Branch Chief and Staff
Kevin P. Conway, PhD, is a Staff Scientist in GEB-SDGE, where he provides scientific direction and oversight for the research program. Dr. Conway is a nationally recognized expert in the epidemiology and measurement of substance use and mental health disorders. The unifying theme across Dr. Conway’s research is the application of epidemiologic, quantitative, and qualitative methods to elucidate the etiology of mental disorders through the identification of potent but malleable risk factors.
Before joining GEB-SDGE in 2020, Dr. Conway was Senior Behavioral Health Scientist at RTI International. At RTI, he served as Principal Investigator for the Data Coordinating Center of the HEALing Communities Study, a multi-site trial evaluating the impact of the Communities That HEAL intervention on reducing opioid overdose deaths within 67 communities in four states. Dr. Conway formerly served as Deputy Director of the Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). At NIDA, Dr. Conway also informed the design and implementation of several national research efforts, including the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, the NIH Toolbox, and the PhenX Toolkit.
Dr. Conway authored over 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He is a Fellow of the American Psychopathological Association and the recipient of more than 25 awards for leadership in research. Dr. Conway earned the PhD in Experimental Psychology from Temple University in 1998, and received post-doctoral training in psychiatric and genetic epidemiology at Yale University.
Francesca Belouad, MA, is a Research Psychologist in GEB-SDGE. She is responsible for administrating interviews and overseeing clinical aspects of the NIMH Family Study. Francesca has been employed as a Research Psychologist at the NIMH since 2000, when she was recruited by Dennis Charney, MD, during the formation of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Research Program. Prior to this, she held research positions at the Section on Development Psychology at the NIMH, Outpatient Psychiatry at the Washington Veterans Medical Center, and the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
Francesca's work has focused on the writing and submission of the original NIMH Family Study protocol and the development and selection of research measures. She currently administers headache, psychiatric, sleep, and family history interviews to adults and children at initial and follow-up time points. She conducts reviews of clinical assessments and provides direction to outside collaborators on established interview guidelines. Her research interests include sleep patterns in mood disorders and the validity of subthreshold thresholds in depression and anxiety.
Francesca has contributed to peer-reviewed manuscripts including Structured diagnostic interview for sleep disorders: rationale and validity and Validation of the Diagnostic Interview for Affective Spectrum Disorders. She holds a master's degree in Psychology from George Mason University and completed her thesis, Social Cognition, and preschoolers at risk for conduct disorders, at the Laboratory of Developmental Psychology, at the NIMH.
Jessica L Carpenter, MD, is a Staff Clinician and joined GEB-SDGE in the fall of 2018. Dr. Carpenter supervises clinical aspects of the NIMH Family Study in the NIH Clinical Center. Dr. Carpenter received her MD from Tufts University School of Medicine in 2002. She trained as a pediatric resident at Georgetown University Hospital and went on to complete a child neurology fellowship at Children's National Hospital (CNH) in Washington DC in 2007. She was on the faculty at CNH for 13 years, where she created and developed the Pediatric Stroke Program as well as co-directed the Neurocritical Care Program. As a Staff Clinician, Dr. Carpenter focuses on mental health research pertaining to neuroimaging and neurophysiology.
Claudia Choque, MSW, is a Clinical Interviewer and joined GEB-SDGE in 2016. She conducts and evaluates assessments of physical and mental health in adults and children. Claudia has her Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and is currently working toward her PhD in social work at UMB. Her research interests focus on the psychopathology of risky-behaved youth.
Tara Lateef, MD, MPH, joined GEB-SDGE in 2007 as a Staff Clinician and Research Collaborator. Dr. Lateef is a Pediatric Neurologist at Children's National Health System and Pediatric Specialists of Virginia and faculty member of George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Lateef is an Epidemiologist by training, and her research interests include migraine epidemiology as well as the intersection of headache with mood disorders and sleep problems.
Alyssa McGraw, MPH, is a Scientific Program Analyst and joined GEB-SDGE in 2017. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park in Kinesiology in 2016 and her Master of Public Heath from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2021, where her focus was on physical activity. Alyssa is currently helping to coordinate NIMH research and works with study staff on clinical interviews, tasks, and study recruitment. Her main research interest is the connection between mental health and physical activity.
Kathleen O'Leary, MSW, is a Senior Clinical Advisor in GEB-SDGE. Before joining the group in 2015, Kathleen worked for NIMH since 1980 as a Research Social Worker in both the Intramural and Extramural divisions. She trained as a Child Psychotherapist at Smith College School for Social Work and worked on Stanley Greenspan's Clinical Infant Development Program when she started at NIMH, before moving on to studies of borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia in the IRP. Also for the IRP, she supervised the NIMH human subjects protection unit and served on the NIH Clinical Center Ethics Committee. From 2007 to 2014 she worked as Deputy Chief and then Chief of the NIMH Women's Program, with a focus on perinatal mental health, sex and gender differences in mental health, and violence against women research. She served as the NIMH delegate to the first NIH Sex and Gender Minority Research Coordinating Committee and was a member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention's Research Task Force. Her publications include results from the first medication-free neuropsychological study of individuals with borderline personality disorder, and book chapters on that topic, as well as papers on mood variability, group therapy, and how to establish a therapeutic alliance with pregnant adolescents.
Armelle Tchayep, NP, joined GEB-SDGE in 2023 as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner. Prior to joining the NIMH, she worked as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at the University of Maryland Medical Center and the NIH Clinical Center. She has a background in mental illnesses management and substance use disorders management and will provide clinical expertise on the NIMH Rhythms and Blues research protocol.
Lihong Cui, MS, joined GEB-SDGE as a Statistician in 2004. Lihong is the chief data analyst and manager for the NIMH Family Study, and she routinely conducts analyses using data from other studies. She graduated from the University of New York at Albany with a master's degree in Biostatistics in 2003. She is experienced with multi-level modeling, survival modeling, survey data analysis, and has experience working with databases in many different systems and platforms.
Jaclyn Franco is an Interdisciplinary Health Scientist (Data Science) in GEB-SDGE. She joined the group in 2011 after working as a Data and Program Manager in cancer epidemiology research at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Within GEB-SDGE, Jackie manages data collection processes for research protocols, oversees systems for computerizing study instruments, and coordinates the research program’s scientific activities. Jackie also joined the NIH Child Care Board in 2021 and currently serves as Co-Chair.
Wei Guo, PhD, is a Research Fellow GEB-SDGE and joined the group in 2018. Dr. Guo is responsible for data analysis for several projects including research on mobile technologies in mental and physical health. Dr. Guo graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a Bachelor of Applied Science in 1992 and earned a PhD in Neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis in 2006. Dr. Guo has established a pipeline to process, error check, and prepare high level repeated measure "big data" from several thousand participants that will facilitate cross-study comparability and increase statistical power. She has provided documentation to allow investigators from multiple international sites to process their data independently and guide them on use of programs to visualize and analyze the data. She has led our transition to using novel statistical programs in R for multi-level repeated-measure data, as well as analyses of data from two different sites and two different devices to promote data harmonization and cross-site validation.
Larissa Hunt, MS, holds a Master of Science degree in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado Boulder and worked as a research assistant in the Circadian and Sleep Epidemiology Laboratory under Dr. Celine Vetter. During her time as a graduate student in the lab, she was involved in the planning, execution, and analysis of results in a study of sleep, activity, and eating patterns using wearable-sensor technology. Additionally, she developed and validated the use of machine learning algorithms in analyzing dimensions of behavior that influence circadian health first in an undergraduate honor's thesis and second in a master's research project as personal projects in the lab. She also had the opportunity to teach human anatomy and endocrinology as a graduate teaching assistant at the university. Larissa joined GEB-SDGE in 2022 and assists with research and data activities, including the coordination and integration of mobile activity assessments across research protocols.
Jian-Ping He, MS, is a Statistician and joined GEB-SDGE in 2005. She received a bachelor's degree in Medicine from Shanghai Medical University in China. She also received a master's degree in Biostatistics from Shanghai Medical University and a master's degree in Science, majoring in Epidemiology from Michigan State University. She is the chief analyst for large scale epidemiologic studies and has played a leading role in facilitating the dissemination of the first US national studies on child mental health including the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) –Replication (NCS-R), its adolescent extension (NCS-A), and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). She routinely collaborates with Principal Investigators within the NIH and from extramural academic institutions.
Sun Jung Kang, PhD, is a Staff Scientist in GEB-SDGE and joined in 2019. Dr. Kang focuses on the development of translational studies to identify the regulatory systems underlying motor activity and sleep across species by joint analysis of multiple domains. She worked at Albany Stratton VA Medical Center and SUNY Downstate Medical Center before she joined NIMH in 2016. She received her BA in Mathematics from the University of Virginia, an MS in Applied Mathematics from New York University, a PhD in Applied Mathematics and Statistics from State University of New York Stony Brook, and post-doctoral training from Duke University and Case Western Reserve University.
Diana Paksarian, PhD, is a Special Volunteer. Dr. Paksarian holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Oberlin College and a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from Columbia University. She was a Pre-doctoral Fellow in the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she studied with Dr. William Eaton. She received her PhD in 2013, and was a Post-doctoral IRTA and Research Fellow at the NIMH from 2013-2022.
Debangan Dey, PhD, is a Visiting Post-doctoral Fellow in GEB-SDGE and joined in 2019. He received his PhD in Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins University in 2022 and he received his bachelor (2015) and master degrees in Statistics (2017) from the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata. Debangan develops novel statistical methodology to analyze mobile health data coming from ecological momentary assessment, actigraphy monitoring, and repeated measurement of biomarkers. His research goal is to answer important scientific questions concerning dynamic relationship between multiple health systems.
Yunna Kwan, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist and Visiting Post-doctoral Fellow who joined GEB-SDGE in 2023. She earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Duksung Women's University in Seoul, Korea, and her BA in Psychology from Catholic University of Korea. Her main research interest is identifying disorder-specific cognitive and brain dysfunctions in patients with bipolar disorder, and exploring how these functional impairments manifest across their lifespan.
Emmanuella Michel is a Post-baccalaureate IRTA Fellow and joined GEB-SDGE in 2021. Emmanuella earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health Science from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2020. Her research interests consist of the improvement of health conditions, and inequalities that impact vulnerable communities that lack adequate health care services. She hopes to gain research experience in examining preventative and treatment approaches in promoting optimal health among at-risk populations. She plans to pursue an MPH in Behavioral and Community Health, and plans to further her education in Medicine.
Pelu Osunkoya is a Post-baccalaureate IRTA Fellow and joined GEB-SDGE in 2022. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and minors in Entrepreneurship and Theatre Performance. As an undergraduate, she worked in the Personality & Dysregulation lab which focused on the biological, psychological, and environmental factors that cause people to engage in self-destructive behavior. Her current interests include the genetics and risk factors of mood and anxiety disorders, clinical interviewing, and neuroimaging. She plans on pursuing an MD degree after her time at GEB-SDGE.
Ananya Swaminathan, MSE, joined the GEB-SDGE as a Post-baccalaureate IRTA Fellow in 2022. She studied Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and received a BS and MSE in 2021. She previously worked in Dr. Kathleen Cullen’s lab to develop a tool to screen mice for vestibular dysfunction. Ananya is currently researching hormonal biomarkers of circadian rhythm disruption and their relationship to mood disorders. She hopes to pursue an MD/PhD.
GEB-SDGE – Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch – Section on Developmental Genetic Epidemiology
IRTA – Intramural Research Training Award
IRP – Intramural Research Program
MPH – Master of Public Health
MSW – Master of Social Work
NIMH – National Institute of Mental Health
NIDA – National Institute on Drug Abuse
NIMH Family Study- NIMH Family Study of Affective and Anxiety Spectrum Disorders