Meet the Team

Rita Z. Goldstein, PhD, Chief
Dr. Goldstein is a Professor of Psychiatry with a secondary appointment in the Department of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) in NY. Dr. Goldstein is chief of the Brain Imaging Center (BIC) at ISMMS; she also directs the NARC (Neuropsychoimaging of Addiction and Relat ed Conditions) research group that uses multimodality functional neuroimaging methods to explore the neurobiological basis of impaired cognitive and emotional functioning in human drug addiction and other disorders of self-control. An important application of this research is to facilitate the development of intervention modalities that would improve treatment outcome in drug addiction and other chronically relapsing disorders of self-regulation. Nationally and internationally known for her neuroimaging and neuropsychological studies in drug addiction, Dr. Goldstein formulated a theoretical model known as Impaired Response Inhibition and Salience Attribution (iRISA). The model uses multiple neuroimaging modalities—including MRI, EEG/ERP, PET—and neuropsychological tests to explore the neurobiological underpinnings of iRISA in drug addiction and related conditions. Dr. Goldstein became fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) in January 2015, receiving the prestigious Joel Elkes Research Award in 2012 and the Jacob P. Waletzky Award in 2013.

Nelly Alia-Klein, PhD, Co-Chief
Dr. Nelly Alia-Klein is an Associate Professor at the Medical School. Dr. Alia-Klein received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University, New York City, in 2002 followed by an internship at Hillside Hospital in adult psychology. She completed a three-year post-doctorate in neuroimaging of addiction at Brookhaven National Laboratory T32 training program. Dr. Alia-Klein’s research interests concentrate on gene-brain-behavior mechanisms underlying violent behaviors and drug addiction. She has both the expertise and clinical experience to conduct innovative and integrated basic and clinical translational research studies that aim to elucidate complex psychopathology.

Scott J. Moeller, PhD
Dr. Moeller is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Medical School. He received his PhD in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 2010, where he studied conscious and unconscious determinants of behavioral and emotional self-control and how these concepts could be applied to substance abuse. He then completed a NIDA-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brookhaven National Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Rita Goldstein and moved with her research team to Mount Sinai in 2013. His current research uses sensitive neuroimaging and behavioral measures, developed in-house, to address why, despite catastrophic life consequences, drug-addicted individuals often underestimate their own drug use problems and need for treatment. He is also collaborating with genomic scientists at Mount Sinai to potentially discover novel genetic variants that contribute to or exacerbate brain structural abnormalities in cocaine addiction. These current projects are funded by NIDA R21 and K01 grants, respectively.

A representative collection of Dr. Moeller’s past and recent work is available here.

Muhammad A. Parvaz, PhD
Muhammad A. Parvaz is an Assistant Professor in the department of Psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Stony Brook University (Advisor: Dr. Rita Goldstein) and subsequently completed a NIDA-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brookhaven National Lab and at ISMMS (Mentor: Dr. Rita Goldstein). Dr. Parvaz’s research focuses on using multimodal neuroimaging techniques (EEG and MRI) to study reward sensitivity (both drug- and non-drug-related) and emotion dysregulation in drug addiction. Currently, his research involves studying craving induced by drug-related cues in individuals with substance use disorders seeking treatment and developing and testing an EEG-assisted cognitive intervention to alleviate negative affect in cocaine addiction based on real time neurofeedback training. Dr. Parvaz is also interested in studying brain processes in adolescents experimenting with illicit drugs to gain insight into why some occasionally drug-using youth become addicted to drugs while others do not. 

An extended bibliography of Dr. Parvaz’s work is available here.

Anna Zilverstand, PhD
A postdoctoral fellow at NARC, Dr. Zilverstand  received her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University, Netherlands, in 2014, studying cognitive control in anxiety, and attention hyperactivity deficit disorder. During her PhD (Advisor: Rainer Goebel), she implemented real-time fMRI neurofeedback training for both clinical groups, being funded by the BrainGain Smart Mix Program of the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science. Prior to her PhD, Anna completed a two-year Research Master’s Program in Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience, and a Bachelor of Psychology at Maastricht University, graduating with distinction. During her studies, she focused on functional imaging and EEG methods for studying clinical populations and worked as a research coordinator on these topics. Her current focus is studying cognitive control in addiction and aggression, and establishing real-time fMRI and EEG neurofeedback training to enhance cognitive control in clinical populations.

Keren Bachi, PhD
As a NIDA T32 postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Bachi is training in the Interdisciplinary program in Neuroimaging, and Pharmacology of Drug Abuse at NARC and the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics. Dr. Bachi’s interests pertain to the long-term systemic impact of drug addiction, the contribution of environmental elements to the addictive cycle, and the underlying brain networks subserving these symptoms. Her current research projects are: reduced prefrontal cortical structural integrity as a marker of premorbid childhood trauma in cocaine addiction; atherosclerosis in cocaine addiction: imaging risk with PET/MR; and characterizing mentalization with fMRI and its associations with inflammation markers in cocaine addiction. Additionally, Dr. Bachi, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), is working to bridge research in neuroscience and the clinical practice by offering a social and environmental perspective in drug addiction. Dr. Bachi received her PhD in Social Welfare from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, studying recidivism, disciplinary misconduct, and emotion regulation outcomes of an equine-facilitated, prison-based program. Dr. Bachi’s prior experience is with individual and group treatment, and a range of clinical and managerial roles.

Rachel Rabin, PhD
Rachel Rabin, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow at NARC. She received her Master’s and PhD degrees in Medical Science at the University of Toronto, where her research focused on the cognitive neuroscience of addictions and comorbid psychiatric illnesses. More specifically, her graduate projects investigated the clinical and neurocognitive effects of chronic cannabis use in patients with schizophrenia using both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. Currently, Dr. Rabin is interested in employing neuroimaging techniques to foster a better understanding of how environmental, behavioral, and cognitive factors affect craving and relapse in cocaine using individuals. In addition, she is interested in advancing potential pharmacotherapies that would facilitate abstinence and improve treatment outcomes in those suffering from addictive disorders. Dr. Rabin is the recipient of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Postdoctoral Fellowship. 

Sivan Kinreich, PhD
Sivan Kinreich, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow. She received her PhD in Psychology at Tel Aviv University, Israel, in 2014. Her PhD (Advisor: Talma Hendler, co-mentor: Nathan Intrator) research areas include emotion regulation, stress, and relaxation and the implementation of combined fMRI and EEG, EEG-neurofeedback and fMRI-neurofeedback. She completed a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, in 2016 under the direction of Prof. Ruth Feldman. Projects focused on EEG hyper scanning of social interaction between partners. Dr. Kinreich is interested in understanding the human brain’s ability to self-modulate in order to increase performance and overcome abnormalities. Her background also includes substantial experience in both software engineering (over eight years) and hands on experience in a wide range of imaging research (10 years).

Pias Malaker, BS
A recent graduate from the Biomedical Engineering program at Stony Brook University, Pias works with the NARC group as a Data Entry Specialist, responsible for database management and development. Pias intends to pursue his medical degree to become a surgeon.

Jameson Mitchell
Jameson Mitchell joined NARC in June 2016 after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with BAs in Psychology-Neuroscience-Philosophy and Spanish. At WashU, Jameson worked in Dr. Deanna Barch’s Cognitive Control and Psychopathology lab researching depression and negative symptomology in patients with schizophrenia. Here at Mount Sinai, she is the clinical research coordinator of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. In this role, Jameson hopes to explore the intersection of prodromal psychosis and substance use in adolescents. In the future, she plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology, using fMRI methodology to study psychosis and its neural basis.

Felicia Valletta
Felicia Valletta is a recruiter and clinical research coordinator for the ABCD study abcdstudy.org. She received her BS in Biology from Fairfield University. She has advanced doctoral graduate study in the Brain, Behavior, and Cognition subprogram at CUNY. During her time in graduate school, she investigated episodic future thinking and memory using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Recently, Felicia worked as a child assessor for the Making Pre-K Count Study. In her free time, she volunteers with Know Science, an international education and advocacy organization working to promote knowledge of science and scientific research to a non-specialized audience, as the events coordinator.

Anita Kalaj, MA
Anita Kalaj has been at Mount Sinai since 2010, coordinating both clinical research and serving as administrative manager in two different labs in the Department of Neurology and Department of Geriatrics. She was recruited by NARC and the Brain Imaging Center in November 2013 to help with similar functions.

Thomas Maloney, PhD
Thomas Maloney, PhD is a Laboratory Operations Manager. Tom received his PhD in biopsychology from Stony Brook University, investigating the relations between ERP and neuropsychological measures of waking performance and the EEG composition of prior sleep. He has developed and managed human sleep research laboratory facilities and projects for Psychiatry departments at the Veterans Administration facilities in Northport, New York, and Martinez, California, the University of California at Davis, the Chronobiology program at Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital and Brown University, and managed technical operations for Stony Brook University Hospital’s ASDA-accredited Sleep Disorders Center. Tom managed operations for NARC’s predecessor program at Brookhaven National Laboratory from 2004-2012, and the NARC program at Mount Sinai since 2013.

 

We are looking for volunteers to participate in our research efforts. We need the following:

Study Participants. We seek current or past cocaine/crack users between the ages of 18 and 60 as well as people with difficulties controlling anger (ages 18 to 45). We need people who are in good health. Confidentiality maintained. Please contact narc@mssm.edu or 347-443-2395 for more information.

Volunteer Research Assistant. We are looking for current undergraduates or recent graduates to fill volunteer research assistant positions. We need motivated, detail-oriented people with strong communication skills. Candidates must be available a minimum of 16 hours a week during weekdays, regular working hours, for a full year. Research Assistants help with all aspects of the research process including performing neuroimaging and neuropsychological procedures, conducting data analysis and management, and recruiting participants. Please send your resume, transcript, semester and summer availability, and earliest start date to narc@mssm.edu. If we are able to match your interest with a current research opportunity, we will contact you for an interview. We require letters of recommendation before conducting interviews.

We are also seeking candidates for a funded Graduate Fellowship in Social Work and Neuroimaging, provided by a join collaboration of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and the Freidman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Graduate students (PhD or MSW) who are interested in a research dissertation that will center on translational investigation are encouraged to apply (preference will be given to individuals who have advanced to candidacy; successful completion of course requirements). The primary mentorship for this fellowship will be provided by Dr. Keren Bachi, LCSW. Interested applicants should send a cover letter, CV, and reference letter to: keren.bachi@mssm.edu.