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Mood Brain & Development Unit

Mood Brain and Development Unit - Who We Are

Principal Investigator

Argyris Stringaris, MD, PhD, MRCPsychArgyris Stringaris, MD, PhD, FRCPsych 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 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). In 2018 he won the NIMH IRP Outstanding Mentor Award intended to recognize outstanding mentorship by an NIMH investigator. In 2018, he was also elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists as a mark of distinction and recognition of contributions to psychiatry.

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

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: 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 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.

Visiting Scholars

Panagiota (Neny) Pervanidou, MD, Ph.D. Panagiota (Neny) Pervanidou, MD, Ph.D. is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar in the Mood, Brain and Development Unit. Dr Pervanidou is Assistant Professor of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA), School of Medicine, and Head of the Unit of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics in the First Department of Pediatrics, NKUA, “Aghia Sophia” Children’s Hospital, Athens, Greece ( She is a Developmental Pediatrician, trained in the First Department of Pediatrics, NKUA, “Aghia Sophia” Children’s Hospital, Athens and she has a Medical Doctorate in the Neuroendocrinology of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in children and adolescents from the same University. Clinical and research interests include; Neuroendocrinology of Stress, Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, PTSD, Eating Problems and their behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms. Dr. Pervanidou founded the “Laboratory of Developmental Psychophysiology and Stress Research” ( in the University of Athens and she aims to build collaborative projects with MBDU on stress and reward in children with neurodevelopmental and mood disorders.


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.

Deborah Ellen Boyle Deborah Ellen Boyle, RN, MN. I am a Master’s-prepared research nurse. I completed my graduate nursing coursework in biopsychosocial nursing at The University of Washington in Seattle. I worked as a Nurse Practitioner for Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Outpatient Clinic in Bellevue, WA providing care and doing research. I’ve also worked as a health care researcher at the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women on the Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD’s Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. I have been working for six years at the NIH as a clinical research nurse providing mental health clinical care for children and adolescents. Most recently I joined the Mood Brain & Development Unit in the Emotion Development Branch of NIMH as a research nurse.

Research Fellows

Aria Vitale Aria Vitale: I am a second-year Postbaccalaureate IRTA Fellow in Dr. Argyris Stringaris’s Mood Brain & Development Unit. I received my BA in Psychology from Georgetown University in 2017, where I completed a senior honor’s thesis under the supervision of Dr. Peter Turkeltaub that utilized lesion-symptom mapping in stroke patients to investigate hemispheric lateralization of auditory stimuli. I am currently applying to medical schools and plan to pursue a career in psychiatry.

Christine WeiChristine Wei: I am a current Post-baccalaureate IRTA Fellow in Dr. Stringaris’ Mood Brain & Development Unit at the NIMH. I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2017 with honors in psychology, where I completed my thesis on the role of race and gender on U.Va students’ feelings of safety and attitudes towards campus safety precautions, specifically the presence of campus police officers. I plan on attending medical school, and possibly pursuing psychiatry or endocrinology

Katherine MillerKatherine (Katie) Miller: I work as a second-year post-baccalaureate 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 the etiology of mood disorders during key times of transition, with particular interest in using this knowledge to develop more effective and accessible interventions. I hope to continue this research by pursuing a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology.

Katy Chang Katy Chang: I am a first-year post-baccalaureate IRTA Fellow in the MBDU Unit. 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 the effects of chronic stress on physical and psychological well-being, particularly with regards to the etiology of psychopathologies. I hope to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology to further pursue my research and clinical interests.”

Kenzie Jackson Kenzie Jackson: I am a first-year Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellow in Dr. Argyris Stringaris’s Mood Brain & Development Unit. I received my BS in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience from Duke University, where I completed an honors thesis under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Strauman on the role of perinatal depression in future child internalizing symptoms. I am interested in researching reward processing as a resilience factor in individuals with depression and hope to continue this research by pursuing a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology.

Kiana KhosravianKiana Khosravian: I am a second year postbaccalaureate IRTA supervised by Dr. Argyris Stringaris. I graduated from Emory University in May 2017 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 current research involves fMRI tasks that examine differences in reward processing in depressed adolescents. I have also been trained in transcranial magnetic stimulation and will soon be working on a project implementing the technique. My goal is to pursue a career in medicine and I am currently in the process of applying to medical school.

Previous Lab Members

Liana Meffert Liana Meffert

Ariela Kaiser Ariela Kaiser

Jamila Silver Jamilah Silver