Lisa Stubbs, PhD

Senior Investigator and Interim Chief Scientific Officer

Lab Focus

Gene regulatory networks

Genetics of brain development

Genetics of behavior


The Stubbs Lab studies the genetics of brain development, and how differences in brain development translate into individual behaviors and susceptibility/resilience to disease. This lab focuses on genes encoding regulatory factors—transcription factors and key signaling molecules—that sit atop gene networks that are activated with precise timing and sequence to build and maintain a fully functioning brain. 

Because these higher-level regulatory factors control cascades of downstream genes, mutations and variants in these factors can have dramatic effects on brain structure and function, with critical impact on emotional, social, and intellectual capabilities. These variants contribute significantly to the diversity of healthy individuals, but also can define frank susceptibilities to disease.  

The Stubbs Lab is focused on identifying critical genetic factors and their interacting partners, with a special focus brain on late gestation and postnatal development when brain regions that determine intellectual capabilities, social interaction, and emotions begin to mature. This team is focused on understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms of gene regulation and regulatory factor interactions, using mouse genetics together with brain pathology and genomics tools to investigate these processes within specific populations of brain cells as they differentiate and function over the lifespan.

Our lab’s strength is our ability to pull genetics, genomics, molecular biology, behavioral studies and developmental pathology together to investigate the genetics of brain development and behavior, focusing on how our uniquely structured brains determine resilience or susceptibility to disease. Our goal is to uncover novel molecular and cellular mechanisms through which genetics is translated into a unique spectrum of behaviors, the first steps toward understanding and treating complex neurological disorders and disease.”

Lisa Stubbs, PhD

Senior Investigator and Interim Chief Scientific Officer

Lab Members

Xue Geng, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Amber LeBlanc

Research Technician

Eugene Lin, PhD

Staff Scientist

Alyssa Noren

Research Assistant

Jaai Pandit

Senior Research Technician

Kian Patton

Research Technician

Christopher Seward, PhD

Staff Scientist


Lisa Stubbs, PhD

Lisa Stubbs, PhD, is a Senior Investigator and Interim Chief Scientific Officer at PNRI, leading her lab’s research on comparative genomics, the role of gene-regulatory mechanisms in neurological development and disease, and mouse models for human developmental disorders. She earned her PhD in Biology with a focus in molecular genetics from the University of California, San Diego, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the California Institute of Technology and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. Among her prestigious appointments, she spent eight years as the Director of the Genome Biology Division, Biosciences Directorate, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Currently, Dr. Stubbs is an Associate Editor of the scientific journal, PLoS Genetics, in addition to being an affiliate member of the Gene Networks in Neural and Developmental Plasticity Theme, at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois, and a Graduate Faculty member in the same institution’s department of Cell and Developmental Biology. Since 2021, Dr. Stubbs has co-led the Decoding Stress Study at PNRI, along with David Galas, PhD, to investigate how genetic factors influence the development of or resistance to stress-related illnesses.

Research Projects


Mechanism of AUTS2-linked neurodevelopmental disorders

It is becoming increasingly clear that neurodevelopmental disorders with distinct clinical presentations nonetheless share common genetic mechanisms, and an increasing number of genes are now linked to multiple forms of neurological disease.


Tcf7l2 at the nexus of social stress, metabolic disorders and neuropsychiatric disease

TCF7L2, encoding a transcription factor of the LEF/TCF family that actuates the canonical WNT signaling pathway, is best known for its extraordinarily high levels of association with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and related metabolic disorders in the human population.


Decoding Stress

Previous studies on TCF7L2 have led to the Stubbs Lab’s interest in researching genetic factors that coordinate the brain’s response to stress. The hypothesis being that genetics may provide key links to health disorders associated with threat, deep uncertainty, or deprivation, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Lisa Stubbs, PhD
Awards & Honors

1988 – 1990

Visiting Fellowship

Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, UK

1995 – 1997


U.S. Dept. of Energy Human Genome Program Coordinating Committee

1999 – 2006


U.S. Department of Energy. Biology and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC)

1999 – 2003


National Institutes of Health Human Genome Study Section

2013 – 2014

Chair, grant review panel for NHGRI RFA, “Undiagnosed Diseases Gene Function”


NIH Director’s committee for final review of Young Innovator Awards

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

2008 – 2011

Chair, Seminar Committee

Dept. of Cell and Developmental Biology (CDB)

2012 – 2020


CDB Graduate education and Fellowship committee

2012 2016


CDB Ph.D. Preliminary Exam committee

2014 – 2014


LAS Committee for 5-year review of Head of Animal Biology

2018 – 2019


MCB faculty recruitment committee, Brain Plasticity Search