of novel, systems-focused, computational techniques for genomewide association studies of alcohol dependence.


Dr. Palmer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior in the Alpert Medical School. He completed his PhD in Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2010. In 2012, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship under Dr. Valerie Knopik in antecedents of addiction and psychiatric genetics at Rhode Island Hospital. Dr. Palmer joined the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior's faculty in 2012.

Research Description

Dr. Palmer's programmatic line of research is in the genetics of alcohol dependence and related phenotypes (AD). Given that gene identification studies (in particular genomewide association studies) on alcoholism are challenged by the fact that alcoholism is a multifactorial disorder influenced by multiple interacting genes, each with small effect, the public health relevance for deriving new analytical strategies and statistical methods is substantial. Dr. Palmer's research aligns with the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's plan to "Identify genes associated with vulnerability for alcohol dependence by employing new and emerging technologies, on samples from study populations previously recruited for genetic research on alcohol dependence". Using network and whole genome association approaches, Dr. Palmer research seeks to describe the joint distribution of genetic effects that comprise specific neural or molecular pathways that underlie alcohol dependence.

Grants and Awards

Research – New Investigator Award Finalist: Clinical Science Category. Rhode Island Hospital's 18th Annual Hospital Research Celebration

National Institute of Health Loan Repayment Program, NIDA (2011-2013; L30 DA032090), Title: Genes, Environment and the Development of Drug Abuse and Externalizing Disorders

National Institute of Health Loan Repayment Program (Renewal), NCATS (2013-2015), Title: The Relationship between Executive Function, Substance Misuse, and Disinhibitory Psychopathology in Children Differentially Exposed to Tobacco in utero


Behavior Genetics Association
Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society
Phi Theta Kappa – Alpha Theta Theta Chapter Alumni
Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science
Research Society on Alcoholism
National Institute of Health Loan Repayment Program Ambassador
The College on Problems of Drug Dependence

Funded Research

Ongoing Support
National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Title: System Genetics of Alcoholism: Network-based Approaches for Genetic Association
Role: Principal Investigator
Mentors: Valerie S. Knopik (PhD), John E. McGeary (PhD), Arthur Lander (PhD), Benjamin Raphael (PhD), Andrew Heath (PhD), Ming D. Li (PhD), Charles E. Lawrence (PhD), Robert Hitzemann (PhD)
Status: Funded
Proposed Funding Period: 08/20/12 – 07/31/17

Completed Support
National Institute of Drug Abuse:
Research Associate (5R01DA023134-04)
Title: Prenatal Tobacco Exposure: Effects on Neuropsychological Outcomes and ADHD
Role: Research Associate (PI: Knopik, Valerie, Ph.D.)
Status: Funded
Funding Period: 06/12 – 8/12

National Institute of Mental Health:
Post-Doctoral National Research Service Award (T32 MH019927-18)
Title: Research Training – Child Mental Health (Behavior Genetics)
Role: Postdoctoral Fellow (PI: Fritz, Gregory, M.D.)
Status: Funded
Funding Period: 07/10 – 05/12

National Institute of Mental Health – National Institutes of Health:
Institutional Training Grant (T31 MH 16880)
Title: Research Training – Behavioral Genetics
Role: Pre-doctoral Trainee (PI: John Hewitt, Ph.D.)
Status: Completed
Funding Period: 06/05 – 05/10

Selected Publications

  • Genetic etiology of the common liability to drug dependence: Evidence of common and specific mechanisms for DSM-IV dependence symptoms. (2012)