Robert A. Philibert, MD, PhD


Professor of Psychiatry
Professor of Bioengineering

Contact Information

Office: 2-126B Medical Education Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-353-4986



BS, Biology, Ambrose College, Davenport, IA
MD, Medicine, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA
PhD, Neuroscience, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA

Residency, Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Post Doctorate, Pharmacology, NIH, Bethesda, MD
Fellowship, Clinical Neuroscience, Clinical Neuroscience Branch, NIMH, Bethesda, MD

Licensure and Certifications

Medical license, Georgia Composite Medical Board
Psychiatry certification, American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Research Summary

I have three major foci of research in my laboratory. The first focus is molecular gene-environment (GxE) studies of large longitudinal cohorts. The second focus is centered on my work with MED12 in human health and behavior. The third area is the development of transcriptional profiling techniques in behavioral health. Molecular Studies of GxE Effects in Behavioral Illness. The importance of GxE effects in complex behavior illnesses has become increasingly appreciated over the past several years. In order to study these interactions, I have assembled one of the largest collections of biomaterial from longitudinal cohorts in the United States. From these individual, my group has prepared DNA, RNA and cell lines for each of the individuals in the study. Using these materials, we are taking a radical approach by using our lymphoblast cell models to construct an integrated view of gene variation, methylation, mRNA expression and clinical phenotype for each individual study. For example, in a direct follow-up to our earlier study that described and characterized the role of a CpG island that regulates mRNA transcription from the serotonin transporter (5HTT, SLC6A4; U.S. Patent pending) locus we have submitted a manuscript which will detail the relationship of each SNP, haplotype, CpG residue methylation status at this locus with mRNA expression and clinical phenotype at this locus. The Role of MED12 (HOPA) In Human Health and Behavior MED12 regulates monoaminergic neurodifferentiation. Our group has identified and patented a protein variant which alters dopaminergic cell fate and increases risk for psychosis. In the past several years, my laboratory has gained increasing traction on the understanding of the differential biology associated by coupling our clinical studies this gene variant with more basic approaches using stable, doubly transfected, inducible PC63 cell lines and our newly developed transcriptional profiling techniques. This approach has been extremely productive with nduction of constructs antagonizing Opa domain function alters PC63 morphology. Most excitingly, transcriptional profiling of lymphoblast cell lines derived from psychotic subjects with the HOPA12bp demonstrates a differential expression profile that implicates Wnt dysfunction. This fall we have begun direct translation of these finding into humans and have begun construction of transgenic human embryonic stems, a first here at the University of Iowa. Transcriptional Profiling in Neuropsychiatric Syndromes. The Holy Grail in most medical disciplines is to define the biological diatheses for illness. Psychiatry is no exception. As we have demonstrated in several high profile studies, by conducting genome wide transcriptional profiling studies coupled with a systems biology analytic paradigm, is possible to identify not only genes, but gene pathways involved in the etiology of many common mental disorders. Furthermore, in collaboration with private companies, we are developing specific transcriptional approaches for use as diagnostic tools in the clinic.

Selected Publications

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Cutrona C, Abraham W, Russell D, Beach S, Gibbons F, Gerrard M, Monick M, Philibert R.  Financial strain, inflammatory factors, and haemoglobin A1c levels in African American women.  Br J Health Psychol.  2014 October 18. 

Philibert R, Penaluna B, White T, Shires S, Gunter T, Liesveld J, Erwin C, Hollenbeck N, Osborn T.  A pilot examination of the genome-wide DNA Methylation signatures of subjects entering and exiting short-term alcohol dependence treatment programs.  Epigenetics.  2014 August 11. 9(9):1212-9.

Sales J, Diclemente R, Brody G, Philibert R, Rose E.  Interaction Between 5-HTTLPR Polymorphism and Abuse History on Adolescent African-American Females' Condom Use Behavior Following Participation in an HIV Prevention Intervention.  Prev Sci.  2014. 15(3):257-67.

Brody G, Yu T, Chen Y, Kogan S, Evans G, Beach S, Windle M, Simons R, Gerrard M, Gibbons F, Philibert R.  Cumulative socioeconomic status risk, allostatic load, and adjustment: a prospective latent profile analysis with contextual and genetic protective factors.  Dev Psychol.  2013 May. 49(5):913-27.

Brody G, Yu T, Beach S, Kogan S, Windle M, Philibert R.  Harsh Parenting and Adolescent Health: A Longitudinal Analysis With Genetic Moderation.  Health Psychol.  2013 May. 33(5):401-9.

Brody G, Chen Y, Beach S, Kogan S, Yu T, Diclemente R, Wingood G, Windle M, Philibert R.  Differential Sensitivity to Prevention Programming: A Dopaminergic Polymorphism-Enhanced Prevention Effect on Protective Parenting and Adolescent Substance Use.  Health Psychology.  2013 February. 33(2):182-91.

Beach S, Brody G, Lei M, Gibbons F, Gerrard M, Simons R, Cutrona C, Philibert R.  Impact of child sex abuse on adult psychopathology: a genetically and epigenetically informed investigation.  Journal of Family Psychology .  2013 February. 27(1):3-11.

Brody G, Yu T, Chen Y, Kogan S, Evans G, Windle M, Gerrard M, Gibbons F, Simons R, Philibert R.  Supportive family environments, genes that confer sensitivity, and allostatic load among rural african american emerging adults: a prospective analysis.  J Fam Psychol.  2013 February. 27(1):22-9.

Gunter T, Chibnall J, Antoniak S, Philibert R, Black D.  Childhood trauma, traumatic brain injury, and mental health disorders associated with suicidal ideation and suicide-related behavior in a community corrections sample.  J Am Acad Psychiatry Law .  2013. 41(2):245-255.

Plume J, Beach S, Brody G, Philibert R.  A cross-platform genome-wide comparison of the relationship of promoter DNA methylation to gene expression.  Front Genet.  2012. 3:12.

Date Last Modified: 06/06/2016 - 13:17:48