Carl Ernst

Human Neuroscience

Carl Ernst

F-2101.2, Frank B. Common Pavilion

6875 Boulevard LaSalle
Montréal, QC
H4H 1R3

(514) 761-6131 x3382

(514) 762-3023

Research area: 
Basic Neuroscience / Animal Research

Research Theme: 
Psychosis and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Canada Research Chair in Psychiatric Genetics - Tier 2

Researcher, Douglas Research Centre
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University

Genetic and epigenetic variation associated with neurodevelopmental disorders

There are two main themes in the lab:
1) Identification of genetic variation associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. This involves recruiting patients and their families, collecting blood, skin, and possibly other tissue samples, and using high throughput technologies to identify genetic variation. We work collaboratively with families that choose to share their stories with us.
Generally, we receive referrals from Children's hospitals in Canada where current genetic analyses at these facilities have failed to identify any variant of interest. We take a comprehensive approach to each case. Once a genetic variant that might cause disease has been identified by our group, we convert patient skin cells to neurons using state-of-the-art stem cell biology techniques which allows us to study the function of the genetic variant in brain-like cells. Working closely with the Brain Bank at the Douglas hospital, we ask families to consider brain donation as well, depending on their own particular circumstances, which can significantly improve our understanding of the biology of neurodevelopmental disease.
2) Epigenetic studies of genomic regulation. Using human brain tissue, blood samples, or neural stem cells we study how modifications to the genome such as DNA methylation regulate gene expression patterns and cell function.

Blumenthal I., Ragavendran A., Erdin S., Klei L., Sugathan A., Guide J. R., Manavalan P., Zhou J. Q., Wheeler V. C., Levin J. Z., Ernst C., Roeder K., Devlin B., Gusella J. F., Talkowski M. E. (2014). Transcriptional consequences of 16p11.2 deletion and duplication in mouse cortex and multiplex autism families, Am J Hum Genet, 94(6), 870-83.
Chen E. S., Gigek C. O., Rosenfeld J. A., Diallo A. B., Maussion G., Chen G. G., Vaillancourt K., Lopez J. P., Crapper L., Poujol R., Shaffer L. G., Bourque G., Ernst C. (2014). Molecular Convergence of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Am J Hum Genet.
Chen G. G., Diallo A. B., Poujol R., Nagy C., Staffa A., Vaillancourt K., Lutz P. E., Ota V. K., Mash D. C., Turecki G., Ernst C. (2014). BisQC: an operational pipeline for multiplexed bisulfite sequencing, BMC Genomics, 15, 290.
Nagy C., Suderman M., Yang J., Szyf M., Mechawar N., Ernst C., Turecki G. (2014). Astrocytic abnormalities and global DNA methylation patterns in depression and suicide, Mol Psychiatry.
Ernst C., Morton C. C. (2013). Identification and function of long non-coding RNA, Front Cell Neurosci, 7, 168.
Lindgren A. M., Hoyos T., Talkowski M. E., Hanscom C., Blumenthal I., Chiang C., Ernst C., Pereira S., Ordulu Z., Clericuzio C., Drautz J. M., Rosenfeld J. A., Shaffer L. G., Velsher L., Pynn T., Vermeesch J., Harris D. J., Gusella J. F., Liao E. C., Morton C. C. (2013). Haploinsufficiency of KDM6A is associated with severe psychomotor retardation, global growth restriction, seizures and cleft palate, Human genetics, 132(5), 537-52.
Lopez J.P., Mamdani F., Labonte B., Beaulieu M.M., Yang J.P., Berlim M., Ernst C., Turecki G. (2013). Epigenetic regulation of BDNF expression according to antidepressant response, Mol Psychiatry, 18(4), 398-9.
Ruderfer D.M., Chambert K., Moran J., Talkowski M., Chen E.S., Gigek C., Gusella J.F., Blackwood D.H., Corvin A., Gurling H.M., Hultman C.M., Kirov G., Magnusson P., O'Donovan M.C., Owen M.J., Pato C., St Clair D., Sullivan P.F., Purcell S.M., Sklar P., Ernst C. (2013). Mosaic copy number variation in schizophrenia, Eur J Hum Genet.

Canada Research Chair (Tier 2)
Tier 2 Chairs, tenable for five years and renewable once, are for exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field.

AFSP Young Investigator Award
This award is given by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to encourage talented new investigators to enter the field of suicide research through grants that provide training support and mentoring.

CIHR Bisby Award

Recent publications

  • Douglas Hospital
  • Dobell Pavillion
  • Brain imaging centre