Stephanie Francoise Claire Le Hellard's picture

Stephanie Francoise Claire Le Hellard

Professor, Human Genetics
  • E-mailStephanie.LeHellard@uib.no
  • Phone+47 900 58 089
  • Visitor Address
    Labbygget, 5th floor
  • Postal Address
    Postboks 7804
    5020 Bergen

The aim of my research group is to identify how different layers of genetics, epigenetics and gene expression can be involved together in the development of mental disorders, their outcome and how they are modulated by the environment.

I am a core researcher at the NORMENT, a Norwegian Centre of Excellence for Research on Mental Health. The NORMENT is described here: http://www.med.uio.no/norment/english/ In Bergen I am situated at the Dr Martens group for research on biological psychiatry, our research activity is described here: http://www.uib.no/en/rg/geneticsgroup/106397/martens-group#at-a-glance

Description of our group in the NORMENT centre:

Epigenetics of Mental Disorders

About the group

The group consists of people with background in genetics, statistics, medicine and informatics who together bring their complementary expertise to try understand the interaction between genetic and environmental risk in mental disorders. We work in close collaboration with clinicians.

We use datasets generated in house or publicly available that combine genetic, epigenetic and gene expression datasets for mental disorders (mostly schizophrenia and bipolar disorders) that are in addition well annotated for environmental factors.


Together with the members of my group we are focusing our research on the Epigenetics of Mental Disorders and their treatment (incl. treatment response).

Most of mental disorders are multifactorial in nature, which means that several genetic risk factors combined with environmental risk factors increase the risk to develop a disorder.

Epigenetic modifications, are changes added to the DNA (without changing the DNA sequence) that can regulate the expression of genes, for example the addition of methylation groups on the DNA (aka DNA methylation). Some of these modifications can be dependent of the genetic background, on the biological development (age or sex) or influenced by the environment (e.g. risk factors or treatment). We are especially interested in DNA methylation differences between patients with mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD... and controls.  DNA methylation differences are also observed under exposure to some environmental factors such as smoking, stress, cannabis use, etc... There are also some studies that have reported how treatment with either antidepressant or with cognitive therapy can be associated with differences in DNA methylation.

Thus the aim of our research is to identify epigenetic factors associated with the different aspects of psychiatric disorders: the risk to develop such disorders and how to treat them. 

Specifically our projects are aimed at: 

  • Investigating epigenetic modifications in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders.
  • Molecular mechanisms of exposure to several environmental risk in patients with psychosis (cannabis, trauma, asphyxia, ...).
  • Identification of regions of differential methylation across psychiatric disorders and through the life span.
  • DNA methylation changes associated with treatment and treatment response in OCD, psychosis and depression.


The group currently consist of 1 senior researcher, 2 postdocs, 3 PhD students, 1 forskerlinje student, 1 bio-engineer and myself.

I teach Genetics and Evolution to medical students in their 3rd semester, at the Faculty of Medicine, UiB.

I teach a MSc course in Human Genetics (HUMGEN301) at the Faculty of Medicine, UiB. https://www.uib.no/en/course/HUMGEN301

I also participate in the IGSIN course for PhD students, UiB, and the Master course in Genetics of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oslo.


Academic article
  • Show author(s) (2024). Divergent epigenetic responses to perinatal asphyxia in severe mental disorders. Translational Psychiatry. 12 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Neurobiological mechanisms of ECT and TMS treatment in depression: study protocol of a multimodal magnetic resonance investigation. BMC Psychiatry.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Differences in white blood cell proportions between schizophrenia cases and controls are influenced by medication and variations in time of day. Translational Psychiatry.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Changes in mental health symptoms from April (COVID-19 outbreak) to December 2020 in Norway: A two-wave study. Cogent Psychology. 1-12.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Beyond the Global Brain Differences: Intraindividual Variability Differences in 1q21.1 Distal and 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 Deletion Carriers. Biological Psychiatry. 147-160.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Personality traits and hardiness as risk- and protective factors for mental distress during the COVID-19 pandemic: a Norwegian two-wave study. BMC Psychiatry. 1-10.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Genetic variants associated with longitudinal changes in brain structure across the lifespan. Nature Neuroscience. 421-432.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Changes in contamination-related obsessions and compulsions during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Norwegian longitudinal study. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. 1-10.
  • Show author(s) (2022). An epigenetic association analysis of childhood trauma in psychosis reveals possible overlap with methylation changes associated with PTSD. Translational Psychiatry.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Mental health symptoms during the first months of the COVID-19 outbreak in Norway: A cross-sectional survey study. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 1-8.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Identifying nootropic drug targets via large-scale cognitive GWAS and transcriptomics. Neuropsychopharmacology. 1788-1801.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Identification of pleiotropy at the gene level between psychiatric disorders and related traits. Translational Psychiatry. 8 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Cohort Profile: COVIDMENT: COVID-19 cohorts on mental health across six nations. International Journal of Epidemiology. 1-15.
  • Show author(s) (2021). 1q21.1 distal copy number variants are associated with cerebral and cognitive alterations in humans. Translational Psychiatry. 16 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2020). The genetic architecture of the human cerebral cortex. Science.
  • Show author(s) (2020). The genetic architecture of human brainstem structures and their involvement in common brain disorders. Nature Communications. 14 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Shared genetic risk between eating disorder‐ and substance‐use‐related phenotypes: Evidence from genome‐wide association studies. Addiction Biology. 21 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Genetic identification of cell types underlying brain complex traits yields insights into the etiology of Parkinson’s disease. Nature Genetics. 482-493.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Genetic control of variability in subcortical and intracranial volumes. Molecular Psychiatry. 1-8.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Cannabis Use Is Associated With Increased Levels of Soluble gp130 in Schizophrenia but Not in Bipolar Disorder. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 1-10.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Pleiotropic meta-analysis of cognition, education, and schizophrenia differentiates roles of early neurodevelopmental and adult synaptic pathways. American Journal of Human Genetics. 334-350.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Genomic Relationships, Novel Loci, and Pleiotropic Mechanisms across Eight Psychiatric Disorders. Cell. 1469-1482.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Genome-wide association study identifies eight risk loci and implicates metabo-psychiatric origins for anorexia nervosa. Nature Genetics. 1207-1214.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Genetic architecture of subcortical brain structures in 38,851 individuals. Nature Genetics. 1624-1636.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Common brain disorders are associated with heritable patterns of apparent aging of the brain. Nature Neuroscience. 1617-1623.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Association of copy number variation of the 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 region with cortical and subcortical morphology and cognition. JAMA psychiatry. 11 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Williams Syndrome neuroanatomical score associates with GTF2IRD1 in large-scale magnetic resonance imaging cohorts: A proof of concept for multivariate endophenotypes. Translational Psychiatry. 1-8.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Study of 300,486 individuals identifies 148 independent genetic loci influencing general cognitive function. Nature Communications. 1-16.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Recently evolved human-specific methylated regions are enriched in schizophrenia signals. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 1-11.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Meta-analysis of Alzheimer’s disease on 9,751 samples from Norway and IGAP study identifies four risk loci. Scientific Reports. 8 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Genome-wide association meta-analysis in 269,867 individuals identifies new genetic and functional links to intelligence. Nature Genetics. 912-919.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Genetic variation in 117 myelination-related genes in schizophrenia: Replication of association to lipid biosynthesis genes. Scientific Reports. 1-8.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Genetic and transcriptional analysis of inflammatory bowel disease-associated pathways in patients with GUCY2C-linked familial diarrhea. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 1264-1273.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Elevated expression of a minor isoform of ANK3 is a risk factor for bipolar disorder. Translational Psychiatry. 1-10.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Brain scans from 21,297 individuals reveal the genetic architecture of hippocampal subfield volumes. Molecular Psychiatry. 1-13.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Analysis of differentially methylated regions in great apes and extinct hominids provides support for the evolutionary hypothesis of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research. 8 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2017). Sequencing and de novo assembly of 150 genomes from Denmark as a population reference. Nature. 87-91.
  • Show author(s) (2017). Psychotic patients who used cannabis frequently before illness onset have higher genetic predisposition to schizophrenia than those who did not. Psychological Medicine. 43-49.
  • Show author(s) (2017). Novel genetic loci associated with hippocampal volume. Nature Communications. 1-12.
  • Show author(s) (2017). Large-scale cognitive GWAS meta-analysis reveals tissue-specific neural expression and potential nootropic drug targets. Cell reports. 2597-2613.
  • Show author(s) (2017). Identification of gene loci that overlap between schizophrenia and educational attainment. Schizophrenia Bulletin. 654-664.
  • Show author(s) (2017). GWAS meta-analysis reveals novel loci and genetic correlates for general cognitive function: a report form the COGENT consortium. Molecular Psychiatry. 336-345.
  • Show author(s) (2017). Assembly and analysis of 100 full MHC haplotypes from the Danish population. Genome Research. 1597-1607.
  • Show author(s) (2017). Analysis of the joint effect of SNPs to identify independent loci and allelic heterogeneity in schizophrenia GWAS data. Translational Psychiatry.
  • Show author(s) (2017). A genome-wide association study of anorexia nervosa suggests a risk locus implicated in dysregulated leptin signaling. Scientific Reports. 1-9.
  • Show author(s) (2017). A genetic association study of CSMD1 and CSMD2 with cognitive function. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 209-216.
  • Show author(s) (2016). Novel genetic loci underlying human intracranial volume identified through genome-wide association. Nature Neuroscience. 1569-1582.
  • Show author(s) (2016). Nationwide genomic study in Denmark reveals remarkable population homogeneity. Genetics. 711-722.
  • Show author(s) (2016). Genome-wide autozygosity is associated with lower general cognitive ability. Molecular Psychiatry. 837-843.
  • Show author(s) (2016). Genetics of structural connectivity and information processing in the brain. Brain Structure and Function. 4643-4661.
  • Show author(s) (2016). Genetic evidence for a role of the SREBP transcription system and lipid biosynthesis in schizophrenia and antipsychotic treatment. European Neuropsychopharmacology. 589-598.
  • Show author(s) (2016). Conservation of Distinct Genetically-Mediated Human Cortical Pattern. PLoS Genetics. 18 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2016). Circadian clock gene variants and insomnia, sleepiness, and shift work disorder. Sleep and Biological Rhythms. 55-62.
  • Show author(s) (2015). Large-scale genomics unveil polygenic architecture of human cortical surface area. Nature Communications.
  • Show author(s) (2015). Independent evidence for an association between general cognitive ability and a genetic locus for educational attainment. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics. 363-373.
  • Show author(s) (2015). Genetic contributions to variation in general cognitive function: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in the CHARGE consortium (N=53 949). Molecular Psychiatry. 183-192.
  • Show author(s) (2015). Genetic basis of a cognitive complexity metric. PLOS ONE.
  • Show author(s) (2015). Common variants in the ARC gene are not associated with cognitive abilities. Brain and Behavior. 8 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2015). Common genetic variants influence human subcortical brain structures. Nature. 224-229.
  • Show author(s) (2014). The ENIGMA Consortium: Large-scale collaborative analyses of neuroimaging and genetic data. Brain Imaging and Behavior. 153-182.
  • Show author(s) (2014). Molecular genetic evidence for overlap between general cognitive ability and risk for schizophrenia: A report from the Cognitive Genomics consorTium (COGENT). Molecular Psychiatry. 168-174.
  • Show author(s) (2014). Lack of association of the rs1344706 ZNF804A variant with cognitive functions and DTI indices of white matter microstructure in two independent healthy populations. Psychiatry Research : Neuroimaging. 60-66.
  • Show author(s) (2014). Human cognitive ability is influenced by genetic variation in components of postsynaptic signalling complexes assembled by NMDA receptors and MAGUK proteins. Translational Psychiatry.
  • Show author(s) (2014). Genetic architecture of cognitive traits. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. 255-262.
  • Show author(s) (2014). GWAS-based pathway analysis differentiates between fluid and crystallized intelligence. Genes, Brain and Behavior.
  • Show author(s) (2014). A possible genetic association with chronic fatigue in primary Sjögren’s syndrome: a candidate gene study. Rheumatology International. 191-197.
  • Show author(s) (2014). A genome-wide association study of anorexia nervosa. Molecular Psychiatry. 1085-1094.
  • Show author(s) (2013). No association of primary Sjögren's syndrome with Fcγ receptor gene variants. Genes and Immunity. 234-237.
  • Show author(s) (2013). A genetic deconstruction of neurocognitive traits in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. PLOS ONE. 9 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Linkage-disequilibrium-based binning affects the interpretation of GWASs. American Journal of Human Genetics. 727-733.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Imaging and cognitive genetics: the Norwegian Cognitive NeuroGenetics Sample. Twin Research and Human Genetics. 442-452.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Identification of common variants associated with human hippocampal and intracranial volumes. Nature Genetics. 552-561.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Gene-based analysis of regionally enriched cortical genes in GWAS data sets of cognitive traits and psychiatric disorders. PLOS ONE. 14 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2012). DCLK1 variants are associated across schizophrenia and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. PLOS ONE. 12 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Association between genetic variants in the tumour necrosis factor/lymphotoxin alpha/lymphotoxin beta locus and primary Sjogren's syndrome in Scandinavian samples. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 981-988.
  • Show author(s) (2011). The Complement Control-Related Genes CSMD1 and CSMD2 Associate to Schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry. 35-42.
  • Show author(s) (2011). Potential association of muscarinic receptor 3 gene variants with primary Sjögren's syndrome. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 1327-1329.
  • Show author(s) (2011). Lipogenic effects of psychotropic drugs: focus on the SREBP system. Frontiers in Bioscience. 49-60.
  • Show author(s) (2011). Genome-wide association studies establish that human intelligence is highly heritable and polygenic. Molecular Psychiatry. 996-1005.
  • Show author(s) (2011). Association study of energy homeostasis genes and antipsychotic-induced weight gain in patients with schizophrenia. Pharmacopsychiatry. 15-20.
  • Show author(s) (2010). Polymorphisms in SREBF1 and SREBF2, two antipsychotic-activated transcription factors controlling cellular lipogenesis, are associated with schizophrenia in German and Scandinavian samples. Molecular Psychiatry. 463-472.
  • Show author(s) (2009). Variants in doublecortin- and calmodulin kinase like 1, a gene up-regulated by BDNF, are Associated with memory and general cognitive abilities. PLOS ONE.
  • Show author(s) (2009). Association of MCTP2 gene variants with schizophrenia in three independent samples of Scandinavian origin (SCOPE). Psychiatry Research. 256-258.
  • Show author(s) (2009). Association between the insulin-induced gene 2 (INSIG2) and weight gain in a German sample of antipsychotic-treated schizophrenic patients: perturbation of SREBP-controlled lipogenesis in drug-related metabolic adverse effects? Molecular Psychiatry. 308-317.
  • Show author(s) (2009). A possible association between schizophrenia and GRIK3 polymorphisms in a multicenter sample of Scandinavian origin (SCOPE). Schizophrenia Research. 242-248.
  • Show author(s) (2008). Polymorphisms in SREBF1 and SREBF2, two antipsychotic-activated transcription factors controlling cellular lipogenesis, are associated with schizophrenia in German and Scandinavian samples. Molecular Psychiatry.
  • Show author(s) (2008). Association between the insulin-induced gene 2 (INSIG2) and weight gain in a German sample of antipsychotic-treated schizophrenic patients: pertubation of SREBP-controlled lipogenesis in drug-realted metabolic adverse effects? Molecular Psychiatry. 308-317.
  • Show author(s) (2008). A possible association between schizophrenia and GRIK3 polymorphisms in a multicenter sample of Scandinavian origin (SCOPE). Schizophrenia Research.
Reader opinion piece
  • Show author(s) (2018). Multi-Trait analysis of gwas and biological insights into cognition: A response to Hill (2018). Twin Research and Human Genetics. 394-397.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Response to Zhu et al. American Journal of Human Genetics. 969-970.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Linkage-Disequilibrium-Based Binning Misleads the Interpretation of Genome-wide Association Studies Response. American Journal of Human Genetics. 969-970.
Doctoral dissertation
  • Show author(s) (2019). Clinical and molecular effects of guanylate cyclase C-activation.
  • Show author(s) (2018). An evolutionary epigenetics approach to schizophrenia.
  • Show author(s) (2015). A genetic study of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A cognitive endophenotype approach.
  • Show author(s) (2013). Human cognitive ability is influenced by genetic variation in components of postsynaptic signaling complexes assembled by MAGUK proteins. Behavior Genetics. 521-522.
  • Show author(s) (2012). No association of primary Sjögren's Syndrome with Fc gamma? Receptor gene variants. Scandinavian Journal of Immunology. 198-198.
  • Show author(s) (2010). Fc gamma receptor IIA, IIIA and IIIB single nucleotide polymorphisms and Fc gamma receptor IIIB copy number variation: No association with primary Sjögren's syndrome. Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology. 36-36.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Epigenetic Effects of THC and CBD in Neuronal Stem Cells.
  • Show author(s) (2011). Association between tumor necrosis factor, lymphotoxin alpha and beta genetic variants and primary Sjögren`s syndrome in Scandinavian samples.
  • Show author(s) (2009). Fc receptor IIA, IIIA and IIIB single nucleotide polymorphisms and Fc receptor IIIB copy number variation: No association with primary Sjögren’s syndrome.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Publisher Correction: Common brain disorders are associated with heritable patterns of apparent aging of the brain (Nature Neuroscience, (2019), 22, 10, (1617-1623), 10.1038/s41593-019-0471-7). Nature Neuroscience. 295.
  • Show author(s) (2019). Author Correction: Study of 300,486 individuals identifies 148 independent genetic loci influencing general cognitive function (Nature Communications, (2018), 9, 1, (2098), 10.1038/s41467-018-04362-x). Nature Communications.
Academic literature review
  • Show author(s) (2012). The Imaging and Cognition Genetics Conference 2011, ICG 2011: A Meeting of Minds. Frontiers in Neuroscience.

More information in national current research information system (CRIStin)

See my ORCID page:  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8085-051X