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Mood Brain & Development Unit

Mood Brain and Development Unit - Who We Are

Principal Investigator

Argyris Stringaris, MD, PhD, MRCPsych

Argyris Stringaris, MD, PhD, FRCPsych researches and treats depression and related conditions in young people. He is also Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Georgetown University. He trained in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital in London and received his PhD from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. He served as an Attending Physician (Consultant Psychiatrist) at the National and Specialist Mood Disorder Clinic at the Maudsley and was a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry. He held an advanced Wellcome Trust fellowship and his research was funded by the National Institute of Health Research and the UK Biomedical Centre. His work on mood disorders has been 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). In 2018, Dr Stringaris was awarded the National Institute of Mental Health Outstanding Mentor Award. In 2018 Dr Stringaris was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists as mark of distinction and recognition for his contributions to psychiatry. In 2019, Dr Stringaris received the 2019 Gerald L Klerman Young Investigator (under 45 years) Prize, the highest honor that the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance gives to members of the scientific community. Also, Dr Stringaris was awarded the NIH Director’s Award for “for exemplary performance while demonstrating significant leadership, skill and ability in serving as a mentor.” Dr Stringaris is President Elect (2019-2021) for the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology.

Staff Scientist

Dylan Nielson, PhDDylan Nielson, PhD: Dylan is a staff scientist in the Mood Brain & Development Unit at the National Institute of Mental Health. He has more than ten years of experience in neuroimaging and data analysis starting as a post-baccalaureate research fellow in the NIMH in 2007. He conducted research on neurostimulation, imaging analysis methods, and human memory while completing his PhD at The Ohio State University. After that, he completed a data science fellowship at The Data Incubator before a brief interlude as a mortgage fraud analyst with Freddie Mac. He returned to the NIMH as part of the Data Science and Sharing Team where he contributed to a range of open source neuroimaging tools. As part of the MBDU, Dr. Nielson is leading neuroimaging analyses in the lab and helping with the development of novel tasks and models to explore the interaction of mood and cognition.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Pablo Vidal-Ribas BelilPablo Vidal-Ribas Belil, MSc: I am a Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow at the NIMH IRP with a PhD in child and adolescent psychiatry from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, UK. Before starting my PhD, 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 we have been working together since then. I use behavioral, epidemiological and neuroimaging approaches to identify risk and protective factors of mood disorders and its consequences in young people, including depression, anxiety, irritability and suicidality.

Pablo's New Papers

Vidal-Ribas, P., Benson, B., Vitale, A., Keren, H., Harrewijn, A., Fox, N. A., Pine, D. S., Stringaris, A. (2019). Bidirectional associations between stress and reward in children and adolescents: a longitudinal neuroimaging study. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. doi:10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.05.012

Towbin, K.*, Vidal-Ribas, P.*, Brotman, M. A., Pickles, A., Miller, K. V., Kaiser, A., Vitale, A.D., Engel, C., Overman, G.P., Davis, M., Lee, B., McNeil, C., Wheeler, W., Yokum, C.H., Haring, C.T., Roule, A., Wambach, C.G., Sharif-Askary, B., Pine, D.S., Leibenluft, E., Stringaris, A. (2019). A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial of citalopram adjunctive to stimulant medication in youth with chronic severe irritability. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2019.05.015 *Jointly first author.

Dr. Hanna Keren, PhDDr. Hanna Keren, PhD: With an engineering background and a PhD in dynamics and control of neural network activity, my aim is to utilize computational-engineering concepts to better understand depression mechanisms. Towards this aim, I’m exploring the relation between environmental cues, brain activity, and emotional states. I address these questions in the context of reinforcement learning models and reward processing, and by developing a novel real-time methodology for closed-loop mood control. This control framework would enable the unique study of aberrations in neural dynamics and reward processing during mood transitions.

Dr. Georgia O’Callaghan, PhDDr. Georgia O’Callaghan, PhD: I completed my PhD at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, where I studied impulsivity and risk-taking using a combination of behavioural and neuroimaging techniques. I currently serve as the MBDU's Research Data Officer, regulating data acquisition and providing solutions to data retrieval, integration, quality, storage and management. I have taken lead on the development and maintenance of the clinical database for the team. As part of this I also manage and program our custom online data collection platform.

illustration of brain image used when no staff photo is available Dipta Saha, PhD: I am currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow at MBDU. I completed my PhD in theoretical physics at University of Florida. I worked as a postdoctoral research associate (Theoretical/Computational Neuroscience) at Brown University before joining MBDU. I also worked as a Data Scientist before joining Brown University. My current research focuses on building a model that can predict the depressive state of mind using fMRI longitudinal data.I am also interested in the theoretical modeling of human brain states to understand the different states of Mood.

Lucrezia Liuzzi, PhDLucrezia Liuzzi, PhD: I recently joined the MBDU as a postdoctoral fellow. I have a background in physics and completed my PhD at the University of Nottingham in the UK as part of the Magnetoencephalography (MEG) group. The focus of my PhD has been of functional connectivity measures in MEG data, exploring time dynamics of functional networks in whole brain analysis during rest and task, and relating neural oscillations to attention and neurochemistry. As part of the MBDU I aim to study reward processing and mood changes through a multi-modal approach incorporating M/EEG and fMRI methods.


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

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 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. 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. Learn about Dr. DeLonga’s speaking events in the community.

Beth Glicker Beth Glicker, RN. Beth has been a registered nurse for over 30 years. She has worked as a pediatric and labor and delivery nurse, and in such varied settings as camps, schools and outpatient clinics. More recently she has spent time as a public health nurse focusing on child abuse and domestic violence prevention and working with low income mothers to improve maternal and infant outcomes.

Research Fellows

Christine WeiChristine Wei: I am a current second year post-baccalaureate IRTA fellow in MBDU. I graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology, where I completed my honors thesis in the Social Cognition and Behavior Lab under Dr. Sophie Trawalter on the role of racial and gender disparities related to student experiences of belonging and safety, specifically feelings of safety on campus and attitudes toward the presence of campus police officers.  I am currently applying to medical school and plan to pursue a career possibly in psychiatry.

Katy ChangKaty Chang: I am a second-year post-baccalaureate IRTA Fellow. I graduated in the class of 2018 from Washington University in St. Louis with a major in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology. During my undergraduate career, I completed independent research in the BRAINlab under the guidance of Dr. Ryan Bogdan on the mediatory role of inflammation on the link between lifetime stressful life experiences and physical health outcomes in later life. I also completed an honors thesis with Dr. Alan Lambert on the role of threat in shifting political attitudes. I am interested in addressing psychiatric health disparities, as well as researching the effects of marginalization and stressful life experiences on health outcomes.

Kenzie JacksonKenzie Jackson: I am a second-year Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellow. I received my BS in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience from Duke University in 2018, where I completed an honors thesis under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Strauman on the role of maternal perinatal depression in child internalizing symptoms. I am interested in researching reward processing as a resilience factor for individuals with depression, and hope to continue this work as I pursue a career in medicine.

Kate HaynesKate Haynes: I am a first-year post-baccalaureate IRTA fellow in the Mood Brain and Development Unit, led by Dr. Stringaris. In 2019, I received my BA in Neuroscience and Psychology from the University of Virginia, where I completed an honors thesis on infants’ sensitivity to eye cues in the UVA Baby Lab under the advisement of Dr. Tobias Grossmann. I am interested in working with children with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges and developing more effective interventions for this population.

Chris Camp Chris Camp: I am a post-baccalaureate IRTA Fellow with the Mood, Brain, and Disorder Unit under the leadership of Dr. Argyris Stringaris. I graduated in 2019 from Duke University with a BS in Neuroscience and Minors in Spanish and Music. My research experience has involved graph theory analyses of fMRI data exploring a range of tasks and attributes including creativity, addictions, and counterfactual thinking. I completed an honors thesis my senior year investigating hippocampal integration during counterfactual thinking. I hope to apply these graph theoretical techniques to examine longitudinal changes in the brain network architecture of individuals with depression and anxiety. I plan to continue my research with a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience.

Lisa GorhamLisa Gorham: am a first year post baccalaureate IRTA fellow in Dr. Stringaris’s Mood Brain & Development Unit. I completed my BA in Cognitive Neuroscience with a minor in Global Health at Washington University in St. Louis, where I studied the relationships between hippocampal volume, involvement in sports, and depressive symptoms in preadolescent children under the direction of Dr. Deanna Barch. I am interested in using longitudinal research to identify risk factors and potential treatments for adolescent depression. In order to pursue these research questions, I hope to get an MD/PhD and go into child and adolescent psychiatry.

Stuart KirwanStuart Kirwan: I am a second year post-baccalaureate IRTA fellow in the Mood, Brain and Development Unit, led by Dr. Stringaris. I graduated from the University of Florida in 2018 receiving a Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a specialization in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. During my first year at the National Institutes of Health, I assisted with an investigation into the long-term sequelae of Anthrax, specifically focusing on the neurocognitive deficits seen in the survivors of the 2001 bioterrorism attack. I plan to attend medical school and pursue a career in psychiatry.

Previous Lab Members

Deborah Ellen Boyle Deborah Ellen Boyle, RN, MN

Narun Pornpattananangkul, PhD Narun Pornpattananangkul, PhD

Katherine MillerKatherine (Katie) Miller

Aria Vitale Aria Vitale

Kiana KhosravianKiana Khosravian

Liana Meffert Liana Meffert

Ariela Kaiser Ariela Kaiser

Jamila Silver Jamilah Silver