Title and Department
Associate Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine, Division of Genetic Medicine
Associate Professor, Biomedical Informatics
Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Professional bio

Douglas Ruderfer, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Biomedical Informatics and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

Formally trained in computer science and genetics, he received his BS in computer engineering and an MS in computer science from The Johns Hopkins University and his PhD in human genetics from Cardiff University. After graduating from Hopkins, Dr. Ruderfer pursued his interests in applying computational approaches to biological problems at Princeton University. There, he leveraged model organisms to advance understanding of population and evolutionary genetics. Seeking to work directly on human disease, he started working on the genetics of psychiatric disease while in Boston at the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital and then in New York City at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. 

In 2016, Dr. Ruderfer was recruited to Vanderbilt to expand his efforts on the genetics of behavioral health by incorporating clinical data from electronic health records (EHR). His research revolves around developing and applying analytical approaches to understanding the genetic etiology and improving the phenotypic characterization of psychiatric disorders and behavioral health traits. This work has included substantial contributions to the understanding of the genetic architecture of several disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

More recent work has leveraged clinical data to better quantify behavioral health traits for improved power of genetic studies in traits such as suicide attempt and treatment resistant depression. Ultimately, his work aims to bridge clinical information and genetic variation into better functional and clinical understanding to ultimately improve outcomes for patients. This work is highlighted by his efforts to identify patients most likely to benefit from genetic testing using routinely collected EHR data which was selected as one of 10 key advances in applying genomic information to clinical care in 2021. 

Dr. Ruderfer is a member of the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute and the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, an associate member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and a member of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics. In 2018, he received a Vanderbilt University Medical Center Biomedical Science Impact Award and was recognized for one of the top 10 leading research achievements among those funded by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. He is also a 2021 Vanderbilt University Chancellor Faculty Fellow.