Research

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Jonathan  Picker, MBChB, PhD

Jonathan Picker MD PhD
Department:
Medicine Research
Division
Genetics and Genomics Research
Hospital Title:
Director, Fragile X Program
Academic Title:
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Research Focus Area:
Genetics
Contact Via Email
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Research Overview

Our research focuses on the neurobiology of behavioral disorders. We are particularly interested in developmental factors, which lead to the neurological problems seen in disorders such as schizophrenia, Fragile X syndrome and other neurocognitive disorders.

Homocystinuria
Many metabolic disorders can result in psychiatric disease as a consequence of biochemical imbalances in the brain. This includes homocystinuria, a metabolic disorder characterized by elevated levels of homocysteine. In collaboration with Susan Waisbren, PhD, and Harvey Levy, MD, we are investigating the biochemical changes that may underlie the neuropsychiatric symptoms that occur in patients suffering from various forms of this disease.

Fragile X
A number of promising targeted pharmaceutical agents are being developed for Fragile X syndrome. However, because the syndrome has a significant behavioral component that is difficult to measure quantitatively, the efficacy of these therapeutic strategies will be difficult to determine. We are evaluating transcranial magnetic stimulation as a potential way to quantify the effect of these drugs in Fragile X patients, as measured by brain activity, in hopes of using it in future clinical trials to measure the efficacy of these therapeutic agents.

For more information in this study, contact Lindsay Oberman at 617-667-5247 or loberman@bidmc.harvard.edu. We are also investigating the possibility of a targeted drug trial that would look at behavioral outcomes.

About Jonathan Picker

Jonathan Picker is director of the Fragile X program and an attending physician at Children's Hospital Boston. He received his PhD in Molecular Biology from Newcastle University in England and his medical degree (MBChB) from Aberdeen University in Scotland. He completed an internship in surgery at Salford Royal Hospital in England and in medicine at Noble's Hospital on the Isle of Man. He had training in pediatric surgery at Sheffield Children's Hospital (South Yorkshire) before carrying out a behaviorally oriented pediatric residency in the Newcastle University pediatric training program in England. He then completed a fellowship in Genetics at Harvard Medical School and a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Children's Hospital Boston. He is board-certified in clinical genetics.

Publications

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  1. Srivastava S, Olson HE, Cohen JS, Gubbels CS, Lincoln S, Davis BT, Shahmirzadi L, Gupta S, Picker J, Yu TW, Miller DT, Soul JS, Poretti A, Naidu S. BRAT1 mutations present with a spectrum of clinical severity. Am J Med Genet A. 2016 Sep; 170(9):2265-73.
  2. Oberman LM, Ifert-Miller F, Najib U, Bashir S, Heydrich JG, Picker J, Rotenberg A, Pascual-Leone A. Abnormal Mechanisms of Plasticity and Metaplasticity in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Fragile X Syndrome. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2016 Sep; 26(7):617-24.
  3. Okur V, Cho MT, Henderson L, Retterer K, Schneider M, Sattler S, Niyazov D, Azage M, Smith S, Picker J, Lincoln S, Tarnopolsky M, Brady L, Bjornsson HT, Applegate C, Dameron A, Willaert R, Baskin B, Juusola J, Chung WK. De novo mutations in CSNK2A1 are associated with neurodevelopmental abnormalities and dysmorphic features. Hum Genet. 2016 Jul; 135(7):699-705.
  4. Gil-Rodríguez MC, Deardorff MA, Ansari M, Tan CA, Parenti I, Baquero-Montoya C, Ousager LB, Puisac B, Hernández-Marcos M, Teresa-Rodrigo ME, Marcos-Alcalde I, Wesselink JJ, Lusa-Bernal S, Bijlsma EK, Braunholz D, Bueno-Martinez I, Clark D, Cooper NS, Curry CJ, Fisher R, Fryer A, Ganesh J, Gervasini C, Gillessen-Kaesbach G, Guo Y, Hakonarson H, Hopkin RJ, Kaur M, Keating BJ, Kibaek M, Kinning E, Kleefstra T, Kline AD, Kuchinskaya E, Larizza L, Li YR, Liu X, Mariani M, Picker JD, Pié Á, Pozojevic J, Queralt E, Richer J, Roeder E, Sinha A, Scott RH, So J, Wusik KA, Wilson L, Zhang J, Gómez-Puertas P, Casale CH, Ström L, Selicorni A, Ramos FJ, Jackson LG, Krantz ID, Das S, Hennekam RC, Kaiser FJ, FitzPatrick DR, Pié J. De novo heterozygous mutations in SMC3 cause a range of Cornelia de Lange syndrome-overlapping phenotypes. Hum Mutat. 2015 Apr; 36(4):454-62.
  5. Thaker VV, Esteves KM, Towne MC, Brownstein CA, James PM, Crowley L, Hirschhorn JN, Elsea SH, Beggs AH, Picker J, Agrawal PB. Whole exome sequencing identifies RAI1 mutation in a morbidly obese child diagnosed with ROHHAD syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 May; 100(5):1723-30.
  6. Geng J, Picker J, Zheng Z, Zhang X, Wang J, Hisama F, Brown DW, Mullen MP, Harris D, Stoler J, Seman A, Miller DT, Fu Q, Roberts AE, Shen Y. Chromosome microarray testing for patients with congenital heart defects reveals novel disease causing loci and high diagnostic yield. BMC Genomics. 2014; 15:1127.
  7. Heard TT, Ramgopal S, Picker J, Lincoln SA, Rotenberg A, Kothare SV. EEG abnormalities and seizures in genetically diagnosed Fragile X syndrome. Int J Dev Neurosci. 2014 Nov; 38:155-60.
  8. Picker JD, Walsh CA. New innovations: therapeutic opportunities for intellectual disabilities. Ann Neurol. 2013 Sep; 74(3):382-90.
  9. McLaughlin HM, Kelly MA, Hawley PP, Darras BT, Funke B, Picker J. Compound heterozygosity of predicted loss-of-function DES variants in a family with recessive desminopathy. BMC Med Genet. 2013; 14:68.
  10. Abrams L, Cronister A, Brown WT, Tassone F, Sherman SL, Finucane B, McConkie-Rosell A, Hagerman R, Kaufmann WE, Picker J, Coffey S, Skinner D, Johnson V, Miller R, Berry-Kravis E. Newborn, carrier, and early childhood screening recommendations for fragile X. Pediatrics. 2012 Dec; 130(6):1126-35.
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  12. Poduri A, Chopra SS, Neilan EG, Elhosary PC, Kurian MA, Meyer E, Barry BJ, Khwaja OS, Salih MA, Stödberg T, Scheffer IE, Maher ER, Sahin M, Wu BL, Berry GT, Walsh CA, Picker J, Kothare SV. Homozygous PLCB1 deletion associated with malignant migrating partial seizures in infancy. Epilepsia. 2012 Aug; 53(8):e146-50.
  13. Schaevitz LR, Picker JD, Rana J, Kolodny NH, Shane B, Berger-Sweeney JE, Coyle JT. Glutamate carboxypeptidase II and folate deficiencies result in reciprocal protection against cognitive and social deficits in mice: implications for neurodevelopmental disorders. Dev Neurobiol. 2012 Jun; 72(6):891-905.
  14. Coulter ME, Miller DT, Harris DJ, Hawley P, Picker J, Roberts AE, Sobeih MM, Irons M. Chromosomal microarray testing influences medical management. Genet Med. 2011 Sep; 13(9):770-6.
  15. Yu HE, Hawash K, Picker J, Stoler J, Urion D, Wu BL, Shen Y. A recurrent 1.71 Mb genomic imbalance at 2q13 increases the risk of developmental delay and dysmorphism. Clin Genet. 2012 Mar; 81(3):257-64.
  16. Dauber A, Hirschhorn JN, Picker J, Maher TA, Milunsky A. Delayed puberty due to a novel mutation in CHD7 causing CHARGE syndrome. Pediatrics. 2010 Dec; 126(6):e1594-8.
  17. Oberman L, Ifert-Miller F, Najib U, Bashir S, Woollacott I, Gonzalez-Heydrich J, Picker J, Rotenberg A, Pascual-Leone A. Transcranial magnetic stimulation provides means to assess cortical plasticity and excitability in humans with fragile x syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. Front Synaptic Neurosci. 2010; 2:26.
  18. Datta A, Picker J, Rotenberg A. Trisomy 8 mosaicism and favorable outcome after treatment of infantile spasms: case report. J Child Neurol. 2010 Oct; 25(10):1275-7.
  19. Ou Z, Berg JS, Yonath H, Enciso VB, Miller DT, Picker J, Lenzi T, Keegan CE, Sutton VR, Belmont J, Chinault AC, Lupski JR, Cheung SW, Roeder E, Patel A. Microduplications of 22q11.2 are frequently inherited and are associated with variable phenotypes. Genet Med. 2008 Apr; 10(4):267-77.
  20. Lawson-Yuen A, Saldivar JS, Sommer S, Picker J. Familial deletion within NLGN4 associated with autism and Tourette syndrome. Eur J Hum Genet. 2008 May; 16(5):614-8.
  21. Picker JD, Yang R, Ricceri L, Berger-Sweeney J. An altered neonatal behavioral phenotype in Mecp2 mutant mice. Neuroreport. 2006 Apr 3; 17(5):541-4.
  22. Alkuraya FS, Picker J, Irons MB, Kimonis VE. Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome in trisomy 13: how does the mix work? Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2005 Aug; 73(8):569-71.
  23. Picker JD, Coyle JT. Do maternal folate and homocysteine levels play a role in neurodevelopmental processes that increase risk for schizophrenia? Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2005 Jul-Aug; 13(4):197-205.
  24. Picker JD & Coyle JT . Do maternal folate and homocysteine levels play a role in neurodevelopmental processes which may relate to schizophrenia genesis. Harvard Review of Psychiatry. 2005; 13(4):197-205.
  25. Picker JD, Levy HL. . Homocystinuria. In: Genereviews at Genetests. 2003.
  26. Picker JD, Puga AC, Levy HL, Marsden D, Shih VE, Degirolami U, Ligon KL, Cederbaum SD, Kern RM, Cox GF. Arginase deficiency with lethal neonatal expression: evidence for the glutamine hypothesis of cerebral edema. J Pediatr. 2003 Mar; 142(3):349-52.
  27. Lin AE, Grossfeld PD, Hamilton RM, Smoot L, Gripp KW, Proud V, Weksberg R, Wheeler P, Picker J, Irons M, Zackai E, Marino B, Scott CI, Nicholson L. Further delineation of cardiac abnormalities in Costello syndrome. Am J Med Genet. 2002 Aug 1; 111(2):115-29.
  28. Picker JD, Cox GF, Fan YS, Fowler DJ, Weremowicz S, Morton CC, Lee C. Multicolor karyotypic interpretation of a heterochromatin-associated marker chromosome in a dysmorphic girl with developmental delay. Am J Med Genet. 2002 Jul 15; 110(4):393-6.
  29. Fowler DJ, Picker J, Waisbren SE, Levy HL. Neonatal screening for medium--chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency. Lancet. 2002 Feb 16; 359(9306):628.
  30. Lawson-Yuen A, Liu D, Han L, Jiang ZI, Tsai GE, Basu AC, Picker J, Feng J, Coyle JT. Ube3a mRNA and protein expression are not decreased in Mecp2R168X mutant mice. Brain Res. 2007 Nov 14; 1180:1-6.
  31. Talkowski ME, Ordulu Z, Pillalamarri V, Benson CB, Blumenthal I, Connolly S, Hanscom C, Hussain N, Pereira S, Picker J, Rosenfeld JA, Shaffer LG, Wilkins-Haug LE, Gusella JF, Morton CC. Clinical diagnosis by whole-genome sequencing of a prenatal sample. N Engl J Med. 2012 Dec 6; 367(23):2226-32.
  32. Ching MS, Shen Y, Tan WH, Jeste SS, Morrow EM, Chen X, Mukaddes NM, Yoo SY, Hanson E, Hundley R, Austin C, Becker RE, Berry GT, Driscoll K, Engle EC, Friedman S, Gusella JF, Hisama FM, Irons MB, Lafiosca T, LeClair E, Miller DT, Neessen M, Picker JD, Rappaport L, Rooney CM, Sarco DP, Stoler JM, Walsh CA, Wolff RR, Zhang T, Nasir RH, Wu BL. Deletions of NRXN1 (neurexin-1) predispose to a wide spectrum of developmental disorders. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2010 Jun 5; 153B(4):937-47.
  33. Han L, Picker JD, Schaevitz LR, Tsai G, Feng J, Jiang Z, Chu HC, Basu AC, Berger-Sweeney J, Coyle JT. Phenotypic characterization of mice heterozygous for a null mutation of glutamate carboxypeptidase II. Synapse. 2009 Aug; 63(8):625-35.
  34. Hagerman RJ, Berry-Kravis E, Kaufmann WE, Ono MY, Tartaglia N, Lachiewicz A, Kronk R, Delahunty C, Hessl D, Visootsak J, Picker J, Gane L, Tranfaglia M. Advances in the treatment of fragile X syndrome. Pediatrics. 2009 Jan; 123(1):378-90.
  35. Picker JD, Fox DP. Do curried foods produce micronuclei in buccal epithelial cells? Mutat Res. 1986 Aug-Sep; 171(2-3):185-8.
  36. Shen Y, Dies KA, Holm IA, Bridgemohan C, Sobeih MM, Caronna EB, Miller KJ, Frazier JA, Silverstein I, Picker J, Weissman L, Raffalli P, Jeste S, Demmer LA, Peters HK, Brewster SJ, Kowalczyk SJ, Rosen-Sheidley B, McGowan C, Duda AW, Lincoln SA, Lowe KR, Schonwald A, Robbins M, Hisama F, Wolff R, Becker R, Nasir R, Urion DK, Milunsky JM, Rappaport L, Gusella JF, Walsh CA, Wu BL, Miller DT. Clinical genetic testing for patients with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2010 Apr; 125(4):e727-35.
  37. Brownstein CA, Beggs AH, Rodan L, Shi J, Towne MC, Pelletier R, Cao S, Rosenberg PA, Urion DK, Picker J, Tan WH, Agrawal PB. Clinical heterogeneity associated with KCNA1 mutations include cataplexy and nonataxic presentations. Neurogenetics. 2016 Jan; 17(1):11-6.
  38. Brownstein CA, Kleiman RJ, Engle EC, Towne MC, D'Angelo EJ, Yu TW, Beggs AH, Picker J, Fogler JM, Carroll D, Schmitt RC, Wolff RR, Shen Y, Lip V, Bilguvar K, Kim A, Tembulkar S, O'Donnell K, Gonzalez-Heydrich J. Overlapping 16p13.11 deletion and gain of copies variations associated with childhood onset psychosis include genes with mechanistic implications for autism associated pathways: Two case reports. Am J Med Genet A. 2016 May; 170A(5):1165-73.
  39. Rodan LH, Cohen J, Fatemi A, Gillis T, Lucente D, Gusella J, Picker JD. A novel neurodevelopmental disorder associated with compound heterozygous variants in the huntingtin gene. Eur J Hum Genet. 2016 Dec; 24(12):1826-1827.
  40. Rodan LH, Cohen J, Fatemi A, Gillis T, Lucente D, Gusella J, Picker JD. A novel neurodevelopmental disorder associated with compound heterozygous variants in the huntingtin gene. Eur J Hum Genet. 2016 Dec; 24(12):1833.
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