Imperial College London

Dr. Anna C. Need

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Brain Sciences

Honorary Lecturer



+44 (0)20 3313 8436a.need Website




7N2aCommonwealth BuildingHammersmith Campus





I am a lecturer in the Centre for Psychiatry, within the Division of Brain Sciences. I work on the genetics of mental illness and cognition. My primary research goal is to identify genetic variants that have very strong highly penetrant effects on psychiatric and cognitive phenotypes. To this end, I am leading projects to identify and sequence families with extreme neurocognitive or psychiatric phenotypes, such as childhood-onset psychosis, very precocious cognitive development and severe personality disorders. Identifying such variants will help to elucidate the molecular processes underlying healthy neural processes and neurocognitive and mental disorders, and may eventually lead to the development of improved treatments.

My work also explores the potential of next generation genetic diagnosis within child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). I am investigating how frequently children with mental illness have a simple, identifiable genetic cause. This will help us to determine whether, when and why we should we be referring children with mental illness for genetics services.

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Liverpool, graduating in July 2000 with a first class degree in genetics. My doctoral research was carried out at University College London (UCL) with Professor Peter Giese (, investigating the genetics of learning and memory in mice. After being awarded my PhD in 2004, I completed five years of postdoctoral training, first at UCL, then at the Centre for Human Genome Variation at Duke University.

In July 2009 I became Assistant Professor in Medicine at Duke University. Whilst I was at Duke, I built and analyzed two genetic cohorts. The first was designed to investigate the genetics of learning and memory in humans and is now part of the Cognitive Genomics Consortium (COGENT). The second was a cohort of schizophrenia patients and their family members. This work enabled us to publish one of the first genome wide association studies (GWAS) of schizophrenia, and to use exome and genome sequencing to rule out a role for moderate-frequency, highly penetrant sequence variants in schizophrenia. We also published the first investigation of the effectiveness of exome sequencing in a heterogeneous clinical genetics setting, showing it to be a highly effective method for genetic diagnosis in cases that have eluded traditional approaches. This work set the scene for much larger projects such as Deciphering Developmental Disorders (DDD) and the 100,000 genomes project.

I returned to the UK to take up a position as Lecturer of Neurogenetics at Imperial in May 2013. As well as my research, I am active in teaching. I co-lead the mental health module of the Neurosciences and Mental Health BSc course and co-lead the Genomics of Common and Rare Disease module for the MSc in Genomic Medicine. I also regularly supervise undergraduate and graduate student research projects. As a member of the Development and Opportunities committee for the Department of Medicine, I work as part of the Athena SWAN self-assessment group to try to ensure equality in research and career progression at Imperial.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Need AC, Shashi V, Schoch K, et al., 2016, The importance of dynamic reanalysis In diagnostic whole exome sequencing, Journal of Medical Genetics, Vol:54, ISSN:1468-6244, Pages:155-156

Need AC, Goldstein DB, 2016, Neuropsychiatric Genomics in Precision Medicine: Diagnostics, Gene discovery, and Translation, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, ISSN:1958-5969

Shashi V, Xie P, Schoch K, et al., 2015, The RBMX gene as a candidate for the Shashi X-linked intellectual disability syndrome, Clinical Genetics, Vol:88, ISSN:0009-9163, Pages:386-390

Zhu X, Petrovski S, Xie P, et al., 2015, Whole-exome sequencing in undiagnosed genetic diseases: interpreting 119 trios, Genetics in Medicine, Vol:17, ISSN:1530-0366, Pages:774-781

Need AC, Goldstein DB, 2014, Schizophrenia Genetics Comes of Age, Neuron, Vol:83, ISSN:0896-6273, Pages:760-763

Nutt DJ, Need AC, 2014, Where now for schizophrenia research?, European Neuropsychopharmacology, Vol:24, ISSN:0924-977X, Pages:1181-1187

Zhu X, Need AC, Petrovski S, et al., 2014, One gene, many neuropsychiatric disorders: lessons from Mendelian diseases, Nature Neuroscience, Vol:17, ISSN:1097-6256, Pages:773-781

Tiwari AK, Need AC, Lohoff FW, et al., 2014, Exome sequence analysis of Finnish patients with clozapine-induced agranulocytosis, Molecular Psychiatry, Vol:19, ISSN:1359-4184, Pages:403-405

Shashi V, McConkie-Rosell A, Rosell B, et al., 2014, The utility of the traditional medical genetics diagnostic evaluation in the context of next-generation sequencing for undiagnosed genetic disorders., Genet Med, Vol:16, Pages:176-182

Zhu M, Need AC, Han Y, et al., 2012, Using ERDS to Infer Copy-Number Variants in High-Coverage Genomes, American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol:91, ISSN:0002-9297, Pages:408-421

Need AC, McEvoy JP, Gennarelli M, et al., 2012, Exome Sequencing Followed by Large-Scale Genotyping Suggests a Limited Role for Moderately Rare Risk Factors of Strong Effect in Schizophrenia, American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol:91, ISSN:0002-9297, Pages:303-312

Need AC, Shashi V, Hitomi Y, et al., 2012, Clinical application of exome sequencing in undiagnosed genetic conditions, Journal of Medical Genetics, Vol:49, ISSN:1468-6244, Pages:353-361

Need AC, Goldstein DB, 2010, Whole genome association studies in complex diseases: where do we stand?, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, Vol:12, ISSN:1958-5969, Pages:37-46

Need AC, Attix DK, McEvoy JM, et al., 2009, A genome-wide study of common SNPs and CNVs in cognitive performance in the CANTAB, Human Molecular Genetics, Vol:18, ISSN:0964-6906, Pages:4650-4661

Need AC, Goldstein DB, 2009, Next generation disparities in human genomics: concerns and remedies, Trends in Genetics, Vol:25, ISSN:0168-9525, Pages:489-494

Need AC, Keefe RSE, Ge D, et al., 2009, Pharmacogenetics of antipsychotic response in the CATIE trial: a candidate gene analysis, European Journal of Human Genetics, Vol:17, ISSN:1018-4813, Pages:946-957

Need AC, Ge D, Weale ME, et al., 2009, A Genome-Wide Investigation of SNPs and CNVs in Schizophrenia, Plos Genetics, Vol:5, ISSN:1553-7404

Need AC, Kasperaviciute D, Cirulli ET, et al., 2009, A genome-wide genetic signature of Jewish ancestry perfectly separates individuals with and without full Jewish ancestry in a large random sample of European Americans, Genome Biology, Vol:10, ISSN:1474-760X

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