Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Director of Medical and Adult Services
Emory Autism Center
Joe Cubells, MD, PhD earned his BA at Johns Hopkins University, and his MD and PhD (Neuroscience) at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed his residency in psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, and a Readers Digest Research Fellowship at Cornell University Medical College. He joined the Psychiatry faculty at Yale and the West Haven VA Medical Center in 1995, and moved to Emory University School of Medicine in 2004.
His research interests include understanding the molecular genetics underlying variation in human serum dopamine -hydroxylase, a bio-marker derived from norepinephrine-containing neurons. While more than the first decade of his faculty career also focused on genetic association studies between single-nucleotide polymorphisms in candidate genes and psychosis, depression and other psychiatric manifestations, he lost interest in this area as emerging data from genome-wide studies showed conclusively that single-nucleotide variants are rarely, if ever, of value for understanding individual patients. His molecular-genetic interests have shifted to the role of copy number variants and other large-scale genomic differences in neuro-developmental disorders, particularly autism and schizophrenia, as such variants can provide clinically valuable information about individual patients. He is a co-investigator in the NIH-supported 22q11 Deletion Syndrome Brain-Behavior Consortium (PIs Stephen T. Warren, PhD and Raquel Gur, MD, PhD), an international collaboration examining molecular mechanisms influencing risk for schizophrenia in patients with 22q11DS. He is also a co-investigator in the Emory Conte Center on Oxytocin and Social Cognition (PI, Larry Young, PhD). He is the Principal Investigator of a Simons Foundation-supported epidemiological study examining the impact of pre-natal folic acid supplementation on risk for autism, in collaboration with the U.S. CDC, the U.S. NCI, and the China CDC.
Dr. Cubells practices psychiatry as the Director of Medical and Adult Services at the Emory Autism Center, where he runs a psychopharmacology clinic for adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and related neuro-developmental disabilities, as well as for patients with defined genetic disorders and psychiatric manifestations. Such disorders include 22q11 Deletion Syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome and Rett syndrome (all of which associate with increased risk of autism). In addition to medication-management services, the Adult Program at the Emory Autism provides social-skills training aimed at enhancing adult independence and community involvement for adults with ASD, and through the AWARE Program (led by Dr. Lauren Castriota), community education about ASD. Several residents in psychiatry have participated in elective training experiences at the Emory Autism Center under Dr. Cubells’ mentorship. The Autism Foundation of Georgia, and the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities provide essential support for the Adult Program at the Emory Autism Center.