Jamal B. Williams PhD

Jamal Williams

Jamal B. Williams

Assistant Professor

Department of Psychiatry

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Autism; Community Health Research; Epigenetics; Genome-wide Screening; Neuropsychiatric Disorders; Neuroscience; Transcriptomics

Contact Information
CTRC 875 Ellicott St
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: 716-888-4875

Professional Summary:

As an early-career investigator in the field of psychiatric genetics, my passion lies in unraveling the complex genetic underpinnings of neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly focusing on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). One of the cornerstones of my research is the exploration of ancestral genetics and its profound impact on our understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders.

The African genome displays remarkable diversity, encompassing a wide range of genetic variations that significantly influence not only individual characteristics but also the predisposition to complex disorders such as ADHD. As a result, it is crucial for our research to incorporate ancestrally diverse genetic data, particularly from individuals of African descent, to unravel population-specific genetic risk factors. By adopting this inclusive approach, we can uncover rare genetic variations and risk factors that often go unnoticed in studies primarily focused on European populations.

On the other hand, single-cell transcriptomic analysis offers an approach to investigate individual cells at the molecular transcriptional level, providing unprecedented resolution into the diversity and heterogeneity within the brain's cellular landscape. By examining gene expression profiles of individual cells, we can discern unique cell types, their specific functions, and how they interact in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders. This level of granularity enables us to identify previously unknown cell subtypes that may be implicated in ADHD pathogenesis.

Additionally, through the integration of single-cell transcriptomic and large-scale genetic studies, we aim to elucidate how specific genetic variations in populations of African ancestry influence gene expression profiles within distinct cell types. This inclusive approach empowers us to decipher the molecular intricacies of ADHD and ASD within a broader genetic context and capture the complexity of these disorders across diverse populations.

Moreover, my research is devoted to understanding the interplay between genetics, environment, and culture in contributing to the manifestations of neurodevelopmental disorders. By collaborating with organizations and researchers, I actively engage to recruit participants of African descent, ensuring cultural appropriateness and respect throughout the study design and analysis. This community engagement is essential to establishing a research framework that genuinely reflects the experiences and perspectives of those affected by these disorders.

I am also a dedicated member of several academic and community health committees, working to contribute to the discussion and implementation of strategies that aim to reduce health disparities. I am inspired by the potential to make a real impact on the lives of individuals and families affected by these disorders. I am determined to advance our understanding of the genetics and epigenetics of psychiatric disorders and ultimately improve the lives of those affected, through the use of advanced technologies, inclusive research, and community engagement.

Education and Training:

  • Fellowship, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) (2023)
  • PhD, Neuroscience, University at Buffalo: Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2022)
  • MA, Biology ABD, Buffalo State College (2017)
  • BS, Biology, D'Youville University (2015)
  • BS, Mathematics, D'Youville University (2015)


  • Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, University at Buffalo: Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2023-present)

Awards and Honors:

  • Dean's Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research (2022)
  • Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creativity Award (2021)
  • Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honors Society (2021)
  • Sigma Xi Companions in Zealous Research Award (2021)
  • Celebration of Student Academic Excellence Awardee (2021)
  • SUNY GREAT Awardee (2021)
  • NIH D-SPAN Blueprint F99/K00 Award (2020)
  • Celebration of Student Academic Excellence Awardee (2020)
  • UB Excellence for Promoting Inclusion and Cultural Diversity (2020)
  • Beverly Patterson Bishop and Charles W. Bishop Neuroscience Award (2019)
  • Institute for Strategic Enhancement of Educational Diversity (iSEED) Fellowship (2017)
  • Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship (2017)
  • Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biomedical Sciences (CLIMB) Fellowship (2017)

Research Expertise:

  • Epigenetic and Transcriptomic analysis in models of neurodevelopmental disorders: Using multi-omic analysis to investigate dynamic changes in gene expression that lead to the breakdown in biological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders
  • Polygenic Risk Analysis: Creating inclusive polygenic risk models that incorporate ancestrally diverse and admixed genetic data, to predict continuous and binary traits related to neurodevelopment, sociability, and psychiatric disease outcome.
  • Psychiatric Genetics: Utilization of complex genetic data, especially in those of ancestrally diverse backgrounds to infer genetic risk for psychiatric disorders.

Research Centers:

  • Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC)

UB 2020 Strategic Strengths:

  • Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics

Journal Articles:

See all (3 more)


  • "The Importance of Diversity in Psychiatric Genetic Research" Connecticut Children’s Hospital genetics seminar (2023)
  • "The Importance of Diversity in Psychiatric Genetic Research -Enhancing the involvement of African Americans and minoritized groups – A Collaborative Approach" 18th Annual Comprehensive Review of Psychiatry Conference (2023)
  • "The Importance of Diversity in Psychiatric Genetic Research -Enhancing the involvement of African Americans and minoritized groups" JSMBS MD-PhD Seminar (2023)
  • "Demonstrating the Need for Ancestrally Diverse Data in Genetic Autism Research" GEM Seminar (2023)
  • "Why Diversity Matters in Neuropsychiatric Genetics" Buffalo State University Biology Seminar Series (2023)
  • "Why Diversity in Psychiatric Genetics Actually Matters" Guest Speaker for COM MLK Commemoration event Jan. 10-12, 2023 (2023)
  • "Forging MINDSET, HABITS and Ideas towards career success" University of Technology, Jamaica

Service Activities:

  • Community Health Speaks -The "Learning About Your Genome" series was a comprehensive program aimed at educating individuals about the intricacies of genetics. It covered topics such as the basics of genetics, genetic variations' role in health and disease, and the significance of ancestry in genetic testing. Special sessions were included to help participants identify and combat scientific misinformation and to discuss the nuanced differences between race and ancestry in the context of health. This series empowered participants to make informed decisions regarding their genetic health and understand the ethical considerations surrounding genetic testing.; Workshop Facilitator (2023–present)
  • https://www.buffalo.edu/ubnow/stories/2023/10/igniting-hope-recap.html Igniting Hope 2023 Conference -The afternoon keynote topic delved into issues at the core of medical research, such as informed consent and medical mistrust. Moderated by Jamal Williams, assistant professor of psychiatry in the Jacobs School, the session featured David Lacks and Veronica Robinson, the grandson and great granddaughter, respectively, of Henrietta Lacks.; Interviewer (2023)

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Contact Information

CTRC 875 Ellicott St
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: 716-888-4875