Carl Ernst, PhD

Carl Ernst

Canada Research Chair in Psychiatric Genetics
Researcher, Douglas Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University


Expertise: molecular biology, neurobiology, suicide


Carl Ernst, PhD, was a fellow at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital in the Center for Human Genetic Research, where he studied stem cells and genetics. In September 2011, he joined the McGill Group for Suicide Studies at the Douglas Institute.

The goal of his work is to study human behaviour and mood by identifying genes that may be involved in mental disorders. For this work, he produces cellular models based on the functions of specific genes, then screens at-risk populations for genetic mutations, deriving stem cells from their tissue. He then assesses functions in neurons derived from these subjects’ stem cells.

The way he assesses mutated genes includes both molecular and morphological techniques. Molecular techniques encompass alterations in biochemical processes and gene expression patterns, while morphological techniques refer to cell structure analyses and cell connectivity assays.

Lab Members:
Ernst lab 2017

On the picture, left to right: Huashan Peng, Hanrong Wu, Scott Bell, Jessie Poquerusse, Nuwan Hettige, Carl Ernst, Malvin Jefri, JF Theroux (Missing: Karla Manzano Vargas, Heika Silveira, Pen Hu, Ying Zhang)

  • Scott Bell (PhD student)
  • Malvin Jefri (PhD student)
  • Karla Manzano Vargas (MSc student)
  • Nuwan Hettige (PhD student)
  • Huashan Peng, MD (Research associate – Stem cells/Gene editing)
  • Jessie Poquerusse, BSc (MSc – Neuroscience)
  • Heika Silveira, PhD (Research associate – Electrophysiology/Stem cells)
  • Jean-François Theroux, MSc (Research associate – Bioinformatics)
  • Hanrong Wu, MSc (Research associate – Stem cells/gene editing)
  • Ying Zhang, MD (Research associate – Stem Cells)

Visiting scholar:

  • Pen Hu, MD (Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery,The second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China )


  • Liam Crapper (PhD student)
  • Ilaria Kolobova (MSc student)
  • Zahia Aouabed, MSc (Research associate – Bioinformatics – now in Turecki lab)
  • Gilles Maussion (Post-doctoral fellow)
  • Betty Chen (Post-doctoral fellow)
  • Carolina Gigek (Post-doctoral fellow)
  • Vanessa Ota (Visiting graduate student)
  • Alpha Diallo, PhD (Research associate)
  • Raphaël Poujol, MSc (Research associate)
  • Cristina Vasuta, PhD (Research associate)


Douglas Hospital Research Centre profile: Carl Ernst
Recent publications: Pubmed
Go to the Psychiatric Genetics Lab website