Genetics of violent crime

Research topics and goals

The study on genetics of violent crime. It is suspected that human aggression may be influenced by several genetic polymorphisms (e.g., DRD-2, 5-HTT, MAO), but no studies have been published concerning the genetic background of severe habitual violent behaviour such as committing several successive homicides or aggravated assaults. The aim of the project is to differentiate which genes contribute to habitual violent behaviour, psychopathy, antisocial personality and substance abuse and what is the role of early environmental factors for the phenotype. We have sequenced whole genome from 30 subjects with extreme phenotype (multiple homicide offenders), and we are currently doing GWAS and CNV  analysis from 800 index subjects using data from about 6000 subjects from the population-based Health 2000 cohort as control.

Research methods

  • Exome sequencing, GWAS, CNV analysis

Group leader

Professor Jari Tiihonen
Karolinska Institutet
Department of Clinical Neuroscience
K8, CPF, Byggnad R5:00
S-171 76 Stockholm
Tel. +358 50 341 8363
e-mail: jari.tiihonen(at)

Present positions

  • Professor, Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Professor, University of Eastern Finland, Department of Forensic Psychiatry, Kuopio, Finland

Major research interests

  • Psychiatry, psychopharmacology, functional brain imaging, autoradiography studies on dopamine and serotonin receptors and transporters in the human brain; epidemiology, genetics and neurobiology of substance dependence; violent and suicidal behavior

Previous major positions and appointments

  • Professor, University of Eastern Finland, Department of Forensic Psychiatry, Kuopio, Finland
  • Professor, University of Helsinki, Department of Psychiatry, Helsinki, Finland

Academic degrees

  • MD, PhD



  • Tiina Paunio, tiina.paunio(at)
  • Matti Virkkunen, matti.virkkunen(at)
  • Heikki Vartiainen, heikki.vartiainen(at)
  • Hannu Lauerma, hannu.lauerma(at)
  • Matti Joukamaa, matti.joukamaa(at)
  • Eila Tiihonen, eila.tiihonen(at)

Doctoral students

  • Marjo-Riitta Rautiainen, marjo-riitta.rautiainen(at)


  • Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Niuvanniemi Hospital, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Universities of Helsinki and Tampere, Prison Health Services, Finland
  • Sanger Institute, UK

Selected publications

Tiihonen J, Rautiainen M-R, Ollila HM, Repo-Tiihonen E, Virkkunen M, Palotie A, Pietiläinen O, Kristiansson K, Joukamaa M, Lauerma H, Saarela J, Tyni S, Vartiainen H, Paananen J, Goldman D, Paunio T: Genetic background of extreme violent behaviour. Mol Psychiatry 2015;20(6):786-92.