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Mood Brain & Development Unit

Mood Brain & Development Unit - Who We Are

Principal Investigator

Argyris Stringaris, MD, PhD, MRCPsychArgyris Stringaris, MD, PhD, MRCPsych is Chief of the Mood Brain & Development Unit at the National Institute of Mental Health. He trained in Child Psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital in London (MRCPsych) where he served as Attending Physician (Consultant) of the National and Specialist Mood Disorder Team in Young People. He trained in neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London (PhD) where he was a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellow and Senior Lecturer until the summer of 2016, when he moved to the USA. He is married to Dr Kate Stringaris, née Taylor, a hematologist, and they have three daughters.

Dr Stringaris’ aim is to understand why some young people become more depressed than others and how to improve our understanding and treatment of depression. He and his team use neuroimaging, epidemiological, and genetic methods to answer these questions. His work was awarded the 2014 Klingenstein Foundation Prize by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the 2010 Research Prize from the European Psychiatric Association (EPA). His most recent book (co-authored with Eric Taylor) was published by Oxford University Press and awarded a High Commendation by the British Medical Association (2016).

As a child psychiatrist, Dr Stringaris sees and treats children and families who suffer from depression and other mood disorders.

Research Fellows

Aria VitaleAria Vitale: I am currently a first-year Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellow in Dr. Argyris Stringaris’s Mood Brain & Development Unit. I received my BA in Psychology from Georgetown University, where I completed a senior honor’s thesis under the supervision of Dr. Peter Turkeltaub that utilized lesion-symptom mapping in left-hemisphere stroke patients to investigate lateralization of auditory stimuli based on asymmetric processing in different temporal integration windows. I plan to attend medical school and pursue a clinical career in psychiatry.

Katherine MillerKatherine Miller: I work as a first-year postbaccalaureate IRTA fellow in the Mood, Brain & Development Unit, led by Dr. Stringaris. I completed my BA in Neuroscience with a minor in Biochemistry at Colorado College, where I completed an honors thesis in the Killian Developmental Neurobiology Lab on dendrite morphogenesis. I am interested in studying how mood disorders change throughout adolescence and how behavioral therapy can influence these changes. I hope to continue this research by pursuing a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology.

Liana MeffertLiana Meffert: I graduated from Emory University in May 2016 with a double major in neuroscience and creative writing. Since graduation, I have worked with Dr. Stringaris as an IRTA research fellow in the Mood Brain & Development Unit. My current research involves fMRI tasks that examine differences in reward processing in depressed adolescents. I am also interested in the translational applications of our therapies as early interventions for adolescents with mood disorders.

Ariela KaiserAriela Kaiser: I am second year postbaccalaureate IRTA fellow in the Mood Brain & Development Unit, supervised by Dr. Stringaris at NIMH. I graduated with high honors in psychology and a second major in women, gender, and sexuality studies from Washington University in St. Louis. I’m interested in how depression relates to changes in reward and emotion processing systems in the adolescent brain. I am particularly interested in how cognitive neuroscience research can be translated into clinical practice to help treat underserved youths suffering from psychopathology. I’m applying to clinical psychology PhD programs with the goal of continuing my research in adolescents with internalizing disorders.

Jamilah SilverJamilah Silver: I am in my third year of undergraduate study at Northwestern University, with majors in Human Development & Psychological Services and Psychology. My research and clinical interests include adolescent mood disorders and the effect of psychopathology and treatment on family relationships. As a summer research assistant in the Mood Brain & Development Lab, I am excited to continue developing my interests by investigating the trajectories and behavioral/neural correlates of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in adolescents, and to continue acquiring the knowledge and practical experience necessary for applying to Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology.

Kiana KhosravianKiana Khosravian: I am a first-year postbaccalaureate IRTA supervised by Dr. Argyris Stringaris. I recently graduated from Emory University with a B.S. in Biology, where I completed an honors thesis in the lab of Dr. Malu Tansey, characterizing the gut-brain connection in a novel mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. I joined the Mood Brain & Development Unit as an opportunity to gain more clinical exposure to adolescents with mood disorders. My goal is to pursue a career in medicine and I am currently in the process of applying to medical school.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Pablo Vidal-Ribas BelilPablo Vidal-Ribas Belil, MSc: I am a Predoctoral Visiting Fellow at the NIMH IRP registered as PhD student at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, UK; and supported by the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre. Before starting my PhD studies in October 2015, I trained 4 years as a Clinical Psychologist in Barcelona (Spain) while undertaking two MSc in both Child and Adolescent, and Adult psychopathology. Then, in 2012, after being awarded a prestigious Koplowitz Foundation Fellowship, I moved to London (UK) and joined Dr Argyris Stringaris’ Mood & Development Lab, and have been working together since then. I am interested in new ways of measuring and modelling emotional reactivity and its predictive value in psychopathology. To this end, I examine behavioral and neuroimaging data to understand the mechanisms that increase the risk for mood disorders in children and adolescents.

Dr. Hanna Keren, PhDDr. Hanna Keren, PhD: I started my postdoctoral research in the Mood Brain & Development lab, after an engineering background and a PhD in dynamics and control of neural networks activity patterns. My aim is to utilize these computational concepts to study the crucial question of depression mechanisms, and the general relation between brain activity patterns and our emotional state. I address these questions mainly in the context of aberrations in reinforcement learning models and temporal features of neural responses during reward processing.

Dr. Georgia O’Callaghan, PhDDr. Georgia O’Callaghan, PhD: I am a postdoc at the MBDU. I moved here from Ireland where I completed my PhD at Trinity College Dublin. During my PhD I studied risk-taking and impulsivity in drivers, using a combination of behavioural and neuroimaging techniques. I have just developed a task that will examine how much physical effort someone is willing to expend to acquire monetary rewards and am venturing into the realm of TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), which I will use to probe brain-reward networks in healthy and depressed populations.

Narun Pornpattananangkul, PhD Dr. Narun Pornpattananangkul, PhD: I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at MBDU. I was trained in Affective Neuroscience during my PhD at Northwestern University. Prior to joining NIMH, I was a research fellow at National University of Singapore, with a focus on Neuroeconomics. My research focuses on neural-cognitive mechanisms involved in reward-processing and decision-making. To this end, I have used various cognitive-neuroscience methods (e.g., M/EEG, fMRI, computational modeling and behavioral experiments). At MBDU, my aim is to examine potential changes in reward-processing and decision-making in adolescents with depression.


Chana Engel, CRNPChana Engel, CRNP: I am a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, having completed my nurse practitioner coursework at Columbia University while also gaining valuable experience as a psychiatric nurse in New York City. I spent seven years working as the first psychiatric nurse practitioner in the Section on Bipolar Spectrum Disorders here at the NIMH, before joining the Mood Brain & Development Unit. I am particularly interested in the translation of experimental therapeutic methods to clinical practice in mood and anxiety disorders.

Erin Garth, NP Erin Garth, NP: I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and completed my nurse practitioner coursework at the University of Pennsylvania, and undergraduate degree in Biology at Washington University. Prior to joining the MBDU team, I worked for 5 years at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and 8 years at Children’s National Health System providing clinical care and doing research. I have extensive experience providing care to pediatric patients with chronic medical and mental health illnesses, in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Dr. Ken Towbin, MDDr. Ken Towbin, MD: Dr. Towbin is the Chief of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Emotion and Development Branch in the Intramural Research Program at NIMH and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Towbin has been with NIMH for 17 years. Dr. Towbin has extensive and diverse experience in child and adolescent psychiatry. ‪ He has authored on the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of psychiatric disorders of children and his work at NIMH now focuses on pediatric mood disorders. Dr. Towbin is a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, in both General Psychiatry and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ Dr. Kathryn DeLonga, Psy.D.Dr. Kathryn DeLonga, PsyD is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Director of the MBDU Psychological Treatment Program. She provides direct clinical care to children, adolescents, and families and provides training and consultation to clinicians. She earned her doctorate at PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium and her undergraduate degree at Princeton University. Prior clinical settings include Stanford School of Medicine Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Denver Health Medical Center, San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and middle school, college counseling, and community-based mental health centers. Her areas of specialization include Evidence-Based Treatments for mood, anxiety and related conditions in individuals across the lifespan.