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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 is a Senior Investigator at NIMH who 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

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 availableDipta 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.

Clinicians

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 GarthErin 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.

Mollie Davis, MSW, LCSW-CMollie Davis, MSW, LCSW-C: Mollie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Staff Clinician with the MBDU. She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work, with a specialization in clinical care and mental health, from the University of Maryland at Baltimore. Mollie has considerable expertise in the assessment of mood disorders and in research measures of mood and anxiety disorders. She has a deep experience with clinical care in the context of research. Mollie has been with NIMH for ten years, and prior to joining the MBDU performed diagnostic assessments and tracked the course of children and adolescents with chronic, impairing irritability. Her recent work has been in implementing novel applications of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in this population. Mollie’s experience prior to coming to NIMH includes responsibility for the clinical care of adolescents in a long-term psychiatric residential treatment unit, providing psychotherapy to active duty personnel at the Pentagon, and facilitating international adoptions.

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 CampChris 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: I 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.

Volunteers

Ioanna Douka, MDaIoanna Douka, MD: I am a special volunteer in Dr. Stringaris’s Mood Brain & Development Unit. I am a medical graduate from the School of Health Sciences of the University of Patras, which is located in Greece, and I have completed Step 1 of the USMLE. I have also completed a clinical rotation in Psychiatry at the Episcopal Hospital of Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. My current project at the NIMH is about the development of a new screening method of measuring anhedonia. My long-term plan is to become a Psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of children and adolescents.

Previous Lab Members

Picture of doctor Pablo Vidal-RibasPablo Vidal-Ribas Belil, PhD: 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.

Beth GlickerBeth 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

Narun Pornpattananangkul, PhD Narun Pornpattananangkul, PhD: I was 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.

Katherine MillerKatherine (Katie) Miller: I was a 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 a particular interest in using this knowledge to develop more effective and accessible interventions. Katie currently works in Denver, Colorado.

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 attending Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Panagiota (Neny) Pervanidou, MD, Ph.D.Panagiota (Neny) Pervanidou, MD, Ph.D was 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 (www.dbpeds.gr). 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” (dbpeds-lab.med.uoa.gr) 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.

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 attending George Washington University.

Liana Meffert Liana Meffert: I was a 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 and 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 attending medical school.

Ariela Kaiser Ariela 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 currently attending Northwestern’s clinical psychology PhD program with the goal of continuing my research in adolescents with internalizing disorders.

Jamila Silver Jamilah Silver: I graduated from 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. I am currently attending Stony Brook for a PhD in Clinical Psychology.