Rochester, Minnesota




As a statistical geneticist, Brandon J. Coombes, Ph.D., focuses his studies on polygenic risk scores, gene-environment interactions and electronic health record (EHR) research. Dr. Coombes is a collaborative scientist studying the genetics of complex diseases, particularly in psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder, opioid use disorder, alcohol use disorder, depression and anxiety.

Focus areas

  • Bipolar disorder. Dr. Coombes provides statistical genetics and biostatistics support for Mayo Clinic's Bipolar Disorder Biobank led by Joanna M. Biernacka, Ph.D., and Mark A. Frye, M.D.

    This research contributes to analyses in the largest genetic study of bipolar disorder conducted by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium as well as the largest pharmacogenomic study of bipolar disorder conducted by the Consortium on Lithium Genetics and the Mood-Stabilizer Genomics Consortium.

  • Opioid use disorder. Dr. Coombes is a co-principal investigator with Tyler S. Oesterle, M.D., M.P.H., in forming Mayo Clinic's opioid and multiple addictions biobank. This biobank provides a rich resource for research in addiction and understanding biological and environmental factors that contribute to opioid use disorder and polysubstance use.
  • EHRs. With the ability to link biobanks to EHRs, Dr. Coombes is conducting psychiatric genetics research using diagnosis codes, prescriptions and clinical notes from EHRs. This research allows Dr. Coombes to perform large-scale genetic analyses of psychiatric disorders and disorder subtypes identified from EHRs as well as analyses of treatment outcomes. He investigates the clinical utility of polygenic risk scores and develops methodologies to better predict diagnoses from EHRs.
  • Polygenic risk scores and statistical genetics methods development. Dr. Coombes focuses on the development of novel statistical methods for the analysis of genetic and EHR data. His methods currently focus on improving genetic predictions using polygenic risk scores and their application to diverse populations. He develops methods for gene-environment interaction and risk predictions using EHR data.

Significance to patient care

By furthering understanding of the biological etiology of psychiatric illness, Dr. Coombes improves the diagnosis, prevention and development of novel therapies for psychiatric problems. Testing for genetic risk of traits is now offered directly to consumers. It is critical to consider how to best bring these risk estimates into the clinic. This allows personalized medicine and precision psychiatry and ensures they are applied equitably.


Administrative Appointment

  1. Associate Consultant I-Research, Division of Computational Biology, Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Academic Rank

  1. Assistant Professor of Biostatistics


  1. Ph.D. - Biostatistics University of Minnesota
  2. BS - Mathematics Abilene Christian University

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