Photo of Betsy M. Ferguson, Ph.D.

Betsy M. Ferguson Ph.D.

  •      (503) 346-5566
    • Professor Oregon National Primate Research Center
    • Associate Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics School of Medicine
    • Director, ONPRC Japanese Macaque Resource
    • Director, ONPRC Primate Genetics Core Services
    • Molecular and Medical Genetics Graduate Program School of Medicine
    • Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences School of Medicine

Betsy Ferguson, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Divisions of Genetics and Neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, and in the Dept of Molecular and Medical Genetics at OHSU. 

She uses genetic, epigenetic and genomic approaches to understand how risk for neurological diseases are established. She makes use of the similarity of genomes and diseases in both humans and monkeys to uncover  genes and mechanisms that influence disease risk.

Dr. Ferguson believes that by finding the underlying genetic or epigenetic mechanisms, we will be able to develop more effective treatments for neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Ferguson joined OHSU in 1995.

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Areas of interest

  • Epigenetics
  • Addiction Biology
  • Genomics
  • Rare Genetic Disease


  • B.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst 1981
  • Ph.D., University of Washington 1990
  • Internship:

    • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University, 1991-1993
  • Fellowship:

    • Postdoctoral Fellow: Stanford University, 1991-1993

Honors and awards

  • Life Science Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, 1991

Memberships and associations

  • American Society of Human Genetics, 1998-
  • Research Society on Alcoholism, 2008-


Selected publications

  • Cervera-Juanes, R., Wilhelm, L, Park, B, Lee, R, Locke, J, Gonzales, S, Wand, G, Jones, SR, Grant, KA and Ferguson, B. (2016) MAOA expression predicts vulnerability for alcohol use. Mol Psychiatry. (4):472-9. PMID: 26148813; PMC4705001.

  • Bimber, B.N., Raboin, M.J., Letaw, J., Nevonen, K.A., Spindel, J.E., McCouch, S.R., Cervera-Juanes, R., Spindel, E., Carbone, L., Ferguson, B., and Vinson, A. (2016) Whole genome characterization in pedigreed non-human primates using genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) and imputation.  BMC Genomics 17:676. PMID:27558348; PMC4997765

  • Cervera-Juanes, R., Wilhelm, L, Park, B, Grant, KA and Ferguson, B. (2017) Alcohol-dose-dependent DNA methylation and expression in the nucleus accumbens identifies coordinated regulation of synaptic genes. Transl Psychiatry. 2017 Jan 10;7(1):e994. PMID: 28072409;  PMC5545731

  • Cuzon Carlson V. C., Ford M. M., Carlson T.L., Lomniczi A., Grant K.A., Ferguson B., Cervera-Juanes R.P. (2019) Modulation of Gpr39, a G-protein coupled receptor associated with alcohol use in nonhuman primates, curbs ethanol intake in mice. Neuropsychopharm.  2019 May;44(6):1103- 1113. doi: 10.1038/s41386-018-0308-1. Epub 2019 Jan 5. PMID: 30610192;  PMC6461847

  • Bimber, B.N., Yan, M.Y., Peterson, S.M., Ferguson, B. (2019) mGAP: the macaque genotype and phenotype resource, a framework for accessing and interpreting macaque variant data, and identifying new models of human disease. BMC Genomics. 2019 Mar 6:20(1):176. doi: 10.1186/s12864-019-5559-7. PMID: 30841849; PMC6402181


  • "Variable prevalence and functional diversity of the antiretroviral restriction factor TRIMCyp in Macaca fascicularis" Journal of Virology October 2011
  • "A single-nucleotide polymorphism in the EAP1 gene is associated with amenorrhea/oligomenorrhea in nonhuman primates" Endocrinology January 2012
  • "Genetic load is associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation in macaques" Genes, Brain and Behavior  2012
  • "A position effect on the time of replication origin activation in yeast" Cell January 24 1992
  • "Mutations within a furin consensus sequence block proteolytic release of ectodysplasin-A and cause X-linked hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America June 19 2001
  • "Microsatellite markers for standardized genetic management of captive colonies of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)" American Journal of Primatology January 2006
  • "Rhesus monkeys and humans share common susceptibility genes for age-related macular disease" Human Molecular Genetics  2008
  • "Temporal control of DNA replication in yeast" Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology  1991
  • "An effort to use human-based exome capture methods to analyze chimpanzee and macaque exomes" PLoS One July 27 2012
  • "Drinking to Dependence Risk Factors in Nonhuman Primates"  February 2014
  • "Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are highly conserved in rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and cynomolgus (Macaca fascicularis) macaques" BMC Genomics December 31 2007
  • "Mutations in the human homologue of mouse dl cause autosomal recessive and dominant hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia" Nature Genetics August 1999
  • "Mitochondrial DNA deletions and differential mitochondrial DNA content in Rhesus monkeys" Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease February 2012
  • "Edar/Eda interactions regulate enamel knot formation in tooth morphogenesis" Development (Cambridge)  2000
  • "Deficient natural killer cell cytotoxicity in patients with IKK-γ/NEMO mutations" Journal of Clinical Investigation  2002
  • "Erratum" American Journal of Primatology May 2006
  • "Resource brief" ImmunoMethods September 2009
  • "Genome typing of nonhuman primate models" Trends in Genetics  2014
  • "Multiple determinants controlling activation of yeast replication origins late in S phase" Genes and Development  1996
  • "A novel X-linked disorder of immune deficiency and hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia is allelic to incontinentia pigmenti and due to mutations in IKK-gamma (NEMO)" American Journal of Human Genetics  2000
  • "The yeast pheromone response pathway" Cellular and Molecular Biology Research  1994
  • "MonkeySNP" Bioinformatics November 2008
  • "Identification of MHC class I sequences in Chinese-origin rhesus macaques" Immunogenetics January 2008
  • "The value of extended pedigrees for next-generation analysis of complex disease in the rhesus macaque" ILAR Journal November 2013
  • "Who is at risk?" Alcohol research : current reviews  2009
  • "Mutation of RGA1, which encodes a putative GTPase-activating protein for the polarity - Establishment protein Cdc42p, activates the pheromone-response pathway in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae" Genes and Development December 1 1995
  • "Heterozygous embryonic stem cell lines derived from nonhuman primate parthenotes" Stem Cells March 2008
  • "An empirical comparison of short tandem repeats (STRs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for relatedness estimation in Chinese rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)" American Journal of Primatology  2014
  • "Signal transduction and growth control in yeast" Current Opinion in Genetics and Development  1995
  • "X-linked anhidrotic (hypohidrotic) ectodermal dysplasia is caused by mutation in a novel transmembrane protein" Nature Genetics August 1996

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