First Residents Graduate from Physician-Scientist Research Track in the Department of Psychiatry
Ever since elementary school, M. Mercedes Perez-Rodriguez, MD, PhD, and Panagiotis Roussos, MD, PhD, have excelled in math and science. In middle school, they challenged their teachers to come up with tougher assignments; in high school, they won countless awards and scholarships; and in college, they were accepted into the best research programs and medical schools in Europe. They were always ahead of their time. So it should come as no surprise that Drs. Perez -Rodriguez and Roussos are also the first graduates of the Physician-Scientist Research Track in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
The Physician-Scientist Research Track is designed for residents who have a demonstrated an interest and aptitude for psychiatric research. The program, which began in 2008, has a separate match number in the National Residency Matching Program. As part of the specialized track, residents have protected time for research during each year of residency. Mount Sinai typically accepts two residents per class.
“There is an urgent need in psychiatry to conduct translational research that will help us understand the neurological systems that underlie psychiatric disorders and translate findings in basic science into clinical trials,” says Ronald O. Rieder, MD, Professor of the Psychiatry Residency Program Director and Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Psychiatry. “Drs. Perez-Rodriguez and Roussos’ research achievements and extensive publishing records show that the Physician-Scientist Research Track trains our residents to be exemplary physician-investigators.”
M. Mercedes Perez-Rodriguez, MD, PhD
Dr. Perez-Rodriguez received her medical and doctorate degrees from Spain’s most competitive program — the Autonoma University of Madrid. She joined the Mood and Personality Disorders Research Group in the Department of Psychiatry in July 2008, as one of the two founding members of the Physician-Scientist Research Track. Later, she served as the first Chief Resident for Research. After graduating in July 2012, she accepted a position as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department.
Dr. Perez-Rodriguez’s research focuses on suicidal behaviors, impulsivity, and aggression, primarily in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Currently, she is trying to understand the biological underpinnings of BPD to develop more effective treatments for this disorder. Her goal is to develop an integrated approach towards suicidal behaviors and impulsive aggression that includes neuroimaging, genetics, biological and behavioral markers, and translational studies.
“Since my first year of residency, I have received protected time for research, outstanding mentorship, and been part of a nurturing and intellectually stimulating environment,” she says. “This has made it possible for me to publish 20 papers—three of them as first author—in peer-reviewed scientific journals. I am very proud that I will be continuing my training at Mount Sinai.”
Panagiotis (Panos) Roussos, MD, PhD
Born in Athens, Dr. Roussos received his medical and doctorate degrees from the University of Crete in Greece. He joined the Department of Psychiatry in July 2008, as part of the Physician-Scientist Research Track. As a resident, he published extensively and worked with several leading psychiatrists on pivotal research projects. Recently, he accepted a position as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department.
Dr. Roussos’ research focuses on the genetics of gene expression in schizophrenia. He worked on a project that identified abnormalities in the node of Ranvier in schizophrenia. Recently, as part of another project, he identified abnormalities in the transcriptome of patients with schizophrenia. The results from both of these projects were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, where Dr. Roussos is the first author of both manuscripts. His goal is to integrate multiple high-throughput data sets and identify molecular changes in schizophrenia. He also works with the Mood and Personality Disorders research group and was a co-investigator on a grant proposal that will examine the effect of genetic variants in patients with schizotypal personality disorder.
“I am so grateful that I was able to train in the United States under the expert leadership at Mount Sinai,” says Dr. Roussos. “It is because of this unique program that I was able to unite my neuroscience research interests with psychiatric disorders, and conduct my clinical training in psychiatry at the same time.”