The main research interest of the lab is to identify and characterize genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors underlying complex neurodevelopmental neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disease/disorders, and the variations in treatment outcomes.

Our aim is to improve understanding of various brain-related disorders and diseases and their relationship to normal human cognitive function. Through the integration of genetics, functional genomics, genetic epidemiology and bioinformatics, our research goals include description of etiology underlying complex disorders, earlier and more accurate diagnosis methods, and the discovery of biomarkers that can predict treatment outcomes. We are always interested in strategic collaborations, so contact us today to discuss how our research projects intersect.

Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Disorders (POND) Network

There is a clear and urgent need for new and better-targeted therapies for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders that include behavioural and psychosocial interventions. To address these gaps, the POND Network has brought together a multidisciplinary team of scientists, clinicians, engineers, and community stakeholders who share the goal of improving the long-term outcomes for children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Identification of genetic variants

To identify novel ASD susceptibility genes, Q-GLO studies sporadic cases of ASD (no family history of ASD) to look for de novo mutations in the proband, and complex cases of ASD (have family history of ASD) for inherited and shared variants between family members. To identify these variants, Q-GLO employs several sequencing strategies including targeted gene panels, whole exome, and whole genome sequencing

Gut-brain axis

The healthy human gut contains a network of millions of bacteria that help to digest food, fight infection and promote human health. Stress, changes in diet, antibiotic use, and other environmental conditions can disrupt the bacterial network, which in turns contributes to a wide range of illnesses. Our research aims to describe the microbiome (bacteria and bacterial genes) in individuals diagnosed with a neurodevelopment disorder (ASD and ADHD) or mood disorder (depression and anxiety) compared with their neurotypical, cohabiting siblings.

“The ARBA” Study

We are currently investigating a study drug called arbaclofen to improve social functioning in children and teens with Autism. This study is comparing arbaclofen against placebo for improving social & global function and communication.

Brain derived biomarkers

Exosomes are small, membrane bound vesicles that are release by all cell types, including neurons, into the extracellular environment. Exosomes can released by neurons in the brain into the blood stream, cross the blood-brain-barrier, and exert effects on peripheral tissues. Our research aims to isolate brain-derived exosomes from peripheral blood as a window into the brain allowing for identification of biomarkers that may be indicators of disease.

Research Registry and biorepository

Q-GLO hosts a research registry and biorepository to collect and store contact information and samples for future research and collorative projects. Join the research registry today and Q-GLO will contact you when a research study that you are eligble for becomes available.



Sjaarda CP, Rustom N, Huang D, Perez-Patrigeon S, Hudson ML, Wong H, Guan TH, Ayub M, Soares CN, Colautti RI, Evans GA, & Sheth PM. Chasing the origin of SARS-CoV-2 in Canada’s COVID-19 cases: A genomics study. bioRxiv. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.25.171744

Sjaarda CP, Kaiser B, McNaughton AJM, Hudson ML, Harris-Lowe L, Lou K, Guerin A, Ayub M, & Liu X. (2020). De novo duplication on chromosome 19 observed in nuclear family displaying neurodevelopmental disorders. Cold Spring Harb Mol Case Stud mcs.a004721. doi:https://doi.org/10.1101/mcs.a004721

Trost B, Engchuan W, Nguyen CM, Thiruvahindrapuram B, Dolzhenko E, Backstrom I, Mirceta M, Mojarad, B A, Yin Y, Dov A, Chandrakumar I, Prasolava T, Shum N, Hamdan O, Pellecchia G, Howe JL, Whitney J, Klee E W, Baheti S, Amaral DG, Anagnostou E, Elsabbagh M, Fernandez BA, Hoang N, Lewis MES, Liu X, Sjaarda C, Smith IM, Szatmari P, Zwaigenbaum L, Glazer D, Hartley D, Stewart AK, Eberle MA, Sato N, Pearson CE, Scherer SW, Yuen RKC. (2020). Genome-wide detection of tandem DNA repeats that are expanded in autism. Nature. doi:https://doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2579-z


Callaghan DB, Rogic S, Tan PPC, Calli K, Qiao Y, Baldwin R, Jacobson M, Belmadani M, Holmes N, Yu C, Li Y, Li Y, Kurtzke FE, Kuzeljevic B, Yu AY, Hudson M, McNaughton AJM, Xu Y, Dionne-Laporte A, Girard S, Liang P, Separovic ER, Liu X, Rouleau G, Pavlidis P, & Lewis MES. (2019). Whole genome sequencing and variant discovery in the ASPIRE autism spectrum disorder cohort. Clin. Genet, 96(3), 199-206. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/cge.13556

Cook, E., Izukawa, T., Young, S., Rosen, G., Jamali, M., Zhang, L., Johnson, D., Bain, E., Hilland, J., Ferrone, C., Buckstein, J., Francis, J., Momtaz, B., McNaughton, A., Liu, X., Snetsinger, B., Buckstein, R., & Rauh, M. (2019). Comorbid and inflammatory characteristics of genetic subtypes of clonal hematopoiesis. Blood Advances, 3, 2482-2486. doi:https://doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2018024729

Feldman MA, Azzano A, Ward RA, Hudson M, Sjaarda, CP, Liu X. (2019). Relationship of family history conditions and early signs of autism spectrum disorder in low and high-risk infants. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 65, 25-33. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2019.05.002

McDonnell, C., DeLucia, E., Hayden, E., Anagnostou, E., Nicolson, R., Kelley, E., Georgiades, S., Liu, X., & Stevenson, R. (2019). An Exploratory Analysis of Predictors of Youth Suicide-Related Behaviors in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Implications for Prevention Science. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04320-6

Sjaarda, C. P., Sabbagh, M., Wood, S., Ward-King, J., McNaughton, A. J. M., Hudson, M. L., Tao, M., Ayub, M., & Liu, X. (2019). Homozygosity for the 10-repeat dopamine transporter (DAT1) allele is associated with reduced EEG response in males with ASD. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 60, 25-35. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2018.12.003

Sjaarda, C. P., Wood, S., McNaughton, A. J. M., Taylor, S., Hudson, M. L., Liu, X., Guerin, A., & Ayub, M. (2019). Exome sequencing identifies de novo splicing variant in XRCC6 in sporadic case of autism. J Hum Genet. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/s10038-019-0707-0

Zarrei, M., Burton, C., Engchuan, W., Young, E., Higginbotham, E., Macdonald, J., Trost, B., Chan, A., Walker, S., Lamoureux, S., Heung, T., Mojarad, B., Kellam, B., Paton, T., Faheem, M., Miron, K., Lu, C., Wang, T., Samler, K., & Scherer, S. (2019). A large data resource of genomic copy number variation across neurodevelopmental disorders. npj Genomic Medicine, 4. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41525-019-0098-3

Zhao, Y., Tyrishkin, K., Sjaarda, C., Khanal, P., Stafford, J., Rauh, M., Liu, X., Babak, T., & Yang, X. (2019). A one-step tRNA-CRISPR system for genome-wide genetic interaction mapping in mammalian cells. Scientific Reports. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-51090-3


Normandeau, C. P., Ventura-Silva, A. P., Hawken, E. R., Angelis, S., Sjaarda, C., Liu, X., Pego, J. M., & Dumont, E. C. (2018). A Key Role for Neurotensin in Chronic-Stress-Induced Anxiety-Like Behavior in Rats. Neuropsychopharmacology, 43(2), 285-293. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2017.134


Cohen, I., Liu, X., Hudson, M., Gillis, J., Cavalari, R., Romanczyk, R., Karmel, B., & Gardner, J. (2017). Level 2 Screening With the PDD Behavior Inventory: Subgroup Profiles and Implications for Differential Diagnosis. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 32, 299-315. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0829573517721127

Li, W., Zhang, L., Luo, X., Liu, B., Liu, Z., Lin, F., Liu, Z., Xie, Y., Hudson, M., Rathod, S., Husain, N., Liu, X., Ayub, M., & Naeem, F. (2017). A qualitative study to explore views of patients’ , carers’ and mental health professionals’ to inform cultural adaptation of CBT for psychosis (CBTp) in China. BMC Psychiatry, 17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-017-1290-6

Sjaarda, C. P., Hecht, P., McNaughton, A. J. M., Zhou, A., Hudson, M. L., Will, M. J., Smith, G., Ayub, M., Liang, P., Chen, N., Beversdorf, D., & Liu, X. (2017). Interplay between maternal Slc6a4 mutation and prenatal stress: a possible mechanism for autistic behavior development. Sci. Rep, 7(1), 8735. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-07405-3

Tan, Y. Q., Tu, C., Meng, L., Yuan, S., Sjaarda, C., Luo, A., Du, J., Li, W., Gong, F., Zhong, C., Deng, H. X., Lu, G., Liang, P., & Lin, G. (2017). Loss-of-function mutations in TDRD7 lead to a rare novel syndrome combining congenital cataract and nonobstructive azoospermia in humans. Genet. Med. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/gim.2017.130

Xi, Y., Arbabi, A., McNaughton, A., Hamilton, A., Hull, D., Perras, H., Chiu, T., Morrison, S., Goldsmith, C., Creede, E., Anger, G., Honeywell, C., Cloutier, M., Macchio, N., Kiss, C., Liu, X., Crocker, S., Davies, G., Brudno, M., & Armour, C. (2017). Noninvasive Prenatal Detection of Trisomy 21 by Targeted Semiconductor Sequencing: A Technical Feasibility Study. Fetal diagnosis and therapy, 42. doi: https://doi.org/10.1159/000460248

Yuen, R. K. C., Merico, D., Bookman, M., Howe, L., Thiruvahindrapuram, B., Patel, R. V., Whitney, J., Deflaux, N., Bingham, J., Wang, Z., Pellecchia, G., Buchanan, J. A., Walker, S., Marshall, C. R., Uddin, M., Zarrei, M., Deneault, E., D’Abate, L., Chan, A. J., Koyanagi, S., Paton, T., Pereira, S. L., Hoang, N., Engchuan, W., Higginbotham, E. J., Ho, K., Lamoureux, S., Li, W., MacDonald, J. R., Nalpathamkalam, T., Sung, W. W., Tsoi, F. J., Wei, J., Xu, L., Tasse, A. M., Kirby, E., Van, E. W., Twigger, S., Roberts, W., Drmic, I., Jilderda, S., Modi, B. M., Kellam, B., Szego, M., Cytrynbaum, C., Weksberg, R., Zwaigenbaum, L., Woodbury-Smith, M., Brian, J., Senman, L., Iaboni, A., Doyle-Thomas, K., Thompson, A., Chrysler, C., Leef, J., Savion-Lemieux, T., Smith, I. M., Liu, X., Nicolson, R., Seifer, V., Fedele, A., Cook, E. H., Dager, S., Estes, A., Gallagher, L., Malow, B. A., Parr, J. R., Spence, S. J., Vorstman, J., Frey, B. J., Robinson, J. T., Strug, L. J., Fernandez, B. A., Elsabbagh, M., Carter, M. T., Hallmayer, J., Knoppers, B. M., Anagnostou, E., Szatmari, P., Ring, R. H., Glazer, D., Pletcher, M. T., & Scherer, S. W. (2017). Whole genome sequencing resource identifies 18 new candidate genes for autism spectrum disorder. Nat. Neurosci, 20(4), 602-611. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.4524


Cohen, I., Liu, X., Hudson, M., Gillis, J., Cavalari, R., Romanczyk, R., Karmel, B., & Gardner, J. (2016). Using the PDD Behavior Inventory as a Level 2 Screener: A Classification and Regression Trees Analysis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 3006-3022. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2843-0

Hecht, P., Hudson, M., Connors, S., Tilley, M., Liu, X., & Beversdorf, D. (2016). Maternal serotonin transporter genotype affects risk for ASD with exposure to prenatal stress. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research, 9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.1629

Tan, P., Rogic, S., Zoubarev, A., McDonald, C., Lui, F., Charathsandran, G., Jacobson, M., Belmadani, M., Leong, J., Van Rossum, T., Portales-Casamar, E., Qiao, Y., Calli, K., Liu, X., Hudson, M., Rajcan-Separovic, E., Lewis, M. E. S., & Pavlidis, P. (2016). Interactive Exploration, Analysis and Visualization of Complex Phenome-Genome Datasets with ASPIREdb. Human mutation, 37. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/humu.23011

Wang, C., Hudson, M., Liu, X., Ward, R., & Feldman, M. (2016). Parent Prediction of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Infants at Risk: A Follow-up Study. Journal of Child and Family Studies. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-016-0508-4


Feldman, M., Hendry, A., Ward, R., Hudson, M., & Liu, X. (2015). Behavioral Development and Sociodemographics of Infants and Young Children at Higher and Lower Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45, 1167-1175. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2277-5

Heidari, A., Tongsook, C., Najafipour, R., Musante, L., Vasli, N., Garshasbi, M., Hu, H., Mittal, K., McNaughton, A., Sritharan, K., Hudson, M., Stehr, H., Talebi, S., Moradi, M., Darvish, H., Rafiq, A., Mozhdehipanah, H., Rashidinejad, A., Samiei, S., & Vincent, J. (2015). Mutations in the Histamine N-Methyltransferase gene, HNMT, are Associated with Non-Syndromic Autosomal Recessive Intellectual Disability. Human Molecular Genetics, 24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddv286

Liu, Y., Li, J., Liu, X., Liu, X., Khawar, W., Zhang, X., Wang, F., Chen, X., & Sun, Z. (2015). Quantitative Risk Stratification of Oral Leukoplakia with Exfoliative Cytology. PLOS ONE, 10, e0126760. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0126760

Shi, L.-J., Jianjun, o., Gong, J.-B., Wang, S.-H., Zhou, Y., Zhu, F.-R., Liu, X., Zhao, J., & Luo, X.-R. (2015). Broad autism phenotype features of Chinese parents with autistic children and their associations with severity of social impairment in probands. BMC Psychiatry, 15, 168. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-015-0568-9

Wallace, J., Hall, G., Yin, Z., & Liu, X. (2015). Determination of Algae and Macrophyte Species Distribution in Three Wastewater Stabilization Ponds Using Metagenomics Analysis. Water, 7, 3225-3242. doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/w7073225



Melissa Hudson

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