Skip to content

COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.

Get the latest public health information from CDC:
Get the latest research information from NIH:

Human Genetics Branch


Current Lab Members

Jonathan Blumenthal, MAJonathan Blumenthal, MA, is a Research Psychologist. His degree is from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was the Project Coordinator for several alcohol, drug, and ADHD studies. He came to the NIMH in 1997 to oversee the collaboration with Montreal Neurological Institute, which focused on automated measures of brain anatomy using MRI. He then became the Project Coordinator of the Study of Sex Chromosome Variations, including Klinefelter Syndrome and Trisomy X Syndrome that explored the effects of chromosomes on brain development. He is now the Research Coordinator for the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit.

Liv Clasen, PhDLiv Clasen, PhD, is a graduate of the Clinical Psychology program at The George Washington University. She is the Data Manager for the branch.

Aleksandra Dakic, PhDAleksandra Dakic, PhD is the Lab Manager in the Developmental Neurogenomic Unit. She received her PhD in Molecular Cell Biology from the University of Belgrade in Serbia. Previously, Aleksandra was a Scientist at American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) collaborating with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) team to develop and implement a new method for mouse cell line authentication. Before joining the ATCC in 2016, Aleksandra spent 12 years at Georgetown University conducting research on the basic biology of papillomaviruses and their role in human cancers. During her research career, she has gained extensive experience in the cell immortalization and cell reprogramming, as well as 3D cell modelling. Aleksandra’s current research interests are focused on developing in vitro cellular models from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), to enhance our understanding of sex chromosome influences on human neurodevelopment.

François M. Lalonde, Ph.D.François M. Lalonde, Ph.D. is a Staff Scientist working on the advancement of MRI neuroimaging methods and technologies that can be applied to study brain development and decline through the lifespan. Majoring in psychobiology, he graduated with distinction from McGill University, and then obtained an M.A. from The George Washington University and his Ph.D from Howard University, both in neuropsychology. He is a licensed psychologist with expertise in geriatric as well as pediatric neuropsychological assessment. After 30 years of service, Dr. Lalonde retired this past year from the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service at the rank of Captain.

Siyaun Liu portraitSiyuan Liu, Ph.D. is a Staff Scientist in the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit. He received his Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. With a focus on neuroimaging, he completed postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco and a research fellowship at NIDCD. He is interested in studying the typical development of brain structures and functions, and abnormal changes in X and Y chromosome aneurploides, and how these abnormalities are associated with clinical symptoms and genetic factors.

Armin Raznahan, MD, PhDArmin Raznahan, MD, PhD, is a Lasker Clinical Research Scholar and Chief of the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit. His research combines neuroimaging, genomic and bioinformatic techniques to better understand the architecture of human brain development in health, and in neurogenetic disorders that increase risk for psychiatric symptoms. Clinically, Dr. Raznahan has a degree in Medicine and a PhD in Biological Psychiatry from King’s College University London, UK. He has completed residencies in pediatrics and psychiatry, and a specialist fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, London, UK.

Erin Torres, MSN, CRNP-PMHErin Torres, MSN, CRNP-PMH is a Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who received her degree from University of Maryland, Baltimore in May of 2014. She has been working as a nurse practitioner in private practice since November of last year. She has been working as a clinical research nurse for almost 7 years on the pediatric behavioral health unit at the National Institutes of Health.  She has been a registered nurse since August 2002 and received her Bachelors of Science from Hampton University in May 2002. The majority of her nursing career has been in various psychiatric settings, but she also has experience working in the emergency department and in pediatrics. She will be conducting physical exams and nursing assessments for the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit.

Allysa Warling, BAAllysa Warling, BA, graduated from Colorado College in 2019 with a Neuroscience major and a Biochemistry minor. While at Colorado College, she researched and completed a senior thesis on the neurodegenerative effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Allysa joined the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit as a post-baccalaureate IRTA in the summer of 2019. In the future, she hopes to complete an M.D.-Ph.D. and pursue a career as a physician-scientist.

Ethan Whitman, B.S.Ethan Whitman, B.S., graduated from Tufts University in 2019 majoring in Clinical Psychology and Spanish. While at Tufts, his research primarily focused on the neural basis of emotional dysregulation in posttraumatic stress disorder. He joined the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit as a Post-Baccalaureate IRTA Fellow in June 2019. After working at the DNU, he hopes to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology.

Kathleen Wilson, BAKathleen Wilson, BA, graduated from Middlebury College in 2019 with majors in Neuroscience and Spanish. At Middlebury, she completed her senior thesis work on gene mapping of conditioned fear in an outbred mouse population. Kathleen is currently a Post-Baccalaureate IRTA in the DNU. In the future, she hopes to pursue an M.D., with an emphasis on personalized medicine and preventative medicine in the public health sector.


Aaron Alexander-BlochAaron Alexander-Bloch MD, PhD, studied philosophy of mind at Harvard College and completed a Masters in computational biology at the University of Cambridge. His MD/PhD training was a collaboration between the UCLA School of Medicine, the University of Cambridge, and the Child Psychiatry Branch at NIMH, through the NIH-Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program. His PhD research used structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging to study typical development and childhood-onset schizophrenia, with a particular focus on network models of the brain and structure-function relationships. At Cambridge, he was supervised by Prof Ed Bullmore. At NIMH, he was supervised by Jay Giedd and collaborated closely with Armin Raznahan. Currently a psychiatry resident at Yale in the Neuroscience Research Training Program, he continues to be interested in brain imaging and the application of computational methods to psychiatry.

Prableen K. ChowdharyPrableen K. Chowdhary is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park obtaining a dual degree in neurobiology and biochemistry. She is a part of the Gemstone Honors Program on a 10-member team researching hematopoietic stem cell differentiation from induced pluripotent stem cells. She spent Summer 2016 as a student intern in The Developmental Neurogenomics Unit of the Child Psychiatry Branch. Prableen hopes to pursue a PhD in neuroscience and research neurodegenerative disorders and mental illnesses.

Alex Denker portraitAlexander Denker, Ph.D. returned to NIMH in 2019 to serve as a Scientific Policy Analyst in the Extramural Policy Branch. Dr. Denker completed his doctoral training in Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience and Animal Behavior at Emory University. Prior to his Post-Baccalaureate IRTA position, Dr. Denker graduated from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a concentration in “The Neuroscience of Art,” building his concentration by combining the coursework of a neuroscience major with courses in the cultural theory of art and music.

Ari M. Fish, BSAri M. Fish, BSc, is a 2014 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Psychology and a minor in Economics. He joined the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit in July, 2015. During his time at the NIH, he worked on multiple projects, including an examination of sex chromosome dosage on gyrification of the human cortex, as well as an analysis of amygdalo-hippocampal development in healthy adolescents. Ari is currently a medical student at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.

Alli HanleyAlli Hanley, MHS, learned a new skill set working on several neuroimaging projects including a novel use for magnetization transfer imaging, and writing the first quantitative study of brain matter in 48, XXYY syndrome. The latter study was presented at the Society for Neuroscience 2015 conference and was published in NeuroImage: Clinical. After leaving the Branch, she hiked the Appalachian Trail before beginning a PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Maryland.

Amy LinAmy Lin graduated from Colorado College with a BA in Neuroscience in 2012. While at the Child Psychiatry Branch, Amy published a paper with Dr. Armin Raznahan that mapped brain asymmetry in people with sex chromosome aneuploidies. She presented the work at the Organization for Human Brain Mapping conference in Hamburg, Germany. She will begin a Ph.D. program in Neuroscience at UCLA in the fall of 2015.

Catherine M. Mankiw, ABCatherine M. Mankiw, AB, is a 2014 graduate of Princeton University with a major in Economics and a cross-disciplinary minor in Ethics. She was a Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow in the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit of the Child Psychiatry Branch. Catherine is currently at Harvard Medical School.

Cassidy McDermott, BSCassidy McDermott, BA, graduated from Dartmouth College in 2017 with a major in Neuroscience and minors in Education and Spanish. She was a Post-Baccalaureate IRTA in the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit from 2017 to 2019. While at the DNU, Cassidy worked with children with Klinefelter Syndrome and conducted research on environmental effects on brain development, as well as white matter structure variation in typical development. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Ajay Nadig, B.A.Ajay Nadig, B.A. is a 2017 graduate of Northwestern University with majors in Neuroscience and Philosophy. He worked as a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow in the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit from 2017 to 2019, where he worked with children with Klinefelter’s Syndrome and conducted research on brain morphology in health and genetic disease. He is presently enrolled in the joint M.D./Ph.D. program at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jakob Seidlitz, BSJakob Seidlitz is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, working with Aaron Alexander-Bloch. He spent his time at the DNU during his PhD in the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program, jointly supervised by Armin Raznahan and Ed Bullmore (Cambridge). His work, focused on integrating non-invasive neuroimaging (MRI) with transcriptomics/genomics, spanned normative childhood and adolescent development and rare neurogenetic syndromes (e.g., sex-chromosome aneuploidies).

Mani Yavi member of DNUMani Yavi, MD, is a currently a psychiatry resident at Saint Elizabeths hospital, with a strong background in scientific research and his interests in neuroscience has led him to seek mentorship at NIH in Dr. Raznahan’s lab, where he is applying bioinformatics models to large longitudinal neuroimaging datasets to determine white matter variations and neural tract impacts of sex-differences, allometry, and structure-function relationships within the central nervous system. Mani completed his bachelors from UC Berkeley with a dual degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Studio Art. Prior to medical school, he was doing research at UCSF one the genetic of eye development and the optico-neural circuits. Mani graduated from SUNY Upstate medical university and completed a year of internal medicine there before moving to Washington DC, where he plans on pursuing a career in academic psychiatry.

Anastasia G. XenophontosAnastasia G. Xenophontos, BS, is 2016 graduate of the University of Michigan with a major in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. She spent the past two years as a Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow in the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit conducting research on sex chromosome dosage effects on cortical morphology. Anastasia is currently at Georgetown University School of Medicine.