Christopher J. Stodgell, Ph.D.

Christopher J. Stodgell, Ph.D.

Contact Information

University of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 668
Rochester, NY 14642

Office: (585) 275-1902
Administrative: (585) 275-5734
Lab: (585) 273-2111
Fax: (585) 244-2209

Research Bio

The goal of my research is to understand the environmental and genetic etiologies of developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders. Through collaborations with other programs interested in the genetics of autism, we have studied how specific candidate genes are related to autism spectrum disorders. Recently, Dr. Loisa Bennetto, a developmental neuropsychologist here at the University of Rochester, and I were awarded a grant from NIH to study how familial and heritable chemosensory (taste & smell) traits are in families with autism. Problems around feeding behavior are of major concern to families who have children with autism, thus understanding the basic neurobiology chemosensory behavioral and how genetic factors affect these traits can be important for developing new therapies and behaivoral strategies to help treat those with autism.

Another area of autism research that I actively pursuing is investigating how early embryonic exposures known to cause autism affects developmental gene expression. To model these affects, we are using the potent neuroteratogen, valproic acid (Depakote). Valproic acid is used clinically for the treatment of seizures, mania associated with bipolar disorder, migraines, and cancer. In humans, in utero exposure is associated with an increased risk for autism. Early embryonic exposure in rats, results in similar behavioral profiles and neuroanatomical deficits seen in human cases of autism. Thus, this makes valproic acid a useful tool to study the gene-environment interaction which may be critical to causing some cases of autism. Within an hour after exposure, we can measure changes in embryonic gene expression. By determining these alterations, we will be better able to understand the molecular pathways that are altered in autism.

In another study of gene-environment interaction in autism, we are focusing on populations of cases of autism that have known environmental exposures. These include fetal exposures to valproic acid, and another drug linked to autism, misoprostol. By studying the sequences of candidate genes from cases that have known exposures and autism, to those who were exposed with the disorder, we hope to identify genetic features that may increase ones susceptibility to autism.

A third area of research is investigating the teratogenic impact of uncontrolled type-II diabetes. Using rats who have been specifically bred to develop type-II diabetes, or who are resistant to the disorder, we are interested in how embryonic gene expression is different between the embryos with neurotube defects and intra-uterine growth restriction and those who appear to be developing normally.

Finally, we are also investigating the gene-environment interactions that may have an etiology in vulvar vestibulitis, a women's health condition that results in severe chronic pain of the vulva. Estimated to affect 13-15% of women, there are strong indication that genetics plays an important role in the disorder, in that women with fair, light complexions have a greater risk of developing the disorder. We have been investigating the role of genes involved in skin pigmentation and inflammation to the disorders, and identified polymorphic variants which increases the risk of diagnosis.

Awards & Honors (National)

NIH Loan Repayment Program | National Institutes of Health 2003 - 2008
Wilson Publication Award for Outstanding Publication | Teratology Society 2001
Roland D. Ciaranello M.D. Award for Research in Basic Research | National Alliance for Autism Research 1999
James G. Wilson Award in Teratology for Outstanding Postdoctoral Research | Teratology Society 1998
National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders Young Investigator Award | NARSAD 1997

Recent Journal Articles

Showing the 5 most recent journal articles. 22 available »

2009 Apr
Foster DC, Kotok MB, Huang LS, Watts A, Oakes D, Howard FM, Stodgell CJ, Dworkin RH. "The tampon test for vulvodynia treatment outcomes research: reliability, construct validity, and responsiveness." Obstetrics and gynecology.. 2009 Apr; 113(4):825-32.
2008 Mar 5
Brune CW, Korvatska E, Allen-Brady K, Cook EH, Dawson G, Devlin B, Estes A, Hennelly M, Hyman SL, McMahon WM, Munson J, Rodier PM, Schellenberg GD, Stodgell CJ, Coon H. "Heterogeneous association between engrailed-2 and autism in the CPEA network." American journal of medical genetics. Part B, Neuropsychiatric genetics : the official publication of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics. 2008 Mar 5; 147B(2):187-93.
2007 Mar
, Szatmari P, Paterson AD, Zwaigenbaum L, Roberts W, Brian J, Liu XQ, Vincent JB, Skaug JL, Thompson AP, Senman L, Feuk L, Qian C, Bryson SE, Jones MB, Marshall CR, Scherer SW, Vieland VJ, Bartlett C, Mangin LV, Goedken R, Segre A, Pericak-Vance MA, Cuccaro ML, Gilbert JR, Wright HH, Abramson RK, Betancur C, Bourgeron T, Gillberg C, Leboyer M, Buxbaum JD, Davis KL, Hollander E, Silverman JM, Hallmayer J, Lotspeich L, Sutcliffe JS, Haines JL, Folstein SE, Piven J, Wassink TH, Sheffield V, Geschwind DH, Bucan M, Brown WT, Cantor RM, Constantino JN, Gilliam TC, Herbert M, Lajonchere C, Ledbetter DH, Lese-Martin C, Miller J, Nelson S, Samango-Sprouse CA, Spence S, State M, Tanzi RE, Coon H, Dawson G, Devlin B, Estes A, Flodman P, Klei L, McMahon WM, Minshew N, Munson J, Korvatska E, Rodier PM, Schellenberg GD, Smith M, Spence MA, Stodgell C, Tepper PG, Wijsman EM, Yu CE, Rogé B, Mantoulan C, Wittemeyer K, Poustka A, Felder B, Klauck SM, Schuster C, Poustka F, Bölte S, Feineis-Matthews S, Herbrecht E, Schmötzer G, Tsiantis J, Papanikolaou K, Maestrini E, Bacchelli E, Blasi F, Carone S, Toma C, Van Engeland H, de Jonge M, Kemner C, Koop F, Koop F, Langemeijer M, Langemeijer M, Hijmans C, Hijimans C, Staal WG, Baird G, Bolton PF, Rutter ML, Weisblatt E, Green J, Aldred C, Wilkinson JA, Pickles A, Le Couteur A, Berney T, McConachie H, Bailey AJ, Francis K, Honeyman G, Hutchinson A, Parr JR, Wallace S, Monaco AP, Barnby G, Kobayashi K, Lamb JA, Sousa I, Sykes N, Cook EH, Guter SJ, Leventhal BL, Salt J, Lord C, Corsello C, Hus V, Weeks DE, Volkmar F, Tauber M, Fombonne E, Shih A, Meyer KJ. "Mapping autism risk loci using genetic linkage and chromosomal rearrangements." Nature genetics.. 2007 Mar; 39(3):319-28. Epub 2007 Feb 18.
2006 Nov 1
Lainhart JE, Bigler ED, Bocian M, Coon H, Dinh E, Dawson G, Deutsch CK, Dunn M, Estes A, Tager-Flusberg H, Folstein S, Hepburn S, Hyman S, McMahon W, Minshew N, Munson J, Osann K, Ozonoff S, Rodier P, Rogers S, Sigman M, Spence MA, Stodgell CJ, Volkmar F. "Head circumference and height in autism: a study by the Collaborative Program of Excellence in Autism." American journal of medical genetics. Part A.. 2006 Nov 1; 140(21):2257-74.
2006 Nov
Schellenberg GD, Dawson G, Sung YJ, Estes A, Munson J, Rosenthal E, Rothstein J, Flodman P, Smith M, Coon H, Leong L, Yu CE, Stodgell C, Rodier PM, Spence MA, Minshew N, McMahon WM, Wijsman EM. "Evidence for multiple loci from a genome scan of autism kindreds." Molecular psychiatry. 2006 Nov; 11(11):1049-60, 979. Epub 2006 Aug 01.

Current Appointments

Research Associate Professor - Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (SMD) - Primary


PhD | Pharmacology | University of Kansas1996
MS | Pharmacology | University of Kansas1995
BA | Arts & Sciences | University of Kansas1989

Post-Doctoral Training & Residency

NIEHS Postdoctoral Trainee Department of Environmental Medicine University of Rochester School of Medicine 1997