IMPACT Fellowship Research Training Faculty
The IMPACT (Innovative Methods in Pathogenesis and Child Treatment) program is led by Tina Goldstein, PhD (Director) and David Brent, MD (Co-Director), together with Executive Committee Members Boris Birmaher, MD; Neal Ryan, MD; and David Kolko, PhD, ABPP. Additional faculty from multiple departments serve as fellowship mentors (both pre- and post-doctoral). Research conducted by IMPACT faculty can be divided into three broad focus areas: Pathogenesis/Clinical Neuroscience, Developmental Longitudinal Perspectives, and Treatment Evaluation, Dissemination and Implementation. More information on faculty focus areas and research activities can be found below.
Methods: fMRI, Genetics, Epigenetics, EEG, fINRS
- Lauren Bylsma, PhD
- Bernie Devlin, PhD
- Erika Forbes, PhD
- Peter Franzen, PhD
- Judith Morgan, PhD
- Mary Phillips, MD, MD (Cantab)
- Beatriz Luna, PhD
- Greg Siegle, PhD
- Kymberly Young, PhD
Developmental Longitudinal Perspectives
Methods: Longitudinal Studies, Statistical Modeling
- Boris Birmaher, MD
- David Brent, MD
- Lauren Bylsma, PhD
- Tina Goldstein, PhD
- Alison Hipwell, PhD, ClinPsyD
- Satish Iyengar, PhD
- Heather Joseph, DO
- Maria Kovacs, PhD
- Oliver Lindhiem, PhD
- Nadine Melhem, PhD
- Brooke Molina, PhD
- Caroline Oppenheimer, PhD
- Stephanie Stepp, PhD
- Brian Thoma, PhD
Treatment Evaluations, Dissemination and Implementation
Methods: Treatment Development/Efficacy, Barriers of Care, Optimization, Personalization
- David Brent, MD
- Patricia Documet, MD, DrPH
- Shaun Eack, PhD
- Tina Goldstein, PhD
- Heather Joseph, DO
- David Kolko, PhD, ABPP
- Oliver Lindhiem, PhD
- Carla Mazefsky, PhD
- Stephanie Stepp, PhD
Training Executive Committee
Program Director Tina Goldstein, PhD
Dr. Goldstein is Associate Professor of Psychiatry. Her clinical and research interests focus on understanding the etiology and treatment for youth with, and at-risk for, mood disorders and suicide. Her work aims to develop improved prevention and intervention strategies for this population informed by an enhanced understanding of the relationship between biological and psychosocial determinants of mood disorder and suicide. Her research program is supported by grant funding from federal and private foundations including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). She is the author of over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters on the topics of suicidality and mood disorders in youth and is co-author of a book on the treatment of depressed and suicidal youth. She serves as the Co-Director of the WPH pre-doctoral internship program, is a faculty member and mentor for the NIH-funded Career Development Institutes for both Bipolar Disorder and Psychiatry, and has been a clinical and research mentor for undergraduate, graduate, pre-doctoral, postdoctoral, and medical resident trainees. Her role as a mentor has been recognized with both the Department of Psychiatry Mentorship Award and the Postdoctoral Mentor Award from the University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Association. Her scientific contributions have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Klerman Young Investigator Award from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
Program Co-Director David Brent, MD
Dr. Brent is Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Epidemiology, Academic Chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Endowed Chair in Suicide Studies. He has served as Program Director since 1994, and beginning in 2020, he now serves as Program Co-Director. He received post-doctoral training in psychiatric epidemiology at WPH from 1982-1985. Dr. Brent has been funded by NIMH continuously since 1985. His areas of expertise are epidemiology, nosology, family studies, treatment development, and clinical trials, with a clinical emphasis on suicide and mood disorders. He has conducted work on the psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy of depression, as well as case-control, genetic, and longitudinal studies related to suicide. His current work focuses on the uses of modern computational approaches (e.g., machine learning) and technology-supported interventions to assess and attenuate suicidal risk. His work has been recognized with awards from NARSAD, the AFSP, the APA, the AACAP, and the JED Foundation. Dr. Brent also directs the Services for Teens At-Risk (STAR) clinic, which is a specialty clinic serving youth and their families with depression, anxiety, or who are at risk for suicidal behavior.
Pathogenesis/Clinical Neuroscience Training Core Director Neal Ryan, MD
Dr. Ryan is the Joaquim Puig-Antich Professor in Child Psychiatry. He served as the Director of Education for the Department of Psychiatry for over two decades. Dr. Ryan has directed a large Program Project, “Neurobehavioral Changes in Pediatric Affective Disorder” (MH41712), followed by a CIDAR grant, “Transdisciplinary Studies of CBT for Anxiety in Youth” (MH080215), and is a co-PI and co-investigator on a number of other NIMH studies of the course, treatment, neurobiology, and genetics of mood and anxiety disorders in children. He has been recognized by NAMI for his work. He directs the Child Intervention, Prevention, and Services (CHIPS) program, a summer research institute focused on child intervention, prevention, and services research that provides training complementary to this T3.
Treatment Evaluation, Dissemination and Implementation Training Core Director David Kolko, PhD, ABPP
Dr. Kolko is a Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, Pediatrics, and Clinical and Translational Science. He directs the Special Services Unit at Western Psychiatric Hospital, a treatment research program for children/youth referred by the Juvenile Justice or Child Welfare systems. Dr. Kolko’s grant funding has been directed towards the study and treatment of disruptive disorders, childhood firesetting, juvenile sexual offending, and child physical abuse/family conflict, as well as the dissemination and implementation of integrated collaborative behavioral health care models in pediatric practice. He has been an investigator on effectiveness or implementation trials designed to disseminate cognitive-behavioral and family-system treatments for youth involved as victims or offenders of violent/aggressive behavior to practitioners in various service settings including primary care, juvenile justice, child welfare, and mental health. He is in his 32nd year as a core faculty member on the Pre-Doctoral Clinical Psychology Internship Committee, is a member of the Psychology Discipline Committee at WPH, and routinely supervises/mentors undergraduate/honor’s students, graduate students, residents, post-doctoral fellows, and local faculty. Given his membership on the pediatric subcommittee of the University of Pittsburgh IRB, Dr. Kolko has been able to train and mentor students in both the clinical and research underpinnings of treatment outcome and implementation research studies.
Developmental Longitudinal Perspective Training Core Director Boris Birmaher, MD
Dr. Birmaher is a Professor of Psychiatry, holds an Endowed Chair in Early Onset Bipolar Disease, and is an expert on the psychopharmacology and neurobiology of early-onset mood and anxiety disorders. He has been a Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on several major, multi-site clinical trials, including the Child/Adolescent Anxiety Multimodal Study (CAMS), Treatment of Early-onset Mania (TEAM), and Treatment of Resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA). Dr. Birmaher currently leads two longitudinal (20 years) NIMH-funded projects on bipolar disorders, two of which are on phenomenology and course (Course and Outcome for Adolescents with Bipolar Illness) and one on familial transmission (Children of Bipolar Parents: A High-Risk Follow-Up Study). He is the Director of the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Services Clinic (CABS). He has won the Golden Apple Award for the Best Faculty Teacher of Residents twice, has won several prestigious awards, was the Program Director of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, and now he is a board member of this association. He recently was named Distinguished Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr Birmaher has published over 450 papers in peer-review journals and numerous book chapters. Also, he has taught and mentored numerous residents and research fellows from US and other countries clinically and in research.
Lauren Bylsma, PhD
Dr. Bylsma is a clinical psychologist with expertise in experimental psychopathology and naturalistic approaches to investigating emotional processing and regulation in depression. Her work utilizes a multi-method longitudinal approach to assess affective dysfunction in depression, including affective neural processing (ERPs), cardiovascular psychophysiological responses to stress, affective behavior, and daily life emotional functioning in adolescents and adults. She began a T32 fellowship in the IMPACT program in 2012 and joined the faculty in 2014 after receiving a K01 to investigate neurobehavioral indices of emotional processing and regulation associated with familial depression risk in adolescents. Currently, Dr. Bylsma is PI of a NARSAD Award investigating gut microbiome characteristics in youth at risk for depression in relation to autonomic stress regulation and neural reward processing, and Co-I on two R01s utilizing ambulatory psychophysiology to examine emotion regulation in adults with distress disorders and threat dysregulation in adolescents at risk for psychosis. Dr. Bylsma has regularly mentored undergraduates, graduate students, residents, interns, and postdoctoral fellows. Clinically, she serves as Co-Director of the Center for Advanced Psychotherapy (CAP) and Assistant Director of the HOPE TEAM, where she provides clinical supervision in CBT for mood and anxiety disorders and psychosis risk in adults and adolescents.
Bernie Devlin, PhD
Dr. Devlin’s research has two foci: development of statistical methods for and analysis of data from large-scale genetic studies. He is an active teacher and consultant, serves regularly on PhD committees, and has mentored multiple pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellows, as well as K-awardees. He is a Fellow of the Statistics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for contributions to modeling genetic data.
Patricia Documet, MD, DrPH
Dr. Documet is the Latinx Research and Outreach Director at the Center for Health Equity. She uses community-based participatory research to study barriers to care and utilization, including the role of social networks in accessing and adhering to medical and mental health care, with a special emphasis on Latinx immigrants. She is an experienced pre-doctoral mentor.
Shaun Eack, PhD
Dr. Eack is the James and Noel Browne Endowed Chair and Professor of Social Work and Psychiatry. His primary interests include the development, implementation, and evaluation of psychosocial treatment methodologies to improve the care of people with schizophrenia and related disorders. Dr. Eack is currently the Principal Investigator of two NIH-funded projects focusing on cognitive enhancement therapy among individuals with schizophrenia and also autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Eack also directs the Center for Interventions to Enhance Community Health, a unique collaboration between Social Work and Psychiatry to improve the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices in community mental health.
Erika Forbes, PhD
Dr. Forbes’ research focuses on the role of neural reward systems in the development, pathophysiology, and treatment of depression and related problems during adolescence. She uses multi-method techniques for assessing positive affect and reward, including fMRI, transcranial magnetic stimulation, behavior observation, computer-task performance, and ecological momentary assessment. She investigates social and monetary forms of reward, with both standardized (e.g., photos from stimulus sets) and personalized (e.g., friends) stimuli. Currently, she is a mentor for 5 undergraduates, two post-doctoral fellows, and one K01 awardees, and she directs the Career Development Institute for Psychiatry. She has an especially strong record for mentoring trainees from under-represented groups.
Peter Franzen, PhD
Dr. Franzen’s research program strives to understand how sleep is so important for emotional functioning and mental health, with a particular focus on adolescents. His studies have employed experimental sleep restriction studies to examine causal impacts of sleep loss on emotional processes and neural systems underlying positive and negative emotion using fMRI. He is also conducting a longitudinal study in adolescents to see how changing sleep duration and neural systems jointly predict increases in depression and suicidal thinking. In collaboration with Dr. Goldstein, he also examines the prospective association between sleep health and suicidality in ultra-high risk adolescents and college students.
Satish Iyengar, PhD
Dr. Iyengar is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Statistics. He has collaborated with many child psychiatry faculty members on their grants and papers. He has extensive experience mentoring pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees. He participates in the assessment of trainees’ needs for additional training in statistics, in seminars, assists trainees in the preparation of the statistics and data analysis sections of their grant proposals, and consults on data analysis for the trainees’ publications and presentations. In addition, Dr. Iyengar has particular expertise and experience in the statistical issues involved in the design of clinical trials, the analysis of complex nested data (such as ecological momentary activity), missing data, familial data, and longitudinal data.
Alison Hipwell, PhD, ClinPsyD
Dr. Hipwell’s program of research includes prospective studies of reproductive mental health and effects on offspring neurodevelopment, and elucidation of developmental precursors and mechanisms of risk for affective symptoms across childhood and adolescence. This work, spanning 30 years, integrates multiple levels of development, both within individuals and across generations, with the goal of informing targets for early prevention of clinical and functional impairments in mothers and their children. Currently active studies include the influence of maternal preconception stress exposure on infant emotion regulation and neurodevelopment (UH3 OD023244); examination of infant neural markers of emotion reactivity and dysregulation in the context of caregiving (MH106570, MH115466), and a trial of prenatal omega-3 supplementation on maternal and infant health (HD058269, HD084586).
Heather Joseph, DO
Dr. Joseph is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who completed the IMPACT post–doctoral training program in 2019. Her research examines early signals of inattention in newborns, infants, and toddler at high-risk for ADHD. She is interested in the development of attention and identifying modifiable environmental (i.e. parenting behaviors) factors to reduce prevalence of ADHD and other disruptive behavior disorders.
Maria Kovaks, PhD
Dr. Kovacs has been conducting longitudinal research across the lifespan on risk factors for and consequences of juvenile-onset depressive (mood) disorders. Her work has involved multiple generations ranging from very young children to middle-age adults. Her studies have targeted dysfunctional emotion regulation/mood repair as a potent risk factor for depressive disorders and explored the ways in which aspects of autonomic nervous system functioning enhance or constrain mood repair in individuals at high-risk and low–risk for depression. Her focus on mood repair has led to the development of a psychotherapeutic intervention for young depressed children, which seeks to improve sadness regulation skills. Dr. Kovacs has been mentor to numerous early-career scientists over the years, several of who have become colleagues at WPIC (e.g., Drs. Brent, Forbes, Silk, and Bylsma).
Oliver Lindhiem, PhD
Dr. Lindhiem’s research focuses on evidence-based assessment and integrating technology with mental health services. Dr. Lindhiem graduated from this T32 training program, has received continuous funding from NIMH since 2011, and has successfully mentored pre- and post-doctoral students. Current projects include LemurDx and Screening Wizard. LemurDx (a collaboration with CMU and NuRelm) is a software system for smartwatches that uses sensors and machine learning (ML) algorithms to measure hyperactivity in children with ADHD. Screening Wizard (SW) is an ongoing project that is part of an P50 Center Grant (PI: David Brent) that seeks to increase the rate of appropriate referrals by primary care providers for adolescents who screen positive for depression or suicidal ideation.
Beatriz Luna, PhD
Dr. Luna is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist who uses multimodal brain imaging to understand neurocognitive changes through adolescence in normative populations informing the emergence of psychiatric disorders. For her outstanding and innovative research, she was recognized by the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering in 2005.
Carla Mazesfky, PhD
Dr. Mazefsky is a licensed clinical psychologist specialized in research on emotion regulation and associated emotional and behavioral concerns in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her research involves investigations of the mechanisms underlying emotion regulation in ASD and the development of new assessment and treatment approaches. Current studies span the age ranges of school-aged children through adults and include both those who are severely affected (e.g., nonverbal, have intellectual disability, and severe challenging behavior) and those who are verbal with average or better cognitive ability. She is currently leading several measure development studies and clinical trials.
Nadine Melhem, PhD
Dr. Melhem’s background is in psychiatric epidemiology and statistical genetics, and her research focuses on the neurobiology of stress response and suicide across the spectrum of psychopathology. She has extensive experience in conducting longitudinal studies and applying advanced modeling techniques characterizing offspring of parents with mood disorder and their increased risk for suicidal behavior; studying the impact of parental bereavement and parental cancer diagnosis on children’s biological responses to stress and future risk for psychopathology; and looking at the HPA axis and inflammatory pathways at the peripheral and the brain levels using PET imaging in acutely suicidal patients. Her work is the first to characterize the phenomenology of grief in children and to develop an instrument and a screen to assess and monitor grief reactions in children; to identify a distinct HPA axis profile in suicide attempters compared to other high-risk subjects; to characterize variability in depression symptoms as predictors for suicide attempt; and develop a prediction risk score for suicide attempt. She has also participated in the study of the genetics of several brain phenotypes. She is the Principal investigator of 3 NIMH R01 grants and has been the recipient of 2 R21s and a K01 award from NIMH, and several young investigator awards from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (NARSAD), the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation, and the Pittsburgh Foundation.
Brooke Molina, PhD
Dr. Molina is a leading expert on longitudinal study design and analysis, and focuses on the multifactorial etiology, course, outcomes and treatment of ADHD and substance abuse. She also conducts research in primary care focused on the prevention of misuse and diversion of abusable prescription medications. She has received multiple mentoring awards and has mentored many trainees who have gone on to have successful careers as investigators..
Judith Morgan, PhD
Dr. Morgan is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. Dr. Morgan evaluates developmental mechanisms involved in the intergenerational transmission of depression. She utilizes multimodal neuroimaging, psychophysiological assessments, and behavioral observations to test how parental care may influence brain and social development in infants and young children with a family history of depression.
Caroline Oppenheimer, PhD
Dr. Oppenheimer has training and expertise in the role of interpersonal risk in the development of mood disorders and suicide risk in adolescents. Her recent focus is on the role of aberrant neural processing of social threat, particularly social rejection, in the development of self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs) in youth. Her current NIMH-funded K01 Career Development award incorporates fMRI measures of social rejection processing with assessments of real-world peer rejection experiences to predict development of suicidal ideation and behavior among adolescents. She recently received an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Young Investigator Award in collaboration with experts in pain processing in the anesthesiology department. The main goal of this study is to examine the extent to which altered neural function in networks common to both social rejection processing and pain may be associated with non-suicidal self-injurious (NSSI) behavior, one of the strongest predictors of suicidal behavior. She is also currently a lead on a University of Pittsburgh funded pilot study to assess for adolescent neural response to peer rejection via social media.
Mary Phillips, MD, MD (Cantab)
Dr. Phillips ’ research focuses on using multimodal neuroimaging techniques to elucidate functional and structural abnormalities in emotion processing, reward processing and emotional regulation circuitries that are associated with symptom dimensions of mood and anxiety disorders. She has mentored over 60 junior investigators, including being mentor to 12 K awardees, has extensive national and international collaborations, and has authored or co-authored more than 300 publications.
Greg Siegle, PhD
Dr. Siegle studies the mechanisms of response to psychotherapies, medications, and neurobehavioral interventions for depression. He has mentored a number of post-doctoral fellows, including those who went on to receive K-awards, graduate students, and undergraduates.
Stephanie Stepp, PhD
Dr. Stepp has research interests in risk factors for the development of borderline personality disorder in children and adolescents. She is also interested in statistical methods to model longitudinal data and improve assessment instruments. She has served as mentor for multiple successful post-doctoral fellows (e.g. Lori Scott, PhD) and graduate students
Brian Thoma, PhD
Dr. Thoma’s program of research examines the mental and behavioral health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. He is a licensed psychologist, and his work focuses on risk for suicidal behavior and prevention of HIV-related sexual risk behaviors among LGBT adolescents. He is currently the Principal Investigator of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study biological mechanisms of suicidal behavior among sexual minority adolescents, and his recent work has examined mental health disparities between transgender and cisgender youth.
Kymberly Young, PhD
Dr. Young’s research focuses on understanding onset and recovery from emotional disorders, and on developing new neuroscience-derived behavioral treatments, including real-time fMRI neurofeedback. Using behavioral, physiological (EEG, galvanic skin response, heart rate, respiration), and functional imaging methods, she seeks to understand the physiological mechanisms of emotional information and autobiographical memory processing with the ultimate goal of developing techniques that allow individuals to modify these mechanisms directly. She is involved in mentoring post-doctoral fellows, K01 awardees, graduate, and undergraduate students.