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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Emotional and Developmental Branch Emotion and Development Branch (E & D)

Ellen Leibenluft, M.D. Biography

Ellen Leibenluft, M.D. is Senior Investigator (tenured), Chief of the Section on Mood Dysregulation and Neuroscience and Co-Branch Chief of the Emotion and Development Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health.

Dr. Leibenluft’s research involves the use of cognitive neuroscience techniques and neuroimaging modalities, including functional MRI, to uncover the brain mechanisms that underlie bipolar disorder and severe irritability in youth. She has demonstrated that children with bipolar disorder and those at familial risk for the disorder have deficits labeling emotional faces, and has begun to elucidate the relevant brain mechanisms. Dr. Leibenluft has also identified differences in clinical course and brain function between youth with bipolar disorder and those with severe, non-episodic irritability. Her work has begun to elucidate possible neural mechanisms mediating severe irritability in youth, suggesting novel treatment interventions.

Dr. Leibenluft completed her B.A. from Yale University summa cum laude, her M.D. from Stanford University, and residency training at Georgetown University. Since 1989, she has been conducting research at the NIMH. She has authored approximately 200 publications and is a Deputy Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Bipolar Disorders, Depression and Anxiety, and the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology; and a member of the Advisory Board of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Dr. Leibenluft is a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and served on the American Psychiatric Association Work Group on Childhood Disorders for DSM-V. Her awards include NIMH and NIH Outstanding Mentor Awards; the American Psychiatric Association Blanche Ittelson Award for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Special Service Awards from the NIH; the Litchfield Lectureship at Oxford University; the Michael Rutter lectureship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists; and the NIMH Director’s Merit Award.