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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

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.
Olfson, E., Saccone, N.L., Johnson, E.O., Chen, L.S., Culverhouse, R., Doheny, K., et al. (2015). Rare, low frequency and common coding variants in CHRNA5 and their contribution to nicotine dependence in European and African Americans. Molecular Psychiatry, Advance Online Publication .
Johnson, E.O., Hancock, D.B., Levy, J.L., Gaddis, N.C., Page, G.P., Glasheen, C., Saccone, N.L., Bierut, L.J., & Kral, A.H. (2015). KAT2B polymorphism identified for drug abuse in African Americans with regulatory links to drug abuse pathways in human prefrontal cortex. Addiction Biology, Advance Online Publication .
Chen, L.S., Hung, R.J., Baker, T., Horton, A., Culverhouse, R., Saccone, N., Cheng, I., Deng, B., Han, Y.H., Hansen, H.M., Horsman, J., Kim, C., Lutz, S., Rosenberger, A., Aben, K.K., Andrew, A.S., Breslau, N., Chang, S.C., Dieffenbach, A.K., Dienemann, H., Frederiksen, B., Han, J.L., Hatsukami, D.K., Johnson, E.O., et al. (2015). CHRNA5 risk variant predicts delayed smoking cessation and earlier lung cancer diagnosis-A meta-analysis. Jnci-Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 107 (5).
Hancock, D.B., Gaddis, N.C., Levy, J.L., Bierut, L.J., Kral, A.H., & Johnson, E.O. (2015). Associations of common variants in the BST2 region with HIV-1 acquisition in African American and European American people who inject drugs. AIDS, 29 (7):767-777.
View all publications by Eric Johnson (83)


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