Azmeraw Amare

Azmeraw Amare

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Dr. Azmeraw Amare is a clinical and genetic epidemiologist interested in Precision medicine, pharmacogenomics, and translational medicine, and with particular expertise in using genetic and bioinformatic approaches to understand the biological basis of complex health conditions related to mental wellbeing, pharmacogenomics, cardiometabolic disorders and healthy ageing.

He has an interdisciplinary educational background, with academic qualifications in clinical and genetic epidemiology (the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, MSc), public health research methodology (Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, MPH), and Medicine (the University of Adelaide in Australia, PhD). He is currently the US Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation (BBRF) NARSAD Young Investigator (0.4FTE), where he is working on “the application of artificial intelligence on human genomic data”, a research fellow at the National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Frailty and Healthy Ageing (0.6FTE) and leads the G-ENomics of mentAl well-Being and heaLthy age-ING (ENABLING) research group based at the Adelaide Medical School.

His research, which has been conducted in collaboration with scientists around the world, has sought to find an answer to fundamental questions about how genetics and the interaction between genetic and environmental factors regulate individuals’ risk to mental illness and response to pharmacological treatment. He has led several genetic association studies that identified novel genes underlying; (i) risk to mental illness (Amare AT, et al. Nature: Molecular Psychiatry, 2020), (ii) response to pharmacological treatment (Amare AT, et al. JAMA Psychiatry 2018; 75(1): 65-74.), (iii) variability in cardiovascular traits (Nolte IM, Munoz ML, Tragante V, Amare AT, et al. Nature Communications 2017; 8: 15805) and (iv) the overlapping effects of mental- and physical medical disorders (Amare AT, et al. Translational Psychiatry 2017; 7: e1007). The impact of his work has been recognised by prizes, scholarships and grant awards.

Dr Amare has an extraordinary publication track record, having authored or co-authored 82 articles (13 as a first/last author) and a book chapter, with 89% of them published in prestigious SCImago Q1 journals including in Nature, Nature Communications, Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA Psychiatry and Molecular Psychiatry, 54.4% listed in top 1%, 75% in top 10% (InCites). Dr Amare was selected by the Australian Review in consecutive years (2019 and 2020) as one of Australia’s top 40 Rising stars (best of 5 in Health and Medical Sciences list) among early-career researchers under 10 years.

Over 39,000 citations and H-index 49 (Google Scholar)

GENomics of mentAl wellBeing and heaLthy age-ING — ENABLING research group 

Vision and overall aim

Our DNA carries the basic instructions needed to reproduce, develop, survive and restore cellular damages. Unpacking DNA information and understanding the mechanisms of how the instruction in DNA is converted into proteins and interacts with the external environment is vital for a personalised approach to treatment, disease prevention and/or health promotion — to ultimately realise century’s vision of precision medicine. Our group applies state-of-the-art data science techniques to understand the genetic and environmental determinants underlying the variability of human complex phenotypes including risk to diseases and response to treatment. Specifically, we are interested in studying the omics of complex phenotypes across the dripline of mental health and healthy ageing, including genomics (DNA), epigenomes, transcriptomics (RNA), proteomics (Protein), metabolomics and microbiomes).

Leveraging genomic data obtained from international biobanks, our research applies advanced bioinformatic techniques to explore the “omics” of (a) risk and pharmacological treatment response to mental health disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia), (b) neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer's disease and other dementias), (c) ageing traits (frailty, longevity, cognition and intrinsic capacity) and (d)mechanism of genetic overlap across physical medical and mental health disorders. 

Because these phenotypes “polygenic” traits, influenced by the combined effect of several genetic and environmental factors, our research also aims to understand how polygenic risk and environmental factors interact and then influence the variability of complex traits. 

Areas of research include
• The genomics of risk to mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia)
• Genomics of neurodegenerative disorders and other ageing traits (longevity, frailty, cognition and intrinsic capacity)
• Pharmacogenomics in the treatment of mental illness
• Mechanism of genetic overlap across physical medical and mental health disorders
• The epidemiology of mental illness and effective clinical interventions
• Digital mental health

Lead researcher: Dr Azmeraw Amare

Research team
• A/Prof K Oliver Schubert
• A/Prof Scott Clark
• Dr Natalie Mills
• Dr Liliana Ciobanu 
• Micah Cearns (PhD student)

• Prof Bernhard Baune – University of Münster, Germany
• Prof Renuka Visvanathan –University of Adelaide, Australia
• Prof Harold Snieder – the University of Groningen, the Netherlands
• A/Prof Sarah Cohen-Woods – Flinders University, Australia
• A/Prof Yi-Hsiang Hsu – Harvard Medical school, the United States of America
• Dr Fasil Tekola Ayele – National Institute of Health (NIH), the United States of America

Grants, Scholarships and Awards

  • 2020-2022 Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation NARSAD young investigator grant (AUD 102,000).
  • 2019 & 2020 (two consecutive years) Recognised as one of Australia’s top 40 Rising stars (best of 5 in Health & Medical Sciences list) among all researchers under 10 years into their research career by The Australian newspaper research Review. 
  • 2018 University of Adelaide Doctoral Research Medal for Outstanding research at PhD level and Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence.
  • 2017 University of Adelaide international research travel grant (AUD 3000).
  • 2017 World Psychiatric Association Young Scientists Fellowship by the World Psychiatric Association [Germany].
  • 2015-2018 Adelaide Scholarship International [Australia].
  • 2014 University of Washington summer Scholarship to attend the 19th summer institute in statistical genetics courses [USA].
  • 2012-2014 University of Groningen International Scholarship for Postgraduate Study [Netherlands]
  • 2011-2012 Government of Belgium University Commission for Development (CIUF-CUD) Postgraduate Scholarship [Belgium].

Selected Publications

  1. Amare AT, Schubert KO, Hou L, Clark SR, Papiol S, Heilbronner U et al. Association of Polygenic Score for Schizophrenia and HLA Antigen and Inflammation Genes With Response to Lithium in Bipolar Affective Disorder: A Genome-Wide Association Study. JAMA Psychiatry 2018; 75(1): 65-74.
  2. Amare AT, Ahmad Vaez, Yi-Hsiang Hsu, Nese Direk, Zoha Kamali, David M. Howard, Andrew M. McIntosh, Henning Tiemeier, Ute Bültmann, Harold Snieder, Catharina A. Hartman. Bivariate genome-wide association analyses of a broad depression phenotype combined with major depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia reveal eight novel genetic loci for depression. Nature: Molecular Psychiatry 2020, 25(7), 1420-1429.
  3.   Amare AT, Schubert KO, Klingler-Hoffmann M, Cohen-Woods S, Baune BT. The genetic overlap between mood disorders and cardiometabolic diseases: a systematic review of genome-wide and candidate gene studies. Translational Psychiatry 2017; 7: e1007.
  4. Amare AT, Schubert KO, Baune BT. Pharmacogenomics in the treatment of mood disorders: Strategies and Opportunities for personalized psychiatry. The EPMA journal 2017; 8(3): 211-227.
  5.  Amare AT, Schubert KOT, Schulze TG, Baune B. Association of Polygenic Score for Major Depression with Response to Lithium in Patients with Bipolar Disorder. Nature: Molecular Psychiatry, 2020.
  6. Amare AT, Schubert KO, Tekola-Ayele F, Hsu YH, Sangkuhl K, Jenkins G et al. Association of the Polygenic Scores for Personality Traits and Response to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder. Frontiers in Psychiatry 2018; 9: 65.
  7. Amare AT, Schubert KO, Tekola-Ayele F, Hsu YH, Sangkuhl K, Jenkins G et al. The association of obesity and coronary artery disease genes with response to SSRIs treatment in major depression. Journal of neural transmission  2019.
  8. Tekola-Ayele F, Workalemahu T, Amare AT. High burden of birthweight-lowering genetic variants in Africans and Asians. BMC medicine 2018; 16(1): 70.
  9.  Stacey D, Schubert KO, Clark SR, Amare AT, Milanesi E, Maj C et al. A gene co-expression module implicating the mitochondrial electron transport chain is associated with long-term response to lithium treatment in bipolar affective disorder. Transl Psychiatry 2018; 8(1): 183.
  10. Opel N, Amare AT, Redlich R, Repple J, Kaehler C, Grotegerd D et al. Cortical surface area alterations shaped by the genetic load for neuroticism. Molecular Psychiatry 2018.
  11. Nolte IM, Munoz ML, Tragante V, Amare AT, Jansen R, Vaez A et al. Genetic loci associated with heart rate variability and their effects on cardiac disease risk. Nature Communications 2017; 8: 15805.
  12.  Haljas K, Amare AT, Alizadeh BZ, Hsu YH, Mosley T, Newman A et al. Bivariate Genome-Wide Association Study of Depressive Symptoms With Type 2 Diabetes and Quantitative Glycemic Traits. Psychosomatic medicine 2018; 80(3): 242-251.
  13. Ni G, Amare AT, Zhou X, Mills N, Gratten J, Lee SH. The genetic relationship between female reproductive traits and six psychiatric disorders. Sci Rep 2019; 9(1): 12041.
  14. Direk N, Williams S, Smith JA, Ripke S, Air T, Amare AT, et al. An Analysis of Two Genome-wide Association Meta-analyses Identifies a New Locus for Broad Depression Phenotype. Biological Psychiatry 2017; 82(5): 322-329.
  15.  Ciobanu LG, Ferrari AJ, Erskine HE, Santomauro DF, Charlson FJ, Leung J Amare AT et al. The prevalence and burden of mental and substance use disorders in Australia: Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry 2018; 52(5): 483-490.
  16. Amare AT, Caughey GE, Whitehead C, Lang CE, Bray SCE, Corlis M, Visvanathan R, Wesselingh S, Inacio MC. The prevalence, trends and determinants of mental health disorders in older Australians living in permanent residential aged care: Implications for policy and quality of aged care services. The Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2020; 54(12): 1200-1211.
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2020 Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    2018 - 2020 Postdoc South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
    2018 - 2022 Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2015 - 2018 PhD University of Adelaide
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2019 Award 2018 Doctoral Research Medal for Outstanding research at PhD level University of Adelaide Australia Gold Medal
    2018 Research Award Dean's Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence University of Adelaide Australia
    2017 Fellowship 2017 World congress of psychiatry Young Fellowship Programme World Psychiatric Association Germany
    2015 Scholarship Adelaide Scholarship International (ASI) University of Adelaide Australia
    2014 Scholarship 19th summer institute in statistical genetics courses in Seattle University of Washington United States
    2012 Scholarship CPE-SHARE research institute, University Medical center Groningen University of Groningen Netherlands
    2011 Scholarship CIUF-CUD Scholarship for postgraduate Study Belgium University Commission for Development (CIUF-CUD) Belgium
    2006 Award Top student and gold medal among 2006 graduates in the faculty of public health Hawassa University Ethiopia Gold Medal
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2015 - 2018 University of Adelaide Australia PhD in Medicine
    2014 - 2014 University of Groningen, Groningen Netherlands Master of Science in Clinical and Psychosocial Epidemiology (Research master)
    2011 - 2012 Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels Belgium Master in research methodology
  • Certifications

    Date Title Institution name Country
    2014 19th Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics University of Washington United States
  • Research Interests


    Course coordinator and lecturer for the course "Genetic Epidemiology"

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    • Campus: North Terrace
    • Building: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences, floor 7
    • Room: WS7062.37
    • Org Unit: Health and Medical Sciences Faculty Office

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