Sarah Hartz, M.D., Ph.D.

I am a physician scientist funded by a training grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to combine my background in statistics and genetics with my psychiatric training to better understand the genetics of substance dependence. I completed my psychiatric residency in 2009, and a fellowship in psychiatric genetics in 2012. I continue to see patients with severe mental illness. I have served on the Washington University Institutional Review Board (IRB) since 2011. I am currently the secretary for the Academic Women’s Network.

Phone: 314-362-5052


My specific research areas include:
  1. Genetics of comorbidity between substance use disorders and other severe mental illness.
  2. Return of genetic results to research participants, and
  3. Application of quantitative methodologies to addiction genetics
Recent findings:

Smokers participating in a genetic study of nicotine dependence received individual genetic risk results for five diseases, including lung cancer. They reported that they appreciated receiving the results and found them worthwhile. Receiving disease-related genetic results was not associated with increased symptoms of depression or anxiety, but was associated with increased attempts to quit smoking.

Hartz, S. M., Olfson, E., Culverhouse, R., Cavazos-Rehg, P., Chen, L. S., DuBois, J., . . . Bierut, L. J. (2015). Return of individual genetic results in a high-risk sample: enthusiasm and positive behavioral change. Genet Med, 17(5), 374-379. doi: 10.1038/gim.2014.110. PMID: 25166427


Our active projects include:

Genetics of the comorbidity between substance use disorders and other severe mental illnesses
Individuals with alcohol use disorder or nicotine dependence are much more likely to have mental illness than the general population. However, no study has evaluated whether there are shared genetic factors between substance use disorders and severe mental illness. In this study, we address this scientific gap by using existing data to evaluate whether schizophrenia shares genetic factors with alcohol use disorder or nicotine dependence. This study will lead to improved understanding of the genetic factors that may lead to the co-occurrence of schizophrenia with alcohol use disorder or nicotine dependence.


K08 DA032680
Novel Use of GWAS for Improved Understanding of Nicotine Dependence
My Role: Principal Investigator