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Eric Johnson

Senior Fellow, Senior Research Scientist

Eric Johnson, PhD, has more than 18 years of experience bridging the fields of social and genetic epidemiology: examining mental, substance use, and sleep disorders, as well as HIV. He has authored more than 75 peer-reviewed journal articles on these areas of research.

Dr. Johnson is currently leading several major studies regarding HIV and substance use focused on gene discovery, gene by environment interactions, and epigenetics. These studies are helping researchers identify genetic variants and potential molecular mechanisms underlying risks associated with developing these conditions. With this information, Dr. Johnson and his colleagues hope to identify new targets for medication development and better target therapies for HIV or substance dependencies to individual patient's needs. Previously, he led a sleep disorder study that found insomnia was common among teens and may lead to psychiatric disorders.

He now serves as the chair of the Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology Study Section in the Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Johnson has served on numerous other review and expert panels across the NIH.


Postdoctoral fellowships in epidemiology (Johns Hopkins University) and genetics (National Institute on Drug Abuse); PhD, Sociology, Western Michigan University; MA, Sociology, Western Michigan University; BA, Sociology and Psychology, Olivet Nazarene University.

Latest Publications

Hancock, D.B., Wang, J.C., Gaddis, N.C., Levy, J.L., Saccone, N.L., Stitzel, J.A., Goate, A., Bierut, L.J., & Johnson, E.O. (2015). A multiancestry study identifies novel genetic associations with CHRNA5 methylation in human brain and risk of nicotine dependence. Human molecular genetics, 24 (20):5940-5954.
Hancock, D.B., Levy, J.L., Gaddis, N.C., Glasheen, C., Saccone, N.L., Page, G.P., Hulse, G.K., Wildenauer, D., Kelty, E.A., Schwab, S.G., Degenhardt, L., Martin, N.G., Montgomery, G.W., Attia, J., Holliday, E.G., McEvoy, M., Scott, R.J., Bierut, L.J., Nelson, E.C., Kral, A.H., & Johnson, E.O. (2015). Cis-expression quantitative trait loci mapping reveals replicable associations with heroin addiction in OPRM1. Biological Psychiatry, 78 (7):474-484.
Schwantes-An, T.H., Zhang, J., Chen, L.S., Hartz, S.M., Culverhouse, R.C., Chen, X., Coon, H., Frank, J., Kamens, H.M., Konte, B., Kovanen, L., Latvala, A., Legrand, L.N., Maher, B.S., Melroy, W.E., Nelson, E.C., Reid, M.W., Robinson, J.D., Shen, P.H., Yang, B.Z., Andrews, J.A., Aveyard, P., Beltcheva, O., Brown, S.A., Cannon, D.S., Cichon, S., Corley, R.P., Dahmen, N., Degenhardt, L., Foroud, T., Gaebel, W., Giegling, I., Glatt, S.J., Grucza, R.A., Hardin, J., Hartmann, A.M., Heath, A.C., Herms, S., Hodgkinson, C.A., Hoffmann, P., Hops, H., Huizinga, D., Ising, M., Johnson, E.O., et al. (2015). Association of the OPRM1 Variant rs1799971 (A118G) with Non-Specific Liability to Substance Dependence in a Collaborative de novo Meta-Analysis of European-Ancestry Cohorts. Behavior Genetics, Advance Online Publication .
Hancock, D.B., Levy, J.L., Gaddis, N.C., Glasheen, C., Saccone, N.L., Page, G.P., Bierut, L.J., Kral, A.H., & Johnson, E.O. (2015). Replication of ZNF804A gene variant associations with risk of heroin addiction. Genes Brain and Behavior, Advance Online Publication .
Chen, L.S., Baker, T.B., Jorenby, D., Piper, M., Saccone, N., Johnson, E., et al. (2015). Genetic variation (CHRNA5), medication (combination nicotine replacement therapy vs. varenicline), and smoking cessation. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 154 :278-282.
View all publications by Eric Johnson (86)


  • Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorder Research
  • Epidemiology of Sleep Disorders
  • Genetic Epidemiology