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Branch Staff


Susan Swedo, M.D., Branch Chief

Susan Swedo, M.D., is Chief of the Pediatrics and Developmental Neuropsychiatry Branch, NIMH. She is a board-certified pediatrician, who trained at Northwestern University’s Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Swedo has authored/co-authored over 100 research publications since joining the NIMH in 1986. Her research has focused on diagnosis and treatment of childhood neuropsychiatric conditions, including Sydenham’s chorea, Tourette Syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Swedo and colleagues were the first to describe a post-infectious etiology for OCD and define criteria identifying the PANDAS subgroup (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections). Current research efforts are directed at identifying biological causes for behavioral syndromes and developing new and more effective therapies.

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Paul Grant, M.D.,Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Paul Grant, M.D. is board-certified in adult and in child and adolescent psychiatry and has several years of experience in clinical child psychiatry (and more than twenty years of prior experience in clinical medicine). He has previously participated in child psychiatry research at an academic institution, and since 2003 has served as clinician in the research protocols of the Pediatrics and Developmental Neuropsychiatry Branch.

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Audrey Thurm, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

Audrey Thurm, Ph.D. is a staff scientist in PDN. She is a licensed child clinical psychologist who specializes in autism spectrum disorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders. She received training at DePaul University and Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and conducted a post-doctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She has been at NIMH since 2002, serving in the extramural program until 2006, as chief of both the Autism and Social Behavior Program, and the Compulsive Repetitive Behaviors Program. In 2006 she moved to the intramural program to help launch the autism research program. She has expertise in longitudinal studies and an interest in markers of the early diagnosis of autism.

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David Black, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

David Black, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and pediatric neuropsychologist. He specializes in the neuropsychological assessment and diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Black received his PhD in clinical psychology from George Mason University and completed his post-doctoral training at UCLA.

Ashura Buckley MD., Child Neurologist

Ashura W. Buckley, M.D., is a pediatric neurologist who is board certified in both Neurology with Special Qualifications in Child Neurology and Sleep Medicine. She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University, her M.D. from SUNY, Stony Brook and completed her training in child neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is particularly interested in the normal developmental trajectory of sleep architecture and how the investigation of abnormal sleep neurophysiology in autism and other developmental disabilities may elucidate underlying aberrant neurotransmission and offer potential therapeutic targets.

Precilla D’Souza, CRNP-P, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Precilla D’Souza, RN, MSN, CRNP-P is a licensed Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with more than 14 years of experience. She received her training from the University of Maryland and Fr. Muller’s College of Nursing in India. Precilla joined the Pediatrics and Developmental Neuroscience team in 2010.

Christine Golden Williams, Ph.D, Clinical Psychologist

Christine Golden Williams, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist with a concentration in work with children and families. She completed a Pediatric Psychology Fellowship at Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron in their NeuroDevelopmental Center where she obtained specialized training in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, with an emphasis on autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Golden Williams joined the Pediatrics and Developmental Neuropsychiatry Branch in February 2007.

Teresa Huggins, Ph.D., Clinical Trials Data Manager

Teresa Huggins, Ph.D. is an experimental psychologist, with particular interest in cognitive behavior. Dr. Huggins received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and joined the NIMH in1985. She worked on an in-patient Mood Disorders unit for 20 years. Now with the PDN, she is the Clinical Trials Data Manager. Dr. Huggins is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland.

Lorraine Lougee, LCSW-C, Research Social Worker

Lorraine Lougee, LCSW-C, is a research social worker with a degree from Columbia University. She has been with the NIMH since 1995, and works on the Autism and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder studies.

Margaret Pekar, M.A., Intake Coordinator

Margaret Pekar, M.A., received her degree in 1999 from Marymount University. She has been with the Section on Behavioral Pediatrics since 1996.

Post Doctoral Fellows

  • Cristan Farmer, Ph.D., Psychology – Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Marta Gozzi, Ph.D., Experimental Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Linguistics
  • Lisa Joseph, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology
  • Lauren Swineford, Ph.D., Speech- Language Pathology

Post Baccalaureate Research Assistants

  • Kristina Butler, B.A.
  • Erica Dashow, B.A.
  • Phoebe Kahn, B.S.
  • Rustin Kashani, B.S.
  • Damilola Olatunji, Sc.B.
  • Leah Rothschild, B.A.
  • Laura Soskey, B.S.
  • Lindsay Wood, B.A.