James Bennett Potash, M.D., M.P.H.

Headshot of James Bennett Potash
  • Henry Phipps Professor
  • Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Mood Disorders, Psychiatry, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences ...read more

Research Interests

genetic and epigenetic basis of mood disorders; bipolar disorder genetic sequencing; epigenetic mechanisms of stress on depression ...read more


Dr. Potash returned to Johns Hopkins as Director of Psychiatry and Psychiatrist-in-Chief in 2017. Prior to that he was Chair and Department Executive Officer of the University of Iowa Department of Psychiatry from 2011-17. Dr. Potash graduated in 1984 from Yale College, where he majored in English. Following graduation, he served in the Peace Corps in the West African country of Senegal, and there decided to become a physician. He completed his master’s degree in public health at Johns Hopkins, focusing on epidemiology and international health. He then went on to medical school at Hopkins, medical internship at Hopkins Bayview, and a year working as a general practitioner in another West African country, Benin. He returned to do his psychiatric residency at Hopkins and served as chief resident in 1997-98. He then joined Dr. Ray DePaulo’s mood disorders program, and eventually became the program’s research director before moving to Iowa. 

Dr. Potash’s work has focused on investigation of the genetic and epigenetic basis of mood disorders—depression and bipolar disorder. These efforts have resulted in over 170 publications and consistent NIH funding. He has been particularly interested in the genetic basis of the psychotic forms of bipolar disorder, and in the epigenetic mechanisms through which stress plays a role in depression. 

Dr. Potash co-leads the Bipolar Sequencing Consortium, and is a member of the Council on Research for the American Psychiatric Association. He serves as Treasurer for the International Society for Psychiatric Genetics, and he has played a leading role in the National Network of Depression Centers. 

In addition to his research endeavors, Dr. Potash is also an active clinician who sees mood disorders patients in the inpatient and outpatient settings.

...read more


  • Henry Phipps Professor
  • Director, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Departments / Divisions



  • MD; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1993)


  • Psychiatry; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1998)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Psychiatry And Neurology (Psychiatry) (1999)

Research & Publications

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Potash JB, Zandi PP, Willour VL, Lan TH, Avramopoulos D, Huo Y, Shugart YY, MacKinnon DF, Simpson SG, McMahon FJ, DePaulo Jr JR, McInnis MG. Suggestive linkage to chromosomal regions 13q31 and 22q12 in families with psychotic bipolar disorder. Am J Psychiatry 2003; 160:680-686

Willour VL, Chen H, Toolan J, Belmonte P, Cutler DJ, Goes FS, Zandi PP, Lee RS, MacKinnon DF, Mondimore FM, Schweizer B, Bipolar Disorder Phenome Group, NIMH Genetics Initiative Bipolar Disorder Consortium, DePaulo Jr JR, Gershon ES, McMahon FJ, Potash JB. Family-based association of FKBP5 in bipolar disorder. Mol Psychiatry 2009; 14(3):261-268.  

Lee RS, Tamashiro KL, Yang X, Purcell RH, Harvey A, Willour VL, Huo Y, Rongione M, Wand GS and Potash JB. Chronic corticosterone exposure increases expression and decreases DNA methylation of Fkbp5 in mice. Endocrinology 2010; 151:4332-4343

Sabunciyan S, Aryee MJ, Irizarry RA, Rongione M, Webster MJ, Kaufmann WE, Murakami P, Lessard A, GenRED consortium, Yolken RH, Feinberg AP, Potash JB. Genome-wide DNA methylation scan in major depressive disorder. PLoS One 2012; 7:e34451.

Goes FS, Pirooznia M, Parla JS, Kramer M, Ghiban E, Mavruk S, Chen YC, Monson E, Willour VL, Karchin R, Flickinger M, Locke AE, Levy S, Scott LJ, Boehnke M, BRIDGES Study investigators, Stahl E, Moran JL, McCarroll SA, Hultman CM, Landén M, Purcell SM, Sklar P, Zandi PP, McCombie WR, Potash JB. Exome sequencing of familial bipolar disorder. JAMA Psychiatry 2016; 73:590-7.

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