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Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience (SDAN)

Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience: Meet the Team

Dr. Daniel Pine, MD

Dr. Daniel Pine, MD (he/him/his)

Dr. Pine moved to the NIH in 2000, after 10 years of training, teaching, and research at Columbia University. Since graduating from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Dr. Pine has been engaged continuously in research on pediatric mental disorders, as reflected in more than 600 peer-reviewed papers. Currently, his group examines the degree to which pediatric mood and anxiety disorders are associated with perturbed neural circuitry function. This work is designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. Dr. Pine entered medical school with the goal of becoming a pediatrician, and he has been devoted to improving children’s lives through health-related research for most of his life. He particularly enjoys working in multi-disciplinary teams where many members work together with children and their families. He is the former President of the Society of Biological Psychiatry, Chair of the FDA Psychopharmacology Advisory Committee, a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and an NIH Distinguished Investigator.

Current lab members

Current SDAN lab members in a virtual meeting. From left to right, first row: Lucrezia Liuzzi, Ph.D., Anjali Poe, Sam Frank, David Quezada, Sara Kirschner, Meghan Byrne, Ph.D. Second row: Song Qi, Ph.D., Daniel Pine, M.D., Ellie Malone, Purnima Qamar. Third row: André Zugman, M.D., Ph.D.), Parmis Khosravi, Ph.D., Simona Haller, Ph.D., Krystal Lewis, Ph.D. Fourth row: Erin Berman, Ph.D., Yannie Darin Lee, Safa Rahman, Brenda Benson, Ph.D.

Read more about our current members below.

Staff Clinicians

Mollie Davis, MSW, LCSW-C

Mollie Davis, MSW, LCSW-C (she/her/hers) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Staff Clinician in the Emotion and Development Branch (EDB) in NIMH. 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 and her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Mollie has worked in EDB since 2010, conducting diagnostic assessments of children and adolescents with mood and anxiety disorders, administering clinical research measures, and delivering evidence-based inpatient and outpatient psychotherapy. Mollie’s experience prior to coming to NIMH includes supervising the clinical care of adolescents in a long-term psychiatric residential treatment unit, providing psychotherapy to active-duty personnel in the Department of Defense, and facilitating international adoptions. She enjoys working in a research setting, where she feels privileged to treat and support adolescents and their families who come to NIH to advance the treatment and understanding of these disorders.

Chana Engel, CRNP

Chana Engel, CRNP (she/her/hers) is a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner who completed her BS/MS in nursing with a focus on Child, Adolescent, and Family Mental Health at Columbia University and her undergraduate degree in Studies in Neuroscience, from Boston University. Chana has worked within the Emotion and Development Branch (EDB) of the NIMH since 2010. Her work in the Branch has included screening and diagnostic assessments of children and adolescents, coordinating and conducting inpatient and outpatient research treatment for patients and families, facilitating clinical training across the Branch, and mentoring research assistants. She has diverse expertise in pediatric mental health, particularly in bipolar spectrum disorders, depression, anxiety, chronic irritability, developmental disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Her research interests include identifying treatment mechanisms and novel treatments for depression and anxiety in youth.

Lisa M. Cullins, MD

Lisa M. Cullins, MD (she/her/hers)

Dr. Lisa M. Cullins is an Attending Physician in the Emotion and Development Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD.

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Lisa M. Cullins is an Attending Physician in the Emotion and Development Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Cullins is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. Dr. Cullins completed her Adult Psychiatry Residency at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute in Los Angeles, CA and her Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, NY. Dr. Cullins has devoted most of her career to training and education, community psychiatry and systems of care, in particular, working with children and adolescents in the child welfare system and other underserved populations. Dr. Cullins has had the privilege of being a physician leader and clinician educator in multiple treatment settings ranging from research, academic, tertiary care hospital facilities to one of the largest child community mental health providers in California. Throughout her career, Dr. Cullins has been a staunch advocate for quality and access to care for children and families and has been an active participant in American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).

Research Interests

Dr. Cullins is an Associate Investigator in the Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience, Section on Mood Dysregulation and Neuroscience and the Neuroscience and Novel Therapeutics Unit. Dr. Cullins respectively studies children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, irritability, and severe mood dysregulation. Dr. Cullins has a special interest in health equity and justice.


Faculty development for Teaching Faculty in Psychiatry: Where We Are and What We Need . De Golia SG, Cagande CC, Ahn MS, Cullins LM, Walaszek A, Cowley DS. (2019) Acad Psychiatry. PMID: 29626292

Depression in African American and Black Caribbean Youth and the Intersection of Spirituality and Religion . Cullins L, Solages M, McKnight S. (2019) Child and Adolesc Clinics of North Am. PMID: 31076121

Depression in Latino and Immigrant Refugee Youth: Clinical Opportunities and Considerations . Fortuna L, Concepcion M, Cullins L. (2019) Child and Adolesc Clinics of North Am. PMID: 31076122

Textbook of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (3rd Ed.) Mina Dulcan (Pub) American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. Washington DC 2021

Cultural Psychiatry With Children, Adolescents and Families (Pub) American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. Washington DC 2021

Erin Berman

Erin D. Berman, PhD (she/her/hers) Dr. Erin D. Berman is a Clinical Psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. She received her clinical psychology doctoral degree from Rosalind Franklin University / The Chicago Medical School. Her clinical training continued with attending the Boston Consortium of Clinical Psychology where she was a Harvard Medical School Fellowship recipient. She completed post-doctoral re-specialization in child and adolescent Anxiety Disorders at Temple University. Her main area of interest continues to be in cognitive behavioral interventions for children, adolescents, and adults with anxiety disorders.

Krystal M. Lewis

Krystal M. Lewis, PhD (she/her/hers) Dr. Krystal Lewis is a licensed clinical psychologist within SDAN. She has extensive training and experience in pediatric anxiety. She provides evidence-based treatments and preventative interventions to youth and families and collaborates with schools to promote youth mental wellness. Her research interests include self-efficacy and identifying treatment mechanisms of cognitive behavioral therapy with youth. Dr. Lewis is an active member with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

Top view of a drawing of a brain

Chantal Gerrard, MS, RN (she/her/hers) Chantal is a Senior Clinical Research Nurse/Clinician working with SDAN at the NIH. She received her Masters of Science Degree from UMB and has expertise in clinical assessments of mood disorders and various research data measures for adult and pediatric populations. She has experience as a Case Manager, Utilization Reviewer and HIV Counselor. She is a member of the Nursing Informatics Committee and Global Health Interest Group. Chantal has worked for the NHS and managed community projects in the U.K. Belize and Zambia. She is interested in health care disparities and improving global health care through quality scientific research, education, improved informatics and vital communication and collaborations.

Lucy Justement

Lucy Justement, MA, RN, P (she/her/hers) Lucy Justement is the Clinical Manager of the NIH Clinical Center Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic. She supervises the Clinical Research Nurses assigned to the clinic and works with the team to provide excellent care for the research participants. As a Clinical Research Nurse she supports patient care as a primary nurse, study coordinator, and screening and intake coordinator.

Kenneth Towbin, MD

Kenneth Towbin, MD (He/Him/His)

Kenneth E. Towbin, MD, is Chief of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (CAP) in the Emotion and Development Branch in the Intramural Research Program (IRP) at NIMH.

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Kenneth E. Towbin, MD, is Chief of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (CAP) in the Emotion and Development Branch in the Intramural Research Program (IRP) at NIMH. He is a Senior Research Physician at NIH, where he has worked since 2001, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at The George Washington University School of Medicine (GWUSM).

Dr. Towbin completed residency in general psychiatry at Yale Medical School and CAP fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center (YCSC). He completed research fellowship at Yale under James Leckman and was Associate Training Director at YCSC. In 1993, he became Training Director in CAP at Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC, and was Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics at GWUSM.

Dr. Towbin has studied and authored on children's psychiatric disorders, including Tourette Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Mood and Anxiety Disorders. He is currently working with Dr. Pine on treatment-resistant major depression in teens. ‬

He is a past Editorial Board member of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He has also been an advisor to the US FDA and past Chair of the Pediatric Advisory Committee to the FDA. ‬‬‬‬‬‬ Along with Dr. Pablo Vidal Ribas, he is the recipient of the 2020 Schlosser Award from AACAP.

Dr. Towbin is a Distinguished Fellow of the AACAP and a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, in both General Psychiatry and in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Research Interests

Throughout his career, Dr. Towbin has maintained a major interest in serious psychopathology affecting children, exploring conditions such as Tourette Disorder, psychosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), pediatric mood disorders, and depression in adolescents. His particular expertise has been in balancing clinical and research demands in an academic setting. Specifically, he has deep experience and takes enjoyment in the assessment and treatment of serious psychiatric disorders in children and youth. Moreover, Dr. Towbin is particularly interested in diagnostic boundaries and the application of diagnostic criteria to complex clinical presentations and comorbidities. As an outgrowth of that interest, he has developed expertise in psychiatric nosology and its impact on clinical care. He has a long-held interest in the role of early neurodevelopmental problems on the expression of later psychopathology. Also, the extension of his work, along with others, has been to explore more effective treatments in clinical trials to benefit children with chronic irritability and teens with major depression. Finally, he has both considerable experience and an abiding interest in training and in ethical dilemmas that arise during pediatric and psychiatric care of children.

Selected Publications

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Computerized Interpretation Bias Training for Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder: A Fast-Fail Study . Haller SP, Stoddard J, Botz-Zapp C, Clayton M, MacGillivray C, Perhamus G, Stiles K, Kircanski K, Penton-Voak IS, Bar-Haim Y, Munafò M, Towbin KE, Brotman MA. (2022) J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. PMID: 34147585

Clinical utility of family history of depression for prognosis of adolescent depression severity and duration assessed with predictive modeling . Gorham LS, Sadeghi N, Eisner L, Taigman J, Haynes K, Qi K, Camp CC, Fors P, Rodriguez D, McGuire J, Garth E, Engel C, Davis M, Towbin K, Stringaris A, Nielson DM. (2021) J Child Psychol Psychiatry. PMID: 34847615

A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of Citalopram Adjunctive to Stimulant Medication in Youth With Chronic Severe Irritability . Towbin K, Vidal-Ribas P, Brotman MA, Pickles A, Miller KV, Kaiser A, Vitale AD, Engel C, Overman GP, Davis M, Lee B, McNeil C, Wheeler W, Yokum CH, Haring CT, Roule A, Wambach CG, Sharif-Askary B, Pine DS, Leibenluft E, Stringaris A. (2020) J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. PMID: 31128268

The Clinician Affective Reactivity Index: Validity and Reliability of a Clinician-Rated Assessment of Irritability . Haller SP, Kircanski K, Stringaris A, Clayton M, Bui H, Agorsor C, Cardenas SI, Towbin KE, Pine DS, Leibenluft E, Brotman MA. (2020) Behav Ther. PMID: 32138938

Differentiating bipolar disorder-not otherwise specified and severe mood dysregulation . Towbin K, Axelson D, Leibenluft E, Birmaher B. (2013) J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. PMID: 23622848

Staff Scientists

Brenda Benson

Brenda Benson, PhD

Top view of a drawing of a brain

Anderson Winkler

Postdoctoral Fellows

Parmis Khosravi, PhD

Parmis Khosravi, PhD (she/her/hers) Parmis received her doctorate in applied experimental and cognitive sciences from The Catholic University of America in 2021. Her main research interest is exploring neural circuits that explain the heterogeneities of affective disorders such as anxiety disorders.

Song Qi, PhD

Song Qi, PhD (he/him/his) Song joined SDAN at NIMH as a research fellow in 2021. He earned his Ph.D. in Social and Decision Neuroscience from Caltech, where he studied neural mechanisms underlying fear and anxiety. With a background in engineering and information science, Song is broadly interested in human cognition and decision-making. ​​In particular, he explores how decision-making behaviors are optimized under threat/social influence with ecologically inspired paradigms, BOLD fMRI, and computational modeling. Outside of research, he enjoys reading history and building Gunpla models.

Meghan Byrne, PhD

Meghan Byrne, PhD (she/her/hers) Meghan Byrne received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Uniformed Services University in 2022 after completing her clinical internship at Harvard Medical School/Boston Children's Hospital. Her research to date has primarily focused on the neural underpinnings of anxiety and neuropsychological facets of executive functioning as it relates to disordered eating behaviors among youth.

André Zugman

André Zugman, MD, PhD (he/him/his) André is a post-doc visiting fellow working at SDAN since December, 2019. He graduated in medicine and completed his psychiatry training in Brazil. His main research interest is in using neuroimaging measures to understand why some people develop a mental health problem whereas others do not.

Computational Analyst

Kyunghun Lee

Kyunghun Lee, PhD (he/him/his) Kyunghun Lee, PhD is a scientist in the Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience (SDAN) at the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Lee researched machine learning, software/hardware optimization, and automatic detection and classification system development while completing his PhD at the University of Maryland. Dr. Lee worked as a postdoctoral fellow (Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and focused on leveraging machine learning and computational modeling to understand the relationship between brain and behavior, leading to novel therapeutic concepts for brain disorders and brain-inspired A.I. Now, as part of the SDAN, Dr. Lee is working on computational analysis and software design in the lab and helping SDAN researchers in every phase of the automated software workflow to use neuroscience to identify treatment targets. Also, Dr. Lee is working on software/algorithm development based on real-time information from wearable devices.

Postbaccalaureate Fellows

Yannie Darin Lee portrait photo

Yannie Darin Lee, B.A. (she/her/hers) Yannie received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her honors thesis focused on the role of experiential avoidance in social anxiety symptom trajectories among unemployed adults. Her primary interests lie in identifying psychobiological risk, maintenance, and protective factors associated with depression and anxiety, with a focus on positive affect, reward processes, and avoidance. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, with the ultimate goal of informing novel evidence-based interventions and optimizing treatment outcomes across the lifespan.

Ellie Malone B.A. headshot

Ellie Malone, BA (she/her/hers) Ellie graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Psychology and Public Health. Her honors thesis studied gender differences in spatial reasoning anxiety, with the aim of mitigating educational performance differences. Prior to her work at the NIMH, Ellie served as the research coordinator in the Lab for Relational Cognition at Georgetown, facilitating novel classroom interventions to enhance learning and cognition in high school students. Ellie is fascinated by the brain and emotional development, with particular interest in depression and suicide studies. When she is not in the lab, Ellie enjoys live music and spending time outdoors.

Caroline Miller B.A. headshot

Caroline Miller, BA (she/her/hers) Caroline graduated from the University of Chicago with degrees in neuroscience and psychology. Her prior research focused on molecular markers of neuron regeneration in Octopus bimaculoides. Caroline now studies pediatric irritability and adolescent depression within EDB, and plans to pursue a doctorate degree in clinical psychology.

Safa Rahman B.S. headshot

Safa Rahman, BS (she/her/hers) Safa graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a degree in Psychobiology and a minor in Global Health. She did her honors thesis on the effects of racial discrimination in childhood on habitual behavior. Currently, she is studying how shifts in sexual attraction can affect depressive symptom severity in adolescents with major depressive disorder. She plans to pursue a doctorate degree in clinical psychology and work with historically marginalized populations.

Purnima Qamar B.S. Headshot

Purnima Qamar, BS (she/her/hers) Before joining the group, Purnima graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a degree in Psychology. Her prior research focused on the unique impacts of elicited state and trait anxiety symptoms on neural functional connectivity in minoritized children. She is interested in neural identifiers of threat biases in pediatric samples with anxiety, especially among ethnically diverse youth, and discovering how such work can inform clinical interventions. Following her time at SDAN, Purnima aims to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

Anjali Poe

Anjali Poe, BA (she/her/hers) Anjali graduated from Williams College in 2022 with a degree in Psychology and Biology. Her honors thesis focused on the predictive effects of the cortisol awakening response and acute interpersonal stress on depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following her time in SDAN, she plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology. In her free time, Anjali enjoys running, being with friends, and practicing yoga.

David Quezada

David Quezada, BA (he/him/his) David graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) earning a BA in psychology. At USC he discovered a passion for psychological research investigating strategies to improve medication adherence among adolescents with chronic health conditions as well as the psychological impacts of racial discrimination. During his time at SDAN, David hopes to gain valuable clinical and research experiences that will prepare him for a career as a physician.

Sam Frank

Sam Frank, AB (he/him/his) Before joining the group, Sam graduated from Princeton University where he studied Molecular Biology and Computer Science. His prior research focused on understanding the connectivity of neural circuits in the cerebellum and developing computational tools to analyze large neuro imaging datasets. He is interested in helping people who struggle with mental health through basic science, medicine, and policy. After his time at the NIH he hopes to get a MD-PhD degree. Outside of lab he loves cooking, running, and being in nature.

Sara Kirschner

Sara Kirschner, BA (she/her/hers) Sara graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2022 with degrees in Cognitive Studies and Neuroscience. At Vanderbilt, she completed her honors thesis on coping and emotion regulation in adolescents exposed to early childhood trauma. After her IRTAship, Sara plans to pursue a doctorate degree in clinical psychology. Outside of the lab, Sara is a yoga teacher and enjoys spending time with her friends and dog.

Clinical Operations Managers

Ssence J Peterson

Ssence J Peterson (she/her/hers) Ssence started with the Emotion and Development group in September 2009. She supports the Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience group with onboarding and off-boarding for staffing, facilities management, purchasing, travel, etc.

Top view of a drawing of a brain

Dianna Pico Dianna has worked at the NIH for the past 5 years and joined SDAN as a Clinical Operations Manager in 2020.

Past Lab Members

Researchers in the Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award fellowship program (Postbac IRTAs) in SDAN serve a vital role in the lab, coordinating between all arms of the work so that clinical activities, data collection, and data analysis run smoothly. With extensive clinical exposure and mentorship, Postbac IRTAs enhance their knowledge and cultivate unique research and clinical skills facilitating their next educational endeavors. Our Postbac IRTAs have typically gone on to Clinical Psychology PhD Programs or Medical School. We are very proud of all our Postbac IRTAs and their accomplishments in SDAN and beyond! For information on applying to be a Postbac IRTA in SDAN, look at our Join the Lab page and the NIH Postbac IRTA Program  website.

Postbaccalaureate Fellows

2021 – 2023 Rachel Bernstein, James Rozsypal, Olivia Siegal, Paia Amelio, Alexandra Koller, Chase Antonacci, Laura Jett, Phil Newsome

2020 – 2022 Isaac Morales, Isabella Spaulding, Jordan Galbraith, Grace Ringlein, Marisa Meyer, Devi Lakhlani

2019 – 2021 Gwyn Delap, Sonia Ruiz, Jessica Bezek

2018 – 2020 Gabrielle Freitag, Emily Jones, Elizabeth Kitt, Mira Bajaj

2017 – 2019 Anni Subar, Dominique Phillips, Hannah Zweibel

2016 – 2018 Brigid Behrens, Caroline Swetlitz, Chika Matsumoto, Quyen Do, Daniel Coppersmith

2015 - 2017 Julia Feldman, Adina Heckleman, Jessica Sachs

2014 - 2016 Madeline Farber, Brent Rappaport, Stefanie Sequeira, Elizabeth Steuber

2013 – 2015 Elizabeth Ivie, Anastasia McGlade, Laurie Russell

2012 – 2014 Emily Ronkin, Dana Rosen, Stuart Wong

2011 – 2013 Jamie Mash, Adrienne Romer, Carolyn Spiro

2010 – 2013 Christina Carlisi

2010 – 2012 Michelle Clementi, Teresa Daniele, Jeremy Kruger, Rista Plate

Postdoctoral Fellows

SDAN has also been home to many postdoctoral researchers over the years, who often go on to become professors. For information about becoming a postdoc in SDAN, email Dr. Pine at and look at the NIH Postdoctoral Research Training Awards and Visiting Fellows  website.

2017 – 2022 Elise Cardinale, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, The Catholic University of America

2016 – 2022 Rany Abend, Assistant Professor, School of Psychology, Reichman University, Israel

2017 – 2021 Anita Harrewijn, Post-doctoral researcher, Department of Psychology, Education & Child Studies, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Netherlands

2015 – 2021 Ashley Smith, Program Officer, Individual Fellowship Opportunities Programs, National Institute of Mental Health

2015 – 2017 David Pagliaccio, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Clinical Neurobiology, Columbia University

2013 – 2017 Andrea Gold, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University Alpert Warren School of Medicine

2013 – 2016 Lauren White, Research Associate, Lifespan Brain Institute, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

2012 – 2016 Kalina Michalska, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of California, Riverside

2011 – 2016 Johanna Jarcho, Assistant Professor of Psychology with a joint appointment in Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Social Psychology at Temple University

2010 – 2013 Tomer Shechner, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Israel

2008 – 2012 Jennifer Britton, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Miami