Scott T. Wilson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry
Columbia University Department of Psychiatry/
New York State Psychiatric Institute
New York, NY

Research Interests:

Dr. Wilson’s research interests include the study of the genetic influences on Borderline Personality Disorder, and the interaction between genetics and environmental factors that increase risk for BPD. His work has also been focused on the study of the etiology of suicidal and self-injurious behavior in this population, as well as on the development of endophenotypes for the disorder. His current research is focused on conducting single gene association studies using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and haplotypes from several genes expressed in the CNS in patients with borderline personality disorder and major depressive disorder, and on the study of the physiology and neurobiology of emotion regulation.

Abstract of Dr. Wilson’s Award Paper:

“Catechol O-methyltransferase Val158Met Genotype and Suicidal Behavior in Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder”

Objective: To determine whether the COMT A158G (Val/Met) polymorphism is associated with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or a history of suicidal behavior in patients with BPD, and whether genotype is related to trait impulsiveness or hostility.
Method: One hundred twenty-six patients diagnosed with BPD and either major depressive disorder (92) or bipolar disorder (34) (85 suicide attempters and 41 non-attempters) and 123 healthy controls were included. All were non-Hispanic Caucasians. Participants were genotyped for COMT-158 Val/Met polymorphism and assessed for DSM IV diagnoses using the SCID-I and II, lifetime suicidal behavior, trait impulsiveness and hostility.
Results: There was no difference in genotype frequencies between patients and controls. However, the BPD group with a history of suicidal behavior had a higher frequency of Met allele carriers compared with the non-attempter BPD group (χ2=3.87, df=1, p=.05). In addition, the non-attempters had a higher frequency of Val allele homozygotes compared to controls (χ2=3.76, df=1, p=.05), while the attempters were not significantly different from controls. Neither impulsiveness nor hostility was associated with COMT genotype or allele group in the full sample. Nonplanning impulsiveness was associated with COMT genotype in the patient group (F=4.22, df=1, p=.04), as well as with suicidal behavior in the patient group (F=5.38, df=1, p=.02). Regression analysis predicting suicide history from COMT genotype and nonplanning impulsiveness showed that the relationship between COMT and suicide was partially mediated by impulsiveness. There were no significant relationships between suicidality and any aspect of hostility.
Conclusion: The Met allele of the COMT A158G polymorphism may be associated with suicidal behavior in patients with BPD, while the Val/Val genotype may act to protect against suicidal behavior. In addition, aspects of impulsiveness were related to genotype in the patient group, but not in the full sample. The results suggest that the relationship between suicidal behavior and COMT may be in part due to COMT’s association with impulsiveness in patients with BPD.

Additional Information:

Dr. Wilson received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Rutgers University and his doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. He has also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Psychiatric Genetics in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. In addition to his research, he maintains an adult psychotherapy practice focused on the treatment of BPD and mood disorders.

Selected Publications:

Wilson, S. T., Stanley, B., Brent, D. A., Oquendo, M. A., Huang, Y. Y., Mann, J. J. (2009). The tryptophan hydroxylase 1 A218C polymorphism is associated with diagnosis, but not suicidal behavior, in borderline personality disorder. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics 150B(2), 202-208.

Wilson, S. T., Stanley, B. H., Oquendo, M., Goldberg, P., Zalsman, G., Mann, J. J. (2007). Comparing impulsivity, hostility, and depression in borderline personality disorder and bipolar II disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 68(10), 1533-1539.

Stanley, B., Wilson, S. T. (2006). Heightened subjective experience of depression in borderline personality disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders 20(4), 307-318.

Wilson, S. T., Fertuck, E. A, Kwitel, A., Stanley, M. C., Stanley, B. (2006). Impulsivity, suicidality, and alcohol use disorders in adolescents and young adults with borderline personality disorder. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 18(1), 189-196.