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Trainee Successes: Past & Present

Past Highlighted Trainees

Shahriar SheikhBahaei, Ph.D.

Shahriar SheikhBahaei, Ph.D.

Dr. SheikhBahaei’s interest in neuroscience stemmed from the usual combination of an aptitude for science and a medical problem (stuttering) that brought him into bioscience at a young age. Dr. SheikhBahaei received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, where he worked with Dr. Bob Zucker on the regulation of neurotransmitter release and Dr. John Rubenstein (UC San Francisco) on development of GABAergic neurons in basal ganglia. Dr. SheikhBahaei completed his doctoral studies in Neuroscience (2017) jointly under NIMH/NINDS – University College London (UCL) Graduate Partnership Program where he worked with Drs. Jeffrey Smith (NINDS) and Alexander Gourine (UCL). His graduate studies were on how astrocytic networks control activities of respiratory motor circuits within the brainstem. After short postdoctoral research at NINDS, Dr. SheikhBahaei became an Independent Research Scholar in 2019. In collaboration with the laboratories of Drs. Chudasama and Leopold at NIMH, Dr. Sheikhbahaei’s lab tries to expand understanding of the anatomical and functional organization of the cortical and subcortical structures controlling volitional and non-volitional vocalizations in social contexts. Dr. SheikhBahaei’s work and contributions to the field have been recognized by several awards, including NINDS Director’s Award for Research Excellence (FARE) in 2015 and 2018, AAAS Joshua E. Neimark Memorial Award, and inaugural selection to the Independent Research Scholar Program of the NIH Office of Intramural Research.


Ph.D., Neuroscience, University College London (jointly with NIMH/NINDS)

BA (Honors), Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Selected Publications

  1. Sheikhbahaei, S., Turovsky, E., Hosford, P, Hadjihambi, A., et al (2018) Astrocytes modulate brainstem respiratory rhythm-generating circuits and determine exercise capacity Nature Communications, 9(1) , 370
  2. Sheikhbahaei S., Morris, B., Colina, J., Zhang, R., Gourine, A.V., Smith J.C (2018) Morphometric analysis of the brainstem astrocytes Journal of Comparative Neurology , 1–16
  3. Sheikhbahaei, S. and Smith, J.C (2017)Breathing to inspire and arouse Science, 355(6332) 1370-71
  4. Sheikhbahaei, S., Gourine, A.V. Smith, J.C. (2017) Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology, 246:92-97
  5. Angelova, P. R., Kasymov, V., Christie, I., Sheikhbahaei, S., Turovsky, E., Marina, N., Gourine, A.V (2015) Functional Oxygen Sensitivity of Astrocytes Journal of Neuroscience, 35(29), 10460–10473

Emily Finn, Ph.D. Dr. Emily Finn joined the Section on Functional Imaging Methods in 2017 as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Peter Bandettini. She uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to study individual differences in brain activity and connectivity and how these relate to behavior. During her postdoc, she has focused on how naturalistic scanning paradigms, such as watching a movie or listening to a story, may be used as a “stress test” for the brain, to draw out targeted idiosyncratic patterns of neural activity in both healthy people and those with or at risk for mental illness. This line of work builds on her graduate thesis, which demonstrated that each individual has a functional connectivity “fingerprint” that is both unique and reliable across various brain states, and that features of these signatures predict high-level cognitive traits such as fluid intelligence. In another line of work at NIMH, she has applied recent developments in high-resolution fMRI to study cortical layer-dependent activity in prefrontal cortex during working memory. In spring 2019, she was awarded a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence grant from the NIMH to support the last phase of her postdoc and her transition to independence. In July 2020, she will begin an assistant professorship in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, where her new lab will continue to study individual differences under naturalistic conditions using innovative imaging, behavioral and computational techniques.


PhD, Neuroscience, Yale University

BA, Linguistics, Yale University

Selected Publications

  1. Finn ES, Huber L, Jangraw DC, Molfese PJ, Bandettini PA. (2019). Layer-dependent activity in human prefrontal cortex during working memory. Nature Neuroscience, 22: 1687-1695
  2. Finn ES, Corlett PR, Chen G, Bandettini PA, Constable RT. (2018). Trait paranoia shapes inter-subject synchrony in brain activity during an ambiguous social narrative. Nature Communications, 9: 2043.
  3. Finn ES, Scheinost D, Finn DM, Shen X, Papademetris X, Constable RT. (2017). Can brain state be manipulated to emphasize individual differences in functional connectivity? NeuroImage, 160: 140-151.
  4. Shen X, Finn ES, Scheinost D, Rosenberg MD, Chun MM, Papademetris X, Constable RT. (2017). Using connectome-based predictive modeling to predict individual behavior from brain connectivity. Nature Protocols 12: 506-18.
  5. Rosenberg MD*, Finn ES*, Scheinost D, Shen X, Papademetris X, Constable RT, Chun MM. (2016) A neuromarker of sustained attention from whole-brain functional connectivity. Nature Neuroscience, 19: 165–171.
  6. Finn ES*, Shen X*, Scheinost D, Rosenberg MD, Huang J, Chun MM, Papademetris X, Constable RT. (2015) Functional connectome fingerprinting: Identifying individuals using patterns of brain connectivity. Nature Neuroscience, 18: 1664–1671.
Mark Eldridge, Ph.D.

Dr. Mark Eldridge joined the Section on Neural Coding and Computation at NIMH as a postdoctoral fellow in 2011 under the direction of Dr. Barry Richmond. During his time as a postdoc fellow Dr. Eldridge’s research interests included perception, recognition and categorization of visual stimuli in temporal lobe (2011-2016) and reversible silencing using DREADDs to investigate neural substrates of reward valuation (2016-2019). In December 2018, after completing his post-doctoral fellowship, Dr. Eldridge became a Staff Scientist in the Laboratory of Neuropsychology under the direction of Dr. Betsy Murray (NIMH). His research focuses on understanding how the perceptual and reward value systems interact in the formation of visual memory in non-human primates. He uses traditional techniques (e.g. aspiration lesions & pharmacology), combined with the application of modern molecular tools (e.g. chemogenetics) to explore the neural substrates of recognition, categorization and stimulus value assignment in the inferior temporal lobe and inter-connected regions.


PhD, MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity, University of Bristol, UK. Advisors: Profs Malcom Brown & Bob Muller. Project: Neuronal correlates of recognition memory in perirhinal cortex.

Study in industry, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Turnhout, Belgium. Project: Phenotyping of GlyT1 transgenic mouse line, as a putative model for schizophrenia

B.Sc. Pharmacology (with study in industry), University of Bristol, UK


  1. Jordi Bonaventura1†, Mark A. G. Eldridge2†, Feng Hu3†, Juan L. Gomez1, Marta Sanchez-Soto4, Ara M. Abramyan5, Sherry Lam1, Matthew Boehm1, Christina Ruiz6, Mitchell Farrell6, Stal S. Shrestha7, Sanjay Telu7, Sami S. Zoghbi7, Robert L. Gladding7, Andrea Moreno8, Islam Mustafa Galal Faress8, Niels Andersen8, John Y. Lin9, Victor W. Pike7, Robert B. Innis7, Ruin Moaddel10, Patrick Morris11, Lei Shi5, David R. Sibley4, Stephen V. Mahler6, Sadegh Nabavi8, Martin G. Pomper3, Antonello Bonci12, Andrew G. Horti3*, Barry J. Richmond2*, Michael Michaelides1, 13* † authors contributed equally. Chemogenetic ligands for translational neurotheranostics. Science (under review)
  2. Eldridge M.A.G., Matsumoto N., Wittig Jr. J.H., Masseau, E.C., Saunders, R.C., Richmond B.J. Perceptual processing in the ventral visual stream requires area TE but not rhinal cortex. eLife (2018) 7:e36310
  3. Eldridge M.A.G., Richmond B.J. Resisting the urge to act: DREADDs modifying habits. Trends Neurosci. (2017) Feb;40(2):61-62.
  4. Yuji Nagai, Erika Kikuchi, Walter Lerchner, Ken-ichi Inoue, Arata Oh-Nishi, Hiroyuki Kaneko, Bin Ji, Yukiko Hori, Yoko Kato, Mark A.G. Eldridge, Katsushi Kumata, Ming-Rong Zhang, Ichio Aoki, Tetsuya Suhara, Masahiko Takada, Makoto Higuchi, Barry J Richmond, Takafumi Minamimoto. PET visualization of chemogenetic receptors used to reversibly alter value-based decision in monkeys. Nat. Comm. (2016) 7: 13605
  5. Eldridge M.A.G., Lerchner W., Saunders R.C., Kaneko H., Krausz K., Gonzalez F., Ji B., Higuchi M., Minamimoto T., Richmond B.J. Chemogenetic disconnection of monkey orbitofrontal and rhinal cortex reversibly disrupts reward value. Nat. Neurosci. (2016) Jan;19(1):37-9.
  6. Matsumoto N.*, Eldridge M.A.G.*, Saunders R.C., Reoli R., Richmond B.J., *authors contributed equally. Mild perceptual categorization deficits follow bilateral removal of anterior inferior temporal cortex in rhesus monkeys. J Neurosci. (2016) Jan;36(1):43-53.
  7. Eldridge M.A.G., Chandra S., Richmond B.J. (2016). Is Visual Processing in Primates Strictly Hierarchical? Advances in Cognitive Neurodynamics (V): Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Cognitive Neurodynamics - 2015. R. Wang and X. Pan. Singapore, Springer Singapore: 9-12.
Vay Cao, Ph.D.

Vay Cao, Ph.D.

I spent just over 5 wonderfully challenging and educational years at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as a neuroscience doctoral candidate, conducting my thesis dissertation research in a laboratory studying neural activity and behavior. I was fortunate to have joined the NIH Graduate Partnership Program for my PhD, giving me the unique and unforgettable opportunity to do challenging, cutting edge research conducted by a diverse research population within a premiere research institution. As a graduate student who was relatively new to my doctoral field, I was surrounded by others' diverse research studies, with many intellectual extracurricular opportunities available to me.

At the NIMH, I studied how the brain changes in response to motor learning, using in vivo microscopy techniques and marrying my love for behavior with my interest in how our brains work. I also joined the NIH Graduate Student council, serving on the social committee and becoming Co-Chair in my third year. After that, I participated in the student-run acapella group "Nerds in Harmony (NIH)", performing in Building 10 with other researchers and graduate students for patients, visitors and fellow researchers.

As many people will also discover over the course of their research training experience, one important thing I discovered in my PhD was that academic research is not my true calling, even though I will always have the heart of a scientist. I began researching what career options are available to scientists in my third year, taking on opportunities at NIH and beyond to engage in writing, leadership and organizing. After I graduated, I joined a neurotech startup company, moving across the country to start my career in the business world. I feel so fortunate to still be knee deep in my love for neuroscience, but serving the research community in a different way. My first role in industry was as an Application Scientist, and I have since shifted my roles and responsibilities as I continue to grow with my company.

While working my day job, I also founded a career coaching platform and resource center called "Free the PhD," specifically to pay it forward and help fellow PhDs and other graduate students find an easier path into a career they love. Like myself, many will discover that academic research isn't for them, and I am passionate that ushering more talented, ambitious, research-trained individuals into society will make the world a better place. Through my research at the NIMH, I contributed scientific knowledge to my field, and that experience also contributed deeply to making me into the person I am today. Researchers have many avenues through which to disseminate knowledge, discover new things and make an impact, and I'm living proof that you can take your research experience into exciting and rewarding new life directions!

Selected Publications

  1. Skin suturing and cortical surface viral infusion improves imaging of neuronal ensemble activity with head-mounted miniature microscopes. Li X, Cao VY, Zhang W, Mastwal SS, Liu Q, Otte S, Wang KH. J Neurosci Methods. 2017 Nov 1;291:238-248. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.08.016. Epub 2017 Aug 19. PMID: 28830724 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article Similar articles
  2. Multi-layer Cortical Ca2+ Imaging in Freely Moving Mice with Prism Probes and Miniaturized Fluorescence Microscopy. Gulati S, Cao VY, Otte S. J Vis Exp. 2017 Jun 13;(124). doi: 10.3791/55579. PMID: 28654056 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article Similar articles
  3. Genetic Feedback Regulation of Frontal Cortical Neuronal Ensembles Through Activity-Dependent Arc Expression and Dopaminergic Input. Mastwal S, Cao V, Wang KH. Front Neural Circuits. 2016 Dec 6;10:100. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2016.00100. eCollection 2016. PMID: 27999532 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article Similar articles
  4. Dopamine is Required for Activity-Dependent Amplification of Arc mRNA in Developing Postnatal Frontal Cortex. Ye Y, Mastwal S, Cao VY, Ren M, Liu Q, Zhang W, Elkahloun AG, Wang KH. Cereb Cortex. 2017 Jul 1;27(7):3600-3608. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw181. PMID: 27365296 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article Similar articles
  5. Motor Learning Consolidates Arc-Expressing Neuronal Ensembles in Secondary Motor Cortex. Cao VY, Ye Y, Mastwal S, Ren M, Coon M, Liu Q, Costa RM, Wang KH. Neuron. 2015 Jun 17;86(6):1385-92. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.05.022. Epub 2015 Jun 4. PMID: 26051420 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article Similar articles
  6. Arc regulates experience-dependent persistent firing patterns in frontal cortex. Ren M, Cao V, Ye Y, Manji HK, Wang KH. J Neurosci. 2014 May 7;34(19):6583-95. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0167-14.2014. PMID: 24806683 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article Similar articles
  7. In vivo two-photon imaging of experience-dependent molecular changes in cortical neurons. Cao VY, Ye Y, Mastwal SS, Lovinger DM, Costa RM, Wang KH. J Vis Exp. 2013 Jan 5;(71). pii: 50148. doi: 10.3791/50148. PMID: 23329071 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article Similar articles
  8. Optogenetic inactivation modifies monkey visuomotor behavior. Cavanaugh J, Monosov IE, McAlonan K, Berman R, Smith MK, Cao V, Wang KH, Boyden ES, Wurtz RH. Neuron. 2012 Dec 6;76(5):901-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.10.016. PMID: 23217739 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article Similar articles
  9. Visual avoidance in Xenopus tadpoles is correlated with the maturation of visual responses in the optic tectum. Dong W, Lee RH, Xu H, Yang S, Pratt KG, Cao V, Song YK, Nurmikko A, Aizenman CD. J Neurophysiol. 2009 Feb;101(2):803-15. doi: 10.1152/jn.90848.2008. Epub 2008 Dec 10. PMID: 19073807 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article Similar articles
  10. IPRO: an iterative computational protein library redesign and optimization procedure. Saraf MC, Moore GL, Goodey NM, Cao VY, Benkovic SJ, Maranas CD. Biophys J. 2006 Jun 1;90(11):4167-80. Epub 2006 Mar 2. PMID: 16513775 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article Similar articles
Joel Stoddard, M.D.

Joel Stoddard, M.D.

Dr. Joel Stoddard is currently an assistant professor with the University of Colorado, School of Medicine and is working towards improved diagnostics and novel therapeutics for severe affective disorders in youth, targeting neurocognitive biases frequently associated with these disorders. Dr. Stoddard is a board-certified psychiatrist who completed clinical neuroscience training at the NIMH intramural program. His training has focused on the application of affective neuroscience techniques to elucidate the pathophysiology of severe affective disorders in children. In particular, chronic irritability is common concern for psychiatrists and is associated with negative outcomes. Dr. Stoddard’s work in irritability has focused on its associated cognitive biases, particularly social threat processing apart from that found in anxiety.

Selected Publications:

  1. Stoddard J, Hsu D, Reynolds RC, Brotman MA, Ernst M, Pine DS, Leibenluft, E, Dickstein DP. (2014). Aberrant amygdala intrinsic functional connectivity distinguishes youths with bipolar disorder from those with severe mood dysregulation. Psychiatric Research: Neuroimaging. 231(2), 120-125.
  2. Stoddard J, Sharif-Askary B, Harkins EA, Frank HR, Brotman MA, Penton-Voak IS, Maoz K, Bar-Haim Y, Munafò M, Pine DS, Leibenluft E. (2016). An open pilot study of training hostile interpretation bias to treat disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. 26(1), 49-57.
  3. Stoddard J, Gotts SJ, Brotman MA, Lever S, Hsu D, Zarate CA, Ernst M, Pine DS, Leibenluft E. (2016). Aberrant intrinsic functional connectivity within and between corticostriatal and temporal-parietal networks in adults and youth with bipolar disorder. Psychological Medicine. 46(7), 1509-22.
  4. Jarcho J, Davis MM, Shechner T, Degnan KA, Henderson HA, Stoddard J, Fox NA, Leibenluft E, Pine DS, Nelson EE. (2016). Early childhood social reticence predicts brain function in preadolescent youths during distinct forms of peer evaluation. Psychological Science. 27(6), 821-835.
  5. Maoz K, Eldar S, Stoddard J, Pine DS, Leibenluft E, Bar-Haim Y. (2016). Angry-happy interpretations of ambiguous faces in social anxiety disorder. Psychiatry Research. 241, 122-127.
  6. Tseng WL, Thomas LA, Harkins E, Stoddard J, Zarate CA, Pine DS, Leibenluft E, Brotman MA. (2016). Functional connectivity during masked and unmasked face emotion processing in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. 258, 1-9.
  7. Tseng WL, Moroney E, Machlin L, Roberson-Nay R, Hettema JM, Carney D, Stoddard J, Towbin KA, Pine DS, Leibenluft E, Brotman MA. (2017). Test-retest reliability of a frustration paradigm and irritability measures. Journal of Affective Disorders. 212, 38-45.
  8. Stoddard J, Tseng WL, Kim P, Yi J, Donahue L, Brotman MA, Towbin KA, Pine DS, Leibenluft E. (2017). Association of irritability and anxiety with the neural mechanisms of implicit face-emotion processing in youths with psychopathology. JAMA: Psychiatry. 74(1), 95-103.
  9. Weisman O, Guri Y, Gur RE, McDonald-McGinn DM, Calkins ME, Tang SX, Emanuel B, Zackai EH, Eliez S, Schneider M, Schaer M, Kates WR, Antshel KM, Fremont W, Shashi V, Hooper SR, Armando M, Pontillo M, Kushan L, Jalbrzikowski M, Bearden CE, Cubells JF, Ousley OY, Walker EF, Simon TJ, Stoddard J, Niendam TA, van den Bree MBM, Gothelf D, International Consortium on Brain and Behavior in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome. (2017). Subthreshold Psychosis in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome: Multisite Naturalistic Study. Schizophrenia Bulletin. 43(5) 1079-1089.
  10. Chen G, Taylor PA, Haller SP, Kircanski K, Stoddard J, Pine DS, Leibenluft E, Brotman MA, Cox RW. (2017) Intraclass correlation: improved modeling approaches and applications for neuroimaging. bioRxiv. 164327
Wan-Ling Tseng, Ph.D.

Wan-Ling Tseng, Ph.D.

Dr. Wan-Ling Tseng is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Ellen Leibenluft’s laboratory in the Section on Mood Dysregulation and Neuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).  She received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota.  During her PhD study under the mentorship of Dr. Nicki R. Crick, Dr. Tseng’s graduate research focused on the developmental trajectories of aggression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and associated social impairment.  In Dr. Ellen Leibenluft’s laboratory at the NIMH, her current work focuses on understanding the brain mechanisms mediating abnormal psychological processes associated with irritability in children and adolescents. 

Dr. Tseng has recently received an NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99) to use machine learning, a data-driven computational approach, to investigate the neural mechanisms of childhood irritability.  Her goal is to understand individual differences in how children process frustrating events, how frustration affects the neural mechanisms underlying attention and other cognitive function, and how these processes are associated with real-life irritability. Ultimately, her research goal is to study irritability using multiple levels of analysis (e.g., brain, behavior, environment) to gain a comprehensive understanding of the etiology and development of irritability.

In addition to her recent K99 Award, Dr. Tseng’s work has been recognized by other prestigious awards and organizations including the Society of Biological Psychiatry Travel Award (2015), Career Development Institute for Bipolar Disorder (2015), NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence (2015), and the NIMH OFT Trainee Travel Award (2016).

Selected Publications

  1. Tseng, W. L., Moroney, E., Machlin, L., Roberson-Nay, R., Hettema, J. M., Carney, D., Stoddard, J., Towbin, K. A., Pine, D. S., Leibenluft, E., & Brotman, M. A. (2017). Test-retest reliability and validity of a frustration paradigm and irritability measures. Journal of Affective Disorders, 212, 38-45.
  2. Stoddard, J., Tseng, W. L., Kim, P., Chen, G., Yi, J., Donahue, L., Brotman, M. A., Towbin, K. A., Pine, D. S., & Leibenluft, E. (2017). Association of irritability and anxiety with the neural mechanisms of implicit face emotion processing in youths with psychopathology. JAMA Psychiatry, 74, 95-103. 
  3. Tseng, W. L., Thomas, L. A., Harkins, E., Stoddard, J., Zarate, C. A., Pine, D. S., Leibenluft, E., & Brotman, M. A. (2016). Functional connectivity during masked and unmasked face emotion processing in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 258, 1-9.
  4. Tseng, W. L., Thomas, L. A., Harkins, E., Pine, D. S., Leibenluft, E., & Brotman, M. A. (2016). Neural correlates of masked and unmasked face emotion processing in severe mood dysregulation. Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience, 11, 78-88.
  5. Tseng, W. L., Guyer, A. E., Briggs-Gowan, M. J., Axelson, D., Birmaher, B., Egger, H. L., Helm, J., Stowe, Z., Towbin, K. A., Wakschlag, L. S., Leibenluft, E., & Brotman, M. A. (2015). Behavior and emotion modulation deficits in preschoolers at risk for bipolar disorder. Depression and Anxiety, 32, 325-334.  
  6. Tseng, W. L., Bones, B. L., Kayser, R. R., Olsavsky, A. K., Fromm, S. J., Pine, D. S., Leibenluft, E., & Brotman, M. A. (2015). An fMRI study of emotional face encoding in youth at risk for bipolar disorder. European Psychiatry, 30, 94-98.
  7. Tseng, W. L., Kawabata, Y., Gau, S. S., & Crick, N. R. (2014). Symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and peer functioning: A transactional model of development. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 42, 1353-1365.
  8. Brotman, M. A., Tseng, W. L., Olsavsky, A. K., Fromm, S. J., Muhrer, E. J., Rutenberg, J. G., Deveney, C. M., Adleman, N. E., Zarate, C. A., Pine, D. S., & Leibenluft, E. (2014). Fronto-limbic-striatal dysfunction in pediatric and adult patients with bipolar disorder: Impact of face emotion and attentional demands. Psychological Medicine, 44, 1639-1651.
  9. Tseng, W. L., & Gau, S. S. (2013). Executive function as a mediator for the link between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and social problems. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54, 996-1004.
Mbemba Jabbi, Ph.D.

Mbemba Jabbi, Ph.D.

Dr. Mbemba Jabbi is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. His lab studies how genes influence the structural and functional properties of brain circuitries critical for perception, cognition and adaptive aspects of human emotions. To better understand the neurogenetic influences on emotions, his group examines how the emergence of affective disorders are linked to genetic signatures of maladaptive brain functions. His research is integrative in that he: 1) analyzes normal behavioral, diagnostic and environmental phenotypes of affective states, 2) applies anatomical and physiological neuroimaging measures to analyze emotionally tractable brain states, and 3) employs genetic and molecular analyses of adaptive and maladaptive brain-mediated affective functions across the human developmental spectrum.


After obtaining his Ph.D. in Clinical Neuroscience from the University of Groningen, he joined Dr. Karen Berman’s Section of Integrative Neuroimaging in 2007 as a Fogarty International Visiting Postdoctoral Fellowship. Mbemba continued training with Dr. Berman as a research fellow until he joined the Dell Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, at the University of Texas, Austin in 2016.

NIMH Publications

  1. Variation in the Williams syndrome GTF2I gene and anxiety proneness interactively affect prefrontal cortical response to aversive stimuli. Jabbi M, Chen Q, Turner N, Kohn P, White M, Kippenhan JS, Dickinson D, Kolachana B, Mattay V, Weinberger DR, Berman KF. Transl Psychiatry. 2015 Aug 18;5:e622. doi: 10.1038/tp.2015.98. PMID: 26285132 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
  2. The Williams syndrome chromosome 7q11.23 hemideletion confers hypersocial, anxious personality coupled with altered insula structure and function. Jabbi M, Kippenhan JS, Kohn P, Marenco S, Mervis CB, Morris CA, Meyer-Lindenberg A, Berman KF. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 3;109(14):E860-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1114774109. Epub 2012 Mar 12. PMID: 22411788 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
  3. Bridging the gene-behavior divide through neuroimaging deletion syndromes: Velocardiofacial (22q11.2 Deletion) and Williams (7q11.23 Deletion) syndromes. Eisenberg DP, Jabbi M, Berman KF. Neuroimage. 2010 Nov 15;53(3):857-69. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.02.070. Epub 2010 Mar 3. Review. PMID: 20206275 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
  4. BDNF Val66 Met polymorphism tunes frontolimbic circuitry during affective contextual learning. Jabbi M, Cropp B, Nash T, Kohn P, Kippenhan JS, Masdeu JC, Mattay R, Kolachana B, Berman KF. Neuroimage. 2017 Sep 1;162:373-383. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.08.080. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28867340 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
  5. Midbrain presynaptic dopamine tone predicts sustained and transient neural response to emotional salience in humans: fMRI, MEG and FDOPA PET. Jabbi M, Nash T, Kohn P, Ianni A, Rubinstein D, Holroyd T, Carver FW, Masdeu JC, Kippenhan JS, Robinson SE, Coppola R, Berman KF. Mol Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;18(1):4-6. doi: 10.1038/mp.2012.12. Epub 2012 Mar 13. No abstract available. PMID: 22411228 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
  6. Convergent BOLD and Beta-Band Activity in Superior Temporal Sulcus and Frontolimbic Circuitry Underpins Human Emotion Cognition. Jabbi M, Kohn PD, Nash T, Ianni A, Coutlee C, Holroyd T, Carver FW, Chen Q, Cropp B, Kippenhan JS, Robinson SE, Coppola R, Berman KF. Cereb Cortex. 2015 Jul;25(7):1878-88. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht427. Epub 2014 Jan 23. PMID: 24464944 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
Harma Meffert, Ph.D.

Harma Meffert, Ph.D.

Dr. Harma Meffert joined Dr. James R. Blair’s team as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2012 (Section on Affective and Cognitive Neuroscience). She earned an M.S. in Cognitive Psychology (University of Groningen) and a Ph.D. in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (University Medical Center Groningen). During her Ph.D., Dr. Meffert showed that forensic patients with psychopathy display reduced activation in regions previously related to empathy, while observing emotional hand interactions. The data also showed that the empathy deficit might not be as static as previously thought; brain responses normalized with respect to typically developing adults when asked to actively empathize with the interactions. At the NIMH, Dr. Meffert focused on form and function of empathy deficits in youth with disruptive behavior disorders and limited prosocial emotions. Her main aim was to understand how emotional empathy fosters learning from other peoples’ experiences. To this end, Dr. Meffert developed a social referencing task during which participants learn about object valence by observing others’ emotional responses to these objects. This showed that the amygdala processes expression prediction errors during acquisition and is associated with responses to objects after acquisition. Dr. Meffert has been chair of the NIMH Fellows Committee from 2012 to 2015 and a research mentor in the NIMH Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research. In 2015, Dr. Meffert became Director of the Social Cognition Research Program at Boys Town National Research Hospital (BTNRH). Boys Town offers services to children such as in-home family services and the Family Home ProgramSM (treatment foster-care program serving +400 youth annually). In 2015, BTNRH established the Center for Neurobehavioral Research, where she was the first PI to join. Here, Dr. Meffert works on further characterizing empathy deficits in disruptive youth with limited prosocial emotions and varying levels of prior trauma. In particular, her goal has been to understand how you with disruptive behavior respond to others’ distress as a function of prior trauma.


Ph.D. in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.  University Medical Center Groningen and Forensic Psychiatric Clinic Dr. S. van Mesdag. Thesis: ‘Empathy under arrest?’ Promotores: Dr. Christian Keysers and Dr. Johan A. den Boer. Defense 2012.
M.S. in Cognitive Psychology, University of Groningen, Department of Experimental and Work Psychology. Thesis: ‘Effects of Mental Fatigue on Memory Performance’. Grade: 9 (out of 10). Supervisor: Dr. Monicque M. Lorist. 1999 – 2004.
Propaedeutic exam: Chemical Technology, University of Twente. 1995 – 1998.

NIMH publications

  1. Meffert, H., Brislin, S. J., White, S. F., & Blair, J. R. (2014). Prediction errors to emotional expressions: The roles of the amygdala in social referencing. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
  2. Meffert, H., Blanken, L., Blair, K. S., White, S. F., & Blair, J. R. (2013). The influence of valence and decision difficulty on self-referential processing. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 46.
  3. Meffert, H., Hwang, S., Nolan, Z. T., Chen, G., & Blair, J. R. (2016). Segregating attention from response control when performing a motor inhibition task: Segregating attention from response control. NeuroImage, 126, 27–38.
  4. Meffert, H., Hwang, S., Nolan, Z. T., Chen, G., & Blair, J. R. (2016). BOLD data representing activation and connectivity for rare no-go versus frequent go cues. Data in Brief. https://doi-org /10.1016/j.dib.2016.02.011
  5. Blair, R. J. R., White, S. F., Meffert, H., & Hwang, S. (2013). Emotional learning and the development of differential moralities: implications from research on psychopathy. Annals Of The New York Academy Of Sciences, 1299(1), 36–41.
  6. White, S. F., Brislin, S. J., Meffert, H., Sinclair, S., & Blair, R. J. R. (2013). Callous-unemotional traits modulate the neural response associated with punishing another individual during social exchange: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Personality Disorders, 27(SPL.ISS.1), 99–112. White, S. F., Clanton, R., Brislin, S. J., Meffert, H., Hwang, S., Sinclair, S., & Blair, R. J. (2014). Reward: empirical contribution. Temporal discounting and conduct disorder in adolescents. Journal of Personality Disorders, 28(1), 5–18.
  7. White, S. F., Geraci, M., Lewis, E., Leshin, J., Teng, C., Averbeck, B., Meffert, H.,… Blair, K. S. (2016). Prediction Error Representation in Individuals With Generalized Anxiety Disorder During Passive Avoidance. The American Journal of Psychiatry, appiajp201615111410.
Soonjo Hwang, M.D.

Soonjo Hwang, M.D.

Dr. Soonjo Hwang, M.D., joined NIMH in July, 2012 as a clinical fellow working under the supervision of Principal Investigator, Dr. James Bair in the Section on Affective Cognitive Neuroscience (SACN). The SACN’s focus of research was the neurobiological understanding of behavioral/emotional disorders in the pediatric population, especially regarding conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and ADHD.

In 2015, Dr. Hwang accepted a position with the University of Nebraska, Medical Center (UNMC) as an assistant professor where he expanded his research to clinical trials. By combining clinical trials with neuroscientific modalities, including neuroimaging (fMRI and magnetoencephalography), and genetic testing Dr. Hwang hopes to gain a comprehensive understanding of neurocircuitry dysfunction and their response to different interventions. Dr. Hwang is also conducting large-scale data collection on symptom profiles and behavioral data of various neuropsychological tasks for pediatric populations with disruptive mood and behavioral disorders.

Dr. Hwang is currently conducting two clinical trials in children and adolescents with disruptive mood and behavior disorders. One of these trials is a collaboration with Boys Town National Research Hospital, Neurobehavioral Research Center where his former supervisor and mentor, Dr. James Blair now serves as Director. The other clinical trial is an international collaboration project with the Ministry of Education and School of Mental Health Research and Resources Center in South Korea. 


Clinical Fellowship - Section on Affective Cognitive Neuroscience, NIMH, Bethesda, MD
Residency – General Psychiatry at Westchester Medical Center/New York Medical College, NY; Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA
Internship - General Psychiatry at Severance Hospital/Yonsei University, College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea
M.D - Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea
M.B - Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea

Awards (at NIH)

2014 Grant recipient, The Ministry of Education of Republic of Korea.
2013 Training awardee, Fondazione Child. Dr. Hwang attended the “10th International Training Seminar for Junior Investigators in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry” in Bocca di Magra (La Spezia), Italy.

NIMH publications

  1. Soonjo Hwang; Stuart White, Zachary Nolan, Craig Williams, Stephen Sinclair, and James Blair. Dual Neuro-circuitry Dysfunctions in Disruptive Behavior Disorders: Emotional Responding and Response Inhibition. Psychological Medicine Vol 46 (7) pp1485-1496. May, 2016.
  2. Soonjo Hwang; Stuart White, Zachary Nolan, Stephen Sinclair, and James Blair. Executive attention control and emotional responding in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder - A functional MRI study. Neuroimage: Clinical. Vol 9 pp545-554. October 2015.
Michelle Y. Cortes, Ph.D.

Michelle Y. Cortes, Ph.D.

Dr. Michelle Y. Cortes joined the PET Radiopharmaceutical Science Laboratory, Molecular Imaging Branch (MIB) of NIMH as an IRTA Postdoctoral fellow in October 2013, under the supervision of Dr. Victor W. Pike. She earned a B.S. and an M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico. Dr. Cortes holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of South Florida with a research emphasis on the development and evaluation of sigma receptor ligands used as potential post-ischemic stroke therapeutics. Dr. Cortes interest in the detection and progression of neuroinflammatory diseases led her to join the PET Radiopharmaceutical Science Section where her current research involves the development of novel COX-1 and COX-2 imaging agents used for the detection of neuroinflammatory diseases and neuropsychiatric disorders using Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Dr. Cortes has showcased her research presenting her work in various international and national conferences. Recently, she was awarded the Best Poster Award at the American Chemical Society (ACS), National Organic Symposium (NOS). In addition to her research work, Dr. Cortes served as a research mentor in the NIMH Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research (SIP) in her efforts to promote higher education in the biomedical fields. Dr. Cortes was selected as one of 30 professionals to participate at the Linton-Poodry Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Leadership Institute where members from government, industry, and academia gathered at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) headquarters in Washington, DC, Institute to discuss how to promote higher education in the STEM fields in their communities. Dr. Cortes is currently the NIH-SACNAS Chapter president leading the chapter’s planning and execution of the activities to promote professional development, leadership, and wellness, and promotes efforts for dissemination of information and outreach in the DC, MD, and VA areas. Dr. Cortes is leading efforts to promote collaborations within NIH community as well as will other non-profit associations that share SACNAS mission. Under her leadership, the NIH SACNAS Chapter received the recognition of the 2016 SACNAS Professional Chapter of the Year Award at the SACNAS National Conference.


NIMH IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow, PET Radiopharmaceutical Science Laboratory, NIMH, Bethesda, MD
Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida Center of Excellence-Biomolecular Identification of Target Therapeutics Fellowship (FCoe-BITT)
M.S. in Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
B.S. in Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

Awards (at NIH)

2016 SACNAS Professional Chapter of the Year-SACNAS National
2016 Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute
2015 Best Poster Award- 44th National Organic Symposium

NIMH abstracts of publications

  1. Cortes, M.; Singh, P.; Morse, C.; Kowalsky, A.; Shrestha, S.; Jenko, K.; Zoghbi, S.; Fujita, M.; Innis, R.; Pike, V. W. Synthesis of PET radioligands as potential probes for imaging COX-2 in neuroinflammation. J. Nucl. Med. 2015, S3, 1092.
  2. Singh, P.; Cortes, M.; Morse, C.; Jenko K.; Shrestha, S.; Zoghbi, S.; Gladding, R. Fujita, M.; Innis, R.; Pike V.W. [18F]PS-2 as candidate radioligand for imaging COX-1 expression in brain: radiosynthesis and monkey PET imaging. J. Nucl. Med. 2015, S3, 1091.
  3. Cortes, M.; Singh, P.; Morse, C.; Kowalsky, A.; Shrestha, S.; Jenko, K.; Zoghbi, S.; Fujita, M.; Innis, R.; Pike, V.W. Synthesis of a candidate brain-penetrant COX-2 PET radioligand as a potential probe for neuroinflammation. J. Label Compd. Radiopharm. 2015, 58, S312.
  4. Singh, P.; Cortes, M.; Morse, C.; Jenko, K.; Shrestha, S.; Gladding, R.; Fujita, M.; Innis, R. B.; Pike, V. W.; Radiosynthesis and evaluation of [11C]FK881 as a PET radioligand for imaging brain COX-1 in monkey. J. Label Compd. Radiopham. 2015, 58, S055.
Mark J. Niciu, M.D., Ph.D.

Mark J. Niciu, M.D., Ph.D.

Mark J. Niciu, M.D., Ph.D. joined the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch of the NIMH in July 2012, under the supervision of Carlos A. Zarate Jr. M.D. as a clinical fellow. He completed his adult psychiatry residency in the Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP) at Yale University and, during his 4th year, was the program-wide chief resident and chief resident on the Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit. Mark is the lead associate investigator on the following research protocol: “The Neurophysiological Effects of Intravenous Alcohol as Potential Biomarkers of Ketamine’s Rapid Antidepressant Effects in Major Depressive Disorder” ( identifier: NCT02122562). This protocol served as the research plan for Dr. Niciu’s K99R00 “Pathway to Independence” career development award application, which he received and commenced in January 2016. Dr. Niciu has also received a Brain and Behavior Research Foundation/NARSAD Young Investigator award for his collaborative stem cell work with the Laboratory of Neurogenetics in the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA).


Fellowship – Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch (ETPB), NIMH, Bethesda, MD
Residency – Yale University Department of Psychiatry, Neuroscience Research Training Program, New Haven, CT
Medical/Graduate Schools (Medical Scientist Training Program) – University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT
College – Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY

NIMH Publications (3 representatives selected)

  1. Niciu MJ, Luckenbaugh DA, Ionescu DF, Richards EM, Vande Voort JL, Ballard ED, Brutsche NE, Furey ML, Zarate CA Jr (2014) Ketamine’s antidepressant efficacy is extended for at least four weeks in subjects with a  family history of an alcohol use disorder. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 18(1);
  2. Niciu MJ, Luckenbaugh DA, Ionescu DF, Guevara S, Machado-Vieira R, Richards EM, Brutsche NE, Nolan NM, Zarate CA Jr (2014) Clinical predictors of ketamine response in treatment-resistant major depression. J Clin Psychiatry75(5):e417-23;
  3. Niciu MJ, Henter ID, Luckenbaugh DA, Zarate CA Jr, Charney DS (2014) Glutamate receptor antagonists as fast-acting therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of depression: ketamine and other compounds. Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol 54:119-39;
Gioia M. Guerrieri, DO, FAPA

Gioia M. Guerrieri, DO, FAPA

Gioia M. Guerrieri, DO, FAPA, joined the Behavioral Endocrinology Branch of the NIMH in September, 2011, under the supervision of Peter J. Schmidt, MD. She transferred from the Mayo Clinic to the NIMH as an intramural Clinical Research Fellow combined with an ACGME accredited 4th year residency (one of two residents selected for graduating class). She then stayed on to complete her research fellowship. From 2011-2015, Gioia served as an associate investigator on clinical trials in Reproductive Endocrine-Related Mood Disorders (postpartum depression, perimenopause-onset depression, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Her research was focused on 1) mood events surrounding the menopause (normally timed and premature menopause), 2) hormone triggers that elicit stress responsivity in some women and not others, and 3) characteristics of the endocrine trigger in postpartum depression. Gioia gained tremendous skills and expertise at NIMH that serve her well at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and with her private practice. In September, 2015, Gioia joined the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Office of New Drugs, FDA. She provides regulatory medicine expertise as a medical officer and clinical reviewer with the Division of Psychiatry Products. As part of her professional development program, she continues to work with Peter Schmidt in the Behavioral Endocrinology Branch of the NIMH.


Fellowship – Behavioral Endocrinology, NIMH, Bethesda, MD
Residency – Mayo Clinic, School of Graduate Medical Education, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Rochester, MN; Behavioral Endocrinology, NIMH,Bethesda, MD
Internship – Mayo Clinic, School of Graduate Medical Education, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Rochester, MN
Medical School – University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, Biddeford, ME

NIMH patient education on postpartum depression:

NIMH publications

  1. Guerrieri GM, Wakim PG, Keenan PA, Schenkel LA, Berlin K, Gibson CJ, Rubinow DR, Schmidt PJ. Sex differences in visuospatial abilities persist during induced hypogonadism. Neuropsychologia. 81 (2016) 219-229
  2. Schmidt PJ, Ben Dor R, Martinez PE, Guerrieri GM, Harsh VL, Thompson K, Koziol DE, Nieman LK, Rubinow DR. Effects of Estradiol Withdrawal on Mood in Women with Past Perimenopausal Depression. JAMA Psychiatry. June, 2015
  3. Guerrieri GM, Martinez PE, Klug SP, Haq NA, Vanderhoof VH, Koziol K, Popat V, Rubinow DR, Schmidt PJ, Nelson LM. Effects of Physiologic Testosterone Replacement on Quality of Life, Mood, and Self-Esteem in Women with Spontaneous 46, XX Primary Ovarian Insufficiency. Menopause. Vol 21.9 September, 2014
Talakad Goolaiah Lohith, MBBS, MMST, Ph.D.

Talakad Goolaiah Lohith, MBBS, MMST, Ph.D.

Talakad Goolaiah Lohith, MBBS, MMST, Ph.D.
Assoc. Prin. Scientist, Imaging
Translational Biomarkers
Merck Research Laboratories

Research Highlight

Dr. Talakad Lohith joined the Molecular Imaging Branch of NIMH in July 2009 as a post-doctoral visiting fellow under the supervision of Robert B. Innis, who leads development and evaluation of positron emission tomography (PET) ligands for neuroimaging. Dr. Lohith led multiple clinical and preclinical PET neuroimaging projects using novel PET tracers for neuroinflammation and mood disorders. He evaluated preclinical and clinical first-in-human trial of a new opioid receptor target called nociceptin orphanin peptide (NOP) receptor using a novel PET radioligand 11C-NOP-1A. NOP receptors were imaged for the first time in healthy human brain and quantified by kinetic modeling of PET scans. New PET ligands were characterized for imaging and quantification of translocator (TSPO) protein, 5-HT4 receptor and P-gp efflux transporter in vivo in monkey & rodent brain. Dr. Lohith gained immense skills and expertise at NIMH to facilitate new PET molecular imaging tracers for clinical application.

In January 2015, Dr. Lohith became an Associate Principal Scientist in the Imaging Department at Merck & Co., Inc. He provides image analysis expertise as a PET Kinetic Modeler. Dr. Lohith current research focus is to facilitate clinical translation of new drug candidates in Merck therapeutic pipeline using PET imaging for proof-of-concept and proof-of mechanism studies in clinical trials.


Ph.D. in Imaging Sciences, University of Fukui, Fukui, Japan, 2009
MMST in Biomedical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kaharagpur, India, 2004
MBBS in Medicine, Bangalore University, Bangalore, India, 2000

Haochang Shou, Ph.D.

Haochang Shou, Ph.D.

Haochang Shou joined the Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch at NIMH in 2013 as a Pre-Doctoral Visiting Fellow. Under the supervision of Dr. Kathleen Merikangas, she focused on analyzing the accelerometry data from the NIMH Family Study of Affective Spectrum Disorders. There she had the chance to apply her statistical expertise to the novel phenotypical measures collected by wearable computing sensors. She proposed comprehensive statistical modeling approach such as functional data analysis to evaluate the associations between physical activity and mood disorders while acknowledging the high-resolution and real-time data features. Her valuable experience at NIMH has also equipped her with adequate clinical knowledge in mental health.

Haochang is now an Assistant Professor in Biostatistics at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. In addition to her methodological research on multilevel functional and longitudinal data with complex structures, she has been expanding her collaborations in physical activity under various medical conditions. She has also been continuing collaborating with Dr. Merikangas’s research group and plans to integrate multimodal measurements from genetics, neuroimaging and activity in psychiatric settings to obtain better understanding of psychological pathophysiology.


Undergraduate: B.Sc. in Statistics, Peking University, Beijing, China

Graduate: Ph.D. in Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD.

Nancy Lee, Ph.D.

Nancy Lee, Ph.D.

Nancy Raitano Lee is a child clinical psychologist who completed her post-doctoral training in Jay Giedd’s Section on Brain Imaging within the Child Psychiatry Branch of the NIMH. Her research focuses on the cognitive and neuroanatomic correlates of developmental learning disorders. Much of her work has focused on the neuropsychology and neuroanatomy of Down syndrome and sex chromosome aneuploidies. She has also completed research on the neuroanatomic correlates of individual differences in cognitive abilities, such as vocabulary knowledge and executive functioning.

Nancy joined the Psychology department at Drexel University in September as an Assistant Professor. In addition to teaching classes on typical and atypical child development and neuropsychology, she will continue to conduct studies on language, executive, and academic functioning in youth with Down syndrome and other developmental learning disorders. Moreover, she plans to continue collaborating with colleagues in the intramural research program of the NIMH on the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders.


Undergraduate: B.S. with Honors & Distinction in Human Development & Family Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Graduate: MA & PhD: Child Clinical Psychology with Specialization in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Denver, Denver, CO

Peter Rudebeck, Ph.D.

Peter Rudebeck, Ph.D.

Peter Rudebeck is a former NIMH Research Fellow in the Laboratory of Neuropsychology in the Section on Neurobiology of Learning and Memory with Betsy Murray, the Section Chief. Working with Dr Murray at the NIMH his research focused on how interaction between the prefrontal cortex and parts of the limbic system, such as the amygdala, contributes to emotion and cognition. To help support his work he was awarded the Julius Axelrod Memorial Fellowship in 2009.

Before coming to the NIH, Peter obtained his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford, where he investigated the role of the prefrontal cortex in emotion, social behavior and decision-making. He recently joined the Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai located in New York as an Assistant Professor. At the Icahn School of Medicine, Peter’s lab will continue to investigate the neural systems involved in emotion and cognition.  Using a combination of behavioral, neurophysiology and interference techniques his team will specifically focus on investigating the neural pathways implicated in psychiatric disorders, such as depression.

Eugene Dimitrov, Ph.D.

Eugene Dimitrov, Ph.D.

Eugene Dimitrov, Ph.D. research interests are focused on the interdigitation of stress and pain pathways. Dr. Dimitrov,  uses a systemic approach to examine the contribution of subsets of GABAergic neurons in amygdala that co-express different neuropeptides to the generation of affective disorders. He uses transgenic mice lines and technologies such as viral vectors and pharmacogenetics to discover and describe the function of various neurotransmitter systems and their role in the mechanism of pain associated mood disorders.

The postdoctoral training Dr. Dimitrov received in NIMH gave him an extensive experience with a variety of methods and techniques pertinent to neuroscience research. His position as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Ted Usdin’s laboratory expanded Dr. Dimitrov’s scientific expertise by being introduced to different molecular biology techniques, the work with genetically modified animals and other highly novel and innovative methodologies. The breadth and intensity of the scientific projects in Dr. Usdin’s laboratory allowed Dr. Dimitrov to participate in the preparation of eight papers covering somewhat different topics, including neuroendocrinology, neuroanatomy, thermoregulation and nociception. NIMH appointed him as a research fellow after the conclusion of hid five years in postdoctoral training. During his training Dr. Dimitrov  also took the “Grantsmanship Workshop” directed by Dr. Morrison. The grant writing skills that he learned in the course and the opportunity to work in the exceptionally well equipped lab of Dr. Usdin helped him to collect ample and pertinent preliminary data that he used for writing his first R01 grant application.

Dr. Dimitrov was hired as an assistant professor in the department of physiology and biophysics, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, Illinois in 2014.


  1. Dimitrov E., Tsuda,M. and Usdin T. B.  Anxiety- And Depression-Like Behavior and Impaired Neurogenesis Evoked by Peripheral Neuropathy Persist Following Resolution of Prolonged Tactile Hypersensitivity, (2014) J Neuroscience, 10;34(37):12304-12
  2. Dimitrov E. L., Kuo J., Kohno K. and Usdin T. B. Tuberoinfundibular Peptide of 39 Residues Control of Norepinephrine Release in Chronic and Inflammatory Pain, (2013) PNAS, 110(32):13156-61
  3. Dimitrov E. L., Yanagawa, Y. and Usdin T. B. Forebrain GABAergic Projections to Locus Ceruleus in Mouse, (2013) J Comp Neurology, 521 (10):2373
  4. Dimitrov E., Petrus E. and Usdin T. B. Tuberoinfundibular Peptide of 39 residues (TIP39) Signaling Modulates Acute and Tonic Nociception, (2010) Exp Neurology, 226: 68-83
  5. Dobolyi A., Dimitrov E., Palkovits M. and Usdin T.B. The Neuroendocrine Functions of the Parathyroid  Hormone 2 Receptor, (2012) Front Endocrinol (Lausanne), 3(121):1-10
  6. Gao J. L., Schneider E. H., Dimitrov E. L., Haun  F., Pham T. M., Mohammed A. H., Usdin T. B. and Murphy P.M. Reduced Fear Memory  and Anxiety-like  Behavior in Mice Lacking Formylpeptide Receptor 1, (2011) Behav Genetics, 41(5):724-733
  7. Dimitrov E., Kim Y. and Usdin T. Regulation of Hypothalamic Signaling by Tuberoinfundibular Peptide of 39 Residues Is Critical for the Response to Cold: A Novel Peptidergic Mechanism of Thermoregulation, (2011) J Neuroscience, 31(49):18166-11179
  8. Dimitrov E. and Usdin T. B. Tuberoinjundibular Peptide of 39 Residues Modulates the Mouse Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Via Paraventricular Glutamatergic Neurons, (2010) J Camp Neurology, 518(21): 4375-4395
  9. Dimitrov* E., Bag6* A. G., Saunders R., Seress L., Palkovits M., Usdin T. B. and Dobolyi A. Parathyroid  Hormone  2 Receptor and Its Endogenous Ligand Tuberoinjundibular Peptide of 39 Residues are Concentrated in Endocrine, Viscerosecretory and Auditory  Brain Regions in Macaque and Human, (2009) Neuroscience, 162:128-147
  10. Dimitrov E. L., DeJoseph M. R., Brownfield M. S. and Urban J. H. Involvement of Neuropeptide Y Y1 Receptors in the Regulation of Neuroendocrine Corticotropin­ Releasing Hormone Neuronal Activity, (2007) Endocrinology, 148(8): 3666 -3673