Gary A. Heiman
Gary A. Heiman
Associate Professor
Life Sciences Bldg. Rutgers University 145 Bevier Road Piscataway, NJ, 08854


The focus of my research is at the intersection between genetics, psychiatry, and neurology. Many neurological disorders are highly comorbid with psychiatric disorders, but the cause of this comorbidity is unknown. Possible explanations include a reaction to having a chronic stigmatizing disorder (i.e., reactive effects), a common pathophysiological pathway, treatment effects (i.e., iatrogenic), and a shared etiology. Using genetic information, the goal of my research is to distinguish among these hypotheses and, in particular, to test the hypothesis that the comorbidity is due, in part, to a shared genetic susceptibility.

We are investigating genetics of Tourette’s Disorder (TD) and associated disorders. TD is a developmental neuropsychiatric syndrome characterized by persistent vocal and motor tics. Family, segregation and twin studies consistently indicate that genetic factors play a significant role in the etiology of TD. Although there have been some initial positive findings, identification of replicable susceptibility alleles has thus far remained elusive. In 2007, we established the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome Sharing Repository; a cell and DNA repository for Tourette Syndrome and associated disorders. In 2011, we received NIMH funding to establish the Tourette International Collaborative Genetics (TIC Genetics), the largest sharing cell and DNA repository for TD. It is located within the NIMH Center for Collaborative Genetic Research on Mental Disorders at Rutgers University. This is an international collaboration of clinicians, geneticists, and statisticians from the US, Europe, and South Korea. The goal of this repository is identify genetic factors that play a role in causing TD and associated disorders.

I am also investigating the genetic relationship between epilepsy and depression. Depression is the most common comorbid condition in epilepsy, affecting between 20-55% of patients with refractory epilepsy and 3-9% of patients with well-controlled seizures. The cause of this comorbidity is unknown. We are conducting a series of genetic epidemiologic studies to test the hypothesis that the comorbidity is due, in part, to a shared genetic susceptibility.

Depression is the most common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD). It often precede the onset of the motor symptoms and impact the quality of life of individuals with PD. In collaboration with the New York Beth Israel Medical Center and Columbia University Medical Center in NYC, we are investigating various clinical manifestations, including psychiatric symptoms, in a genetic form of PD.

Dr. Heiman is the Director of the Genetic Counseling Certificate Program (GCCP). The undergraduate GCCP program is intended for students interested in applying to graduate schools in Genetic Counseling. The goal of this program is to provide students with guidance and relevant experience that will help prepare students for graduate school applications. Specifically, the program provides students with an understanding of genetic counseling career, ensuring that students understand course prerequisites for various masters-level programs, and facilitating a short rotation with Genetic Counselor.

I serve on the leadership board of the newly accredited graduate program in genetic counseling at Rutgers University, The Genetic Counseling Master's Program (GCMP) and a fellow and an officer of the American Psychopathological Association



View Dr. Heiman's publications on NCBI

  • Willsey AJ, Fernandez TV, Dongmei Y, King RA, Dietrich A, Xing J, Sanders SJ, Mandell JD, Huang A, Richer P, Smith L, Dong S, Samocha EK, Tourette International Collaborative Genetics (TIC Genetics), Tourette Syndrome Association International Consortium for Genetics (TSAICG), Neale BM, Coppola G, Mathews CA, Tischfield JA, *Scharf JM, *State MW, and *Heiman GA. De novo coding mutations are strongly associated with Tourette Disorder. Neuron. 94:486–499, 2017. PMCID: PMC Journal - In Process.
  • Gordon D, Londono D, Patel P, Kim W, Finch SJ, and Heiman GA. An analytic solution to computation of power and sample size for genetic association studies under a pleiotropic mode of inheritance. Hum Hered 81:194–209, 2016. PMCID: PMC Journal - In Process.
  • Alexander J, Potamianou H, Xing J, Deng L, Karagiannidis I, Tsetsos F, Drineas P, Tarnok Z, Rizzo R, Wolanczyk T, Farkas L, Nagy P, Szymanska Y, Androutsos C, Tsironi V, Koumoula A, Barta C, TSGeneSEE, Sandor P, Barr CL, Tischfield JA, Paschou P, Heiman GA, and Georgitsi M. Targeted re-sequencing approach of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome candidate genes implicates rare potentially functional variants in Tourette Syndrome etiology. Front. Neurosci. 10:428, doi: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00428, 2016. PMCID: PMC5026935.
  • Abdulkadir M, Tischfield JA, King RA, Fernandez TV, Brown LW, Cheon K, Coffey BJ, de Bruijn SFTM, Elzerman L, Garcia-Delgar B, Gilbert DL, Grice DE, Hagstrøm J, Hedderly T, Heyman I, Hong H, Huyser C, Ibanez-Gomez L, Kim Y, Kim YS, Koh Y, Kook S, Kuperman S, Lamerz A, Leventhal B, Ludolph AG, Madruga-Garrido M, Maras A, Messchendorp MD, Mir P, Morer A, Münchau A, Murphy TL, Openneer TJC, Plessen KJ, Rath JJG, Roessner V, Schunke O, Shin E, Sival DA, Song D, Song J, Stolte A, Tübing J, van den Ban E, Visscher F, Wanderer S, Woods M, Zinner SH, State MW, Heiman GA, Hoekstra PJ, and Dietrich A. Pre- and perinatal complications in relation to Tourette syndrome and co-occurring obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research 82:126–135, 2016. PMCID: PMC5026935.
  • Choi H, Hayat MJ, Zhang R, Hirsch LJ, Bazil C, Mendiratta A, Kato K, Javed A, Legge AW, Buchsbaum R, Resor S, and Heiman GA. Drug resistant epilepsy in adults: outcome trajectories after failure of two medications. Epilepsia 57:1152–60, 2016. Public access policy: N/A.
  • Sun N, Tischfield JA, King RA, and Heiman GA. Functional evaluations of genes disrupted in patients with Tourette’s Disorder. Front. Psychiatry 7:11, doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00011, 2016. PMCID: PMC4746269.
  • Huertas-Fernández I, Gómez-Garre P, Madruga M, Bernal-Bernal I, Bonilla-Toribio M, Martín-Rodríguez JF, Cáceres-Redondo MT, Vargas-González L, Carrillo F, Pascual A, Tisch?eld JA, King RA, Heiman GA, and Mir P. GDNF gene is associated with Tourette syndrome in a family study. Mov Disord 30:1115–1120, 2015. PMCID: PMC5036394.
  • Dietrich A, Fernandez TV, King RA, State MW, Tischfield JA, Hoekstra PJ, Heiman GA; the TIC Genetics Collaborative Group. The Tourette International Collaborative Genetics (TIC Genetics) study, finding the genes causing Tourette syndrome: objectives and methods. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 24:141–151, 2015. PMCID: PMC4209328.
  • Paschou P, Fernandez T, Sharp F Heiman GA, and Hoekstra PJ. Genetic susceptibility and neurotransmitters in Tourette syndrome. Int Rev Neurobiol 112:155–77, 2013. PMCID: PMC4471172.
  • Moya PR, Wendland JR, Andrews AM, Rubenstein LM, Timpano KR, Heiman GA, Tischfield JA, King RA, Ramamoorthy S, McMahon FJ and Murphy DL. Common and rare gain-of-function alleles of the serotonin transporter gene, SLC6A4, associated with Tourette disorder. Mov Disord 28:1263–70, 2013. PMCID: PMC3766488.
  • Scharf JM, Yu D, Mathews CA, Neale BM, … Heiman GA, …Kurlan R, and Pauls DL. Genome-wide association study of Tourette syndrome. Mol Psychiatry 18:721–728, 2013. PMCID: PMC3605224.
  • Fernandez T, Sanders S, Yurkiewicz IR, Ercan-Sencicek AG, Kim YS, Fishman D, Raubeson M, Song Y, Yasuno K, Winson H, Bilguvar K, Glessner J, Chu SH, Leckman J, King RA, Gilbert D, Heiman GA, Tischfield JA, Hoekstra PJ, Devlin B, Hakonarson H, Mane SM, Günel M, and State MW. Rare copy number variants in Tourette syndrome disrupt genes in histaminergic pathways and overlap with autism. Biol Psychiatry 71:392–402, 2012. PMCID: PMC3282144.
  • Shanker VL, Groves, M, Heiman GA, Saunders-Pullman R, Ozelius, L, Palmese C, Raymond D, and Bressman SB. Mood and cognition in LRRK2 G2019S Parkinson’s disease. Mov Disord 26:1875–1880, 2011. PMCID: PMC3972755.
  • Heiman GA, Kamberakis K, Kalachikov S, Pedley TA, Hauser WA, and Ottman R. Current depression in LGI1 epilepsy mutation carriers. Epilepsia 51:1685–1690, 2010. PMCID: PMC2939248.
  • Ercan-Sencicek AG, Stillman AA, Ghosh A, Bilguvar K, O’Roak BJ, Mason CE, Abbott T, Gupta A, King RA, Pauls DL, Tischfield JA, Heiman GA, Singer HS, Gilbert DL, Hoekstra PJ, Loring E, Yasuno K, Fernandez T, Sanders S, Louvi A, Cho JH, Mane S, Colangelo CM, Biederer T,. Lifton RP, Gunel M and State MW. L-histidine decarboxylase and Tourette's syndrome. N Engl J Med 362:1901–8, 2010. PMCID: PMC2894694.
  • Heiman GA, King RA, and Tischfield JA. New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome sharing repository: methods and sample description. BMC Medical Genomics 1:58, 2008. URL:, PMCID: PMC2605751
  • Choi H, Heiman GA, Pandis D, Cantero J, Resor SR, Gilliam FG, and Hauser WA. Seizure remission and relapse in adults with intractable epilepsy: a cohort study. Epilepsia 49:1440–1445, 2008. PMCID: PMC3684178.
  • Heiman GA, Ogburn B, Gorroochurn P, Keyes K, and Hasin, DS. Evidence for a two-stage model of dependence using the NESARC and its implications for genetic association studies. Drug Alcohol Depend 92:258–266, 2008. PMCID: PMC2266584.
  • Heiman GA, Ottman R, Saunders-Pullman R, Ozelius LJ, Risch NJ, and Bressman SB. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not a manifestation of the DYT1 dystonia mutation. Am J Med Genet Part B (Neuropsychiatr Genet) 144B:361–364, 2007. PMCID: PMC3694482.

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Gary A. Heiman