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Ruth Ottman

Faculty Affiliate, Bioethics; Professor of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health; Deputy Director for Research, Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center

Dr. Ruth Ottman's research addresses the role of inherited factors in susceptibility to neurologic disorders, primarily focusing on seizure disorders. Her work on epilepsy has included assessment of familial aggregation, phenotype definition, linkage analysis and gene identification. She is currently conducting three different studies of the genetic epidemiology of epilepsy. Dr. Ottman and her colleagues were the first to recognize a syndrome of temporal lobe epilepsy known as autosomal dominant partial epilepsy with auditory symptoms (ADPEAF), and to identify a gene, LGI1, with causative mutations in approximately half of affected families.

Ottman developed and teaches a doctoral level course in genetic epidemiology, and co-founded the Columbia University Seminar on Genetic Epidemiology, a forum for discussion of issues of interest to genetic epidemiologists throughout the New York area, which has been active since 1982. She is the biological sciences core leader for the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program, and the pre-doctoral training director of the Genetics of Complex Diseases Training Program, both at the Mailman School of Public Health.


  • B.A., University of California, Berkeley
  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley