About Us

The Mood and Personality Disorders Program (MPDP) of the Department of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is focused on understanding how biology and life experience combine to form personality, how they may go awry leading to personality problems, and using this understanding to support the development of new and more effective treatments and prevention strategies. Since its founding by Dr. Larry J. Siever, MPDP has been a pioneering laboratory for the study of the role of neurobiology in personality development and function.

Personality disorders are common conditions that take a toll on an individual’s functioning at work, in social and intimate relationships, and in his or her ability to form and maintain a stable and realistic self-image. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and irritability are often seen in personality disorders. To understand how these problems may come about and how to treat them, our program looks at personality from multiple perspectives–biological, psychological, social, cognitive, and developmental. Our lab uses a range of state-of-the art tools including fMRI and PET imaging, emotional and cognitive performance tasks, two-person computer games, medication, and psychotherapy trials and genomic analyses.

Areas of Focus

We study specific personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD), and Schizotypal Personality Disorder (SPD). In addition, we study problematic personality traits that cut across diagnoses.

Our research focuses on some of the most critical questions underlying personality function, such as how emotion is regulated, how social cognition is shaped, how trust is enhanced or damaged, how personality influences and is influenced by memory and cognitive processes, and the role of empathy. We examine the neurobiology of personality at the levels of neural circuitry, synaptic function, molecular activity and genomics. 

Internationally recognized, MPDP carries out cutting-edge research, expanding knowledge of personality and its disorders. Importantly, our work has also contributed to de-stigmatizing personality disorders. Our research has been continuously funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Veterans Administration, and the Department of Defense, as well as private granting sources, enabling us to make important contributions to the field.