Sebastian Zöllner, Ph.D.

Professor of Biostatistics
Professor of Psychiatry
University of Michigan

“Genetics promises to provide unique insights into the biology of psychiatric disorders. Evolution complexified our genome so that obtaining these insights requires large samples and advanced computational methods."

-Sebastian Zöllner, Ph.D. 


Dr. Zöllner received his M.S. in Mathematics and his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Munich, Germany. After a stint as a post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, he joined the University of Michigan in 2005. Now he is a Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and the Department of Psychiatry. His research focuses on questions that lie at the intersection between population genetics and genetic epidemiology. He aims to understand processes that generate risk alleles underlying bipolar disorder and other diseases and to design more powerful genetic studies to identify these risk variants.

As a member of the Prechter bipolar research team, Dr. Zöllner leads the analysis of the genetic data generated from research participants in the Prechter cohort. These data can identify important covariates for epidemiological analyses and they identify samples of interest for several collaborative programs focused on bipolar disorder. Dr. Zöllner’s work focuses on combining the Prechter data with data from other large research studies and develop predictive models for disease risk and disease progression. Moreover, he supports program leadership in developing analytical and data management strategies.

Dr. Zöllner is a member of several large NIH-funded bipolar genetics research programs. He also leads NIH-funded programs to improve the analysis of next-generation sequencing data based on population genetic principles and to understand the process of germline mutation from rare variation.