Trainees

Andrew Browne, BSc, is a neuroscience PhD student studying the role of mitochondrial genetics in psychiatric illness and stem cell differentiation. Under the collaborative mentorship of Drs. Joseph Buxbaum and Anne Schaefer, he is working with human fibroblasts from healthy and schizophrenic patients and studying the changes in mitochondrial DNA between different groups and over the course of stem cell reprogramming.

Jocelyn Curchack-Lichtin, MA, is completing her clinical internship with the Seaver Autism Center and the ADHD Service of Mount Sinai. She conducts evaluations and treatment as part of our research and clinical programs.  She earned her bachelor’s from Vassar College and is completing her PhD in Clinical Psychology: Neuropsychology at the City University of New York. She is particularly interested in the ways in which our understanding of neurodevelopment and the biological underpinnings of developmental disorders can be applied to improve assessment and treatment.

Silvia De Rubeis, PhD, is a Seaver Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry. She received her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’ in 2009 and completed her first postdoctoral training in the Center for Human Genetics at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. She investigates the functions of the chromatin-remodeling factor CHD8 during neurodevelopment to understand how mutations of this gene contribute to autism.

Aslihan Dincer, MSc, is a Seaver Graduate Fellow and a PhD student in the Department of Genetics and Genomics Sciences at Mount Sinai. She graduated from Bogazici (Bosphorous) University in Istanbul, Turkey with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering. Since joining Mount Sinai, she has been working under the supervision of Dr. Schahram Akbarian, focusing on epigenomics and genetic risk architecture of neurodevelopmental disorders. The overall goal of her research is to understand the molecular basis of autism and related psychiatric disorders through robust computational and statistical methods to analyze and interpret genome-scale datasets for the transcriptome and epigenome of the normal and diseased human brain.

Elodie Drapeau, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow and neurobiologist in the Department of Psychiatry and the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai. She uses skin and blood samples from patients with schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders, as well as healthy controls, to generate human induced pluripotent stem cells. Those cells are then differentiated into large quantities of live neurons that can be compared to identify the differences between healthy and diseased neurons.

Aliza Feldman, MA, is a psychology extern at the Seaver Autism Center and a third-year doctoral candidate in the PsyD program at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University. Prior to working at the Seaver Center, she has worked in the counseling center at Brooklyn College, where she provided long-term individual psychodynamic treatment for college students and at Holliswood Hospital, where she led psycho-educational groups on the adult inpatient unit. She has also had extensive training in the cognitive-behavioral therapy at the Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy and at her school clinic. She is currently working on her dissertation, which focuses on stigma and mental health among sexual minority men.

Nancy Francoeur, MSc, is a Seaver Graduate Fellow and a PhD student in the Genetics and Genomic Sciences training area at Mount Sinai. She received a Master’s degree at New York University where she focused her coursework on Genomics and Bioinformatics, and she completed her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Boston University. Under the supervision of Dr. Dalila Pinto, she is working to combine molecular and computational approaches to elucidate the gene regulatory networks in neurodevelopmental disorders that can be affected by single point mutations and/or copy number variants, with a focus on autism spectrum disorders.

Hala Harony-Nicolas, PhD, is a Seaver Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She received her PhD in Molecular Biology at the Technion Institute of Israel in 2008 and did her first postdoctoral training in the Laboratory for Neurobiology of Social Behavior at the University of Haifa, Israel. Through her research she aims to understand the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). For this purpose she is characterizing the first genetically modified rat model for ASD, the Shank3-deficient rat. By applying electrophysiological, biochemical and molecular approaches she aims to investigate the effect of the Shank3-deficiency on synaptic function and plasticity and to identify the disrupted signaling pathways within brain regions relevant to autism. The long-term goal of her study is to define molecular and cellular components that could be targeted for developing therapeutic agents for SHANK3 deficiencies and ASD more broadly.

Karim Ibrahim, MS, is a clinical psychology trainee at the Seaver Autism Center. Karim completed his undergraduate training in Psychology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University, and his graduate training in Molecular and Cell Biology at Quinnipiac University. Currently, he is a doctoral student at the University of Hartford. His research interests are community-based interventions for individuals with autism and understanding neurobiological changes in the brain following therapy. Under the supervision of Drs. Danielle Halpern and Michelle Gorenstein-Holtzman, Karim provides individual and group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to target socialization, coping skills and emotion regulation.  Karim’s dissertation research at the Seaver Autism Center, under the guidance of Dr. Ting Wang, examines changes in neural activity and social cognition following a CBT social skills treatment. By applying fMRI approaches, the study explores whether children with autism will show more normative activity in brain regions important for emotion processing.

Adam Joy, PsyD, currently holds the joint F.E.G.S and Seaver Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Seaver Autism Center. He is a recent graduate of Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology in Los Angeles, and he received his undergraduate psychology degree from Michigan State University. Dr. Joy completed his internship at The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) where he provided a range of psychological assessments and one-on-one therapy to children with developmental disorders, such as ASD. During his graduate studies, Dr. Joy developed extensive experience providing psychological services to families with ASD. He is a part of the research team and is leading programming for F.E.G.S.

Yuji Kajiwara, PhD, is a molecular biologist who studies the role of caspase-4 during the neuroinflammation using a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. In collaboration with Kirsten Sadler-Edepli lab, he uses zebrafish to recapitulate the neurodevelopmental role of genes suggested to increase the risk of developing psychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and Tourette syndrome.

Rachel Kavanaugh, BA, is a PsyD extern at the Seaver Autism Center. She is a student in the School-Clinical Child Psychology program at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.  Since joining Seaver, she has been working under the supervision of Dr. Danielle Halpern.

Yan Kou, MSc, is a Seaver Graduate Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai, working under the supervision of Drs. Avi Ma'ayan and Joseph Buxbaum. She is interested in developing and applying systems biological methods to complex human disorders.

Teresa Tavassoli, PhD, Seaver Postdoctoral Fellow at the Seaver Autism Center, completed her psychology training in Germany at the University of Constance before finishing her PhD at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Dr. Tavassoli’s research interests include sensory perception in autism and its variation across the entire population. Using sensory assessments, she is trying to identify robust sensory phenotypes as well as using fMRI to elucidate underlying neural mechanisms.

Neha Uppal, BS, is a neuroscience PhD student at Mount Sinai. She has been a Seaver Graduate Fellow since 2010 and conducts research on the histopathological effects of autism on the human brain. Neha is currently working under the supervision of Dr. Patrick Hof, focusing on quantitatively characterizing the cytoarchitectural changes in implicated areas of the brain in patients with autism. She has recently published an article on the first aim of her neuropathology work. In addition, she is assessing whether there are differences at the synaptic level in a mouse model of autism.

Paige M. Weinger, PhD, is a Seaver Postdoctoral Fellow at the Seaver Autism Center and a recipient of the Autism Speaks Meixner Translational Research Postdoctoral Fellowship. She graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science and earned her PhD in clinical psychology from Yeshiva University. Paige spent three years at the Seaver Center as a psychology extern prior to her clinical internship at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Her research focuses on visual processing in children with autism spectrum disorder and unaffected siblings using a type of brainwave measurement known as a Visual Evoked Potential (VEP). Paige is currently using VEPs to identify biological markers of ASD. She also provides neuropsychological evaluations and individual therapy as part of the Seaver Center’s clinical program.

Megan E. Young, PhD, is a Seaver Postdoctoral Fellow, and she received her PhD in Neuroscience from Mount Sinai in 2013. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience and Physics from Johns Hopkins University, where her research was focused on the construction of microdialysis probes for use in measuring dopamine concentrations in the dentate nucleus of the cerebellum during dystonic episodes in the Tottering mouse model of dystonia. Her doctoral research was focused on the measurement of spine density and morphology using confocal microscopy, and the quantification of synapse density and post-synaptic density length using serial-section electron microscopy. Working with Matthew Shapiro, PhD, Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai, she will investigate the effects of the SHANK3 mutation on neural coding by frontal and temporal cortex.


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Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Department of Psychiatry
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