Research Assistant Professor of Medicine
Genetic Medicine

Research Instructor

Professional Bio

Maria Niarchou, PhD, is a Research Instructor in the Division of Genetic Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Following a degree in psychology at the University of Athens (Greece), an MSc in Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol (UK), and a PhD at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University (UK), Dr. Niarchou was awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship. During her four-year fellowship, Dr. Niarchou worked as a research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania under the supervision of Prof. Raquel Gur, at the University of Queensland (Australia) under the supervision of Prof. Naomi Wray, and at VUMC under the supervision of Dr. Lea Davis, where she received advanced statistical training and immersed herself in projects using biobank data.

Dr. Niarchou’s research aims to establish the etiological mechanisms underlying risk for major neuropsychiatric disorders. She is especially interested in how the interaction of multiple genetic and environmental factors can contribute to the development of psychiatric symptomatology. She has used many different study designs including longitudinal epidemiological studies and genetic studies to elucidate these relationships. Dr Niarchou’s research focus during her PhD and postdoctoral work was on examining the role of Copy Number Variants (i.e., deletions and duplications of genetic material) in the development of psychiatric problems in children and adolescents.

Dr. Niarchou’s research interests have now expanded also to examine how common genetic variation can explain risk for psychiatric disorders. She is particularly intrigued by how polygenic risk, rare variant risk, and environment combine to contribute to major neuropsychiatric disorders.


MS - Neuropsychology - Bristol University - 2009
PhD - Psychology - Cardiff University - 2014
Fellowship - Vis Research Fellow - University of Pennsylvania - 2016
Fellowship - University of Queensland Queensland - 2018
Fellowship - Vanderbilt University Medical Center Medical Center - 2020