Scharf Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital

Finding genetic and phenotypic
traits of Tourette Syndrome
and related disorders

About the lab

The Scharf lab investigates the genetic and neurobiological mechanisms of Tourette Syndrome (TS) and related developmental neuropsychiatric disorders that lie at the interface between traditional concepts of neurologic and psychiatric disease, including obsessive compulsive spectrum disorders (OCD/OCSD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We conduct genetic and clinical research to identify both genetic and non-genetic risk factors that contribute to the predisposition of TS, ADHD, and OCD in patients and families. By characterizing the underlying genetic architecture of these conditions, discovering individual susceptibility genes, and integrating genetic data with in-depth clinical and genomic biology information, we hope to identify novel targets for treatment, to understand the course of TS and related conditions at a patient-specific level, and to better predict treatment response.

Genetic research projects include comprehensive, large-scale, case-control and family-based analyses of common genetic variation (genome-wide association (GWAS)), rare copy number and other structural variants (CNV/SV), and whole exome/genome sequencing (WES/WGS) studies.

In parallel, we enroll new participants and conduct recontact studies of existing research subjects to identify clinical, genetic and non-genetic predictors of tics, co-occurring neuropsychiatric conditions, peak disease severity, causes/triggers of symptom flares, and tic persistence into adulthood. Our research begins and ends with patients, as all of our studies are grounded in the fundamental goal of improving the lives of children, adolescents and adults with TS and related conditions.