Meet the Team

Emily Bernstein, PhD

Rita Z. Goldstein, PhD, Chief

Dr. Goldstein is the Mount Sinai Professor in Neuroimaging and Addiction at the Department of Psychiatry with a secondary appointment at the Department of Neuroscience/Friedman Brain Institute (FBI) in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS). Dr. Goldstein directs the Neuroimaging of Addictions and Related Conditions (NARC) Research Program, and previously the Brain Imaging Center (BIC) at ISMMS, both internationally recognized for their use and development of innovative multimodality neuroimaging methods (including MRI, PET, EEG/ERP) for the translational study of brain morphology and function.

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). Multiple neuroimaging modalities—including MRI, EEG/ERP, PET—and neuropsychological tests are used to explore the neurobiological underpinnings of iRISA in drug addiction and related conditions. This model has drawn considerable scientific attention (exceeding 3,000 citations for a review published in the Am J Psychiatry in 2002 and 2,000 for another review published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience in 2011). An important application of Dr. Goldstein’s research is to facilitate the development of intervention modalities that would improve cognitive and emotional function, leading to better treatment outcomes, in drug addiction and other chronically relapsing disorders of self-regulation.

Dr. Goldstein is a recognized leader in the neuroimaging study of the cognitive and emotional processes underlying human drug addiction. Her research interests include the elucidation of the role of dopamine and prefrontal cortical deficits in iRISA (Impairments in Response Inhibition and Salience Attribution or the compromised ability to change ongoing willed-behavior in response to an emotionally salient feedback) in drug addiction and other disorders of self-control. Dr. Goldstein's interests also include pharmacological fMRI, real-time neurofeedback using Brain Computer Interface, and brain stimulation (e.g., with tDCS). She has also been exploring the contribution of individual differences, including recency of drug use (across both stimulants and opiates), sex differences and polymorphisms in monoaminergic genes, to addiction and aggression, with a focus on the neural mechanisms underlying real-life/naturalistic brain function/behavior, reinforcement learning, risk-taking and extinction, choice and decision-making, and self-awareness and insight into severity of illness.

Dr. Goldstein has authored or co-authored >150 highly-cited, peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters, focusing on the role of the prefrontal cortex in drug addiction. Her research has been independently funded by several federal and private agencies, with total funding of more than $20 million as a principal or multiple investigator or program director.

Dr. Goldstein is fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) since 2015, receiving the prestigious Joel Elkes Research Award in 2012 and the Jacob P. Waletzky Award in 2013.

Dr. Goldstein has mentored numerous trainees, from junior faculty and post-doc fellows to graduate, undergraduate and high-school students. Several of her students/post-doc fellows received NIH fellowships under her primary or co-sponsorship (e.g., F and/or K series), receiving numerous other awards and recognition in the field. Dr. Goldstein's trainees have published numerous 1st authorship manuscripts in prestigious psychiatry and neuroscience journals (including Neuron, J Neurosci, PNAS, JAMA Psychiatry, Brain, Biological Psychiatry, Cerebral Cortex, etc.) and many of them are now leading their own independent labs as principal investigators (e.g., at ISMMS, Stony Brook Univ., Univ. of Minnesota, Univ. of Rutgers, Univ. or Montreal).

Emily Bernstein, PhD

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.

Butelman

Eduardo Butelman, PhD, MS

Eduardo is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He received his Doctorate in Psychology in Psychology from University College London, followed by training in behavioral pharmacology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He then joined the Research Faculty in the Laboratory on the Biology of Addictive Diseases at the Rockefeller University.

Eduardo’s initial work focused on the behavioral, analgesic and respiratory effects of drugs of abuse such as opioids, in preclinical models. He has also worked extensively in peripheral biomarker studies, both in clinical and preclinical studies. More recently he has also characterized major stages in the trajectory of opioid and cocaine use disorders in clinical studies, and their relationship to gender and early adolescent exposure.

Emily Bernstein, PhD

Ahmet Ceceli, PhD

Dr. Ceceli is a postdoctoral fellow at NARC. He received his master’s degree in New York University (PI: Dr. Elizabeth Phelps), where he studied the psychophysiological bases of emotional learning. He completed his PhD in psychology, specializing in cognitive neuroscience, at Rutgers University-Newark (PI: Dr. Elizabeth Tricomi), investigating the neurobehavioral mechanisms underlying habits in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Broadly, Dr.Ceceli is interested in the neural signature of cognitive control in drug addiction. His work at the NARC lab focuses on the structural and functional brain substrates of cognitive and habitual control in cocaine and heroin addiction. The goals of Dr. Ceceli’s research include 1) better understanding how salient drug cues affect self-control in individuals with substance use disorders, 2) revealing common and distinct cognitive control markers across substance classes to identify precise biomarkers, and 3) improving addiction treatment outcomes via ecologically valid estimates of drug-biased processing. Dr. Ceceli is supported by a National Institute on Drug Abuse T32 Training Grant in Substance Use Disorders.

Emily Bernstein, PhD

Greg Kronberg, PhD

Greg completed his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the City College of New York, where he worked in Lucas C. Parra’s group. His graduate work in neural engineering focused on optimizing non-invasive brain stimulation technologies. He used computational models in vitro experiments to understand how weak electromagnetic fields can be used to alter synaptic plasticity. Greg joined the NARC lab as a postdoc in 2020. He is interested in using tools from engineering, machine learning, and computational neuroscience to subtype individuals with substance use disorders and help predict treatment outcomes. He is currently characterizing the dynamics of brain networks in fMRI responses to naturalistic stimuli to identify addiction and recovery related brain states.

Emily Bernstein, PhD

Yuefeng Huang, PhD

Yuefeng Huang received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Texas at Dallas after completing training in the Cognition and Neuroscience program under the supervision of Dr. Sven Vanneste. His graduate work focuses on using non-invasive brain stimulation (e.g., tDCS) and neuroimaging methods (e.g., fMRI, EEG) to study human memory functions. After graduated, he joined the Neuroimaging of Addictions and Related Conditions (NARC) lab as a postdoctoral fellow in 2020. In the NARC lab, he is interested in studying the neuromechanism of addiction and aiming to identify neuromarkers for therapeutic Interventions. He will also focus on studying sex differences in addiction and how sex hormones modulate the impaired response inhibition and salience attribution (iRISA) model in addiction.

Emily Bernstein, PhD

Sarah King

Sarah is a PhD student in the Neuroscience graduate program at Mount Sinai. She previously completed a post-baccalaureate under the mentorship of Dr. Carlo Pierpaoli in the Quantitative Medical Imaging Section at the NIH, where she studied the neuropathology of mild traumatic brain injury using diffusion MRI and tissue histology. Her current research in the NARC research program aims to leverage advanced neuroimaging methods to understand how drug addiction alters the connectivity of brain regions, especially the prefrontal cortex and habenula. She is also interested in understanding social factors of addiction through naturalistic speech.

 

 

Amelia Brackett

Amelia is a clinical research coordinator at the NARC Lab. She graduated from Cornell University with a double major in psychology and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies in 2018. She continued her studies at the Relay Graduate School of Education, where she earned a Master’s of Arts in Teaching General Education (Grades 5-9) and Special Education (Grades 7-12). Prior to working at Mount Sinai, Amelia was a middle school teacher, where she taught a variety of learners—from students with autism spectrum disorder and other learning disabilities, to those experiencing emotional disturbances. She is interested in novel therapeutic interventions for individuals with addiction and comorbid psychopathologies. Watching innovative therapies reduce symptomology and build resilience has strengthened Amelia’s long-term desire to develop and implement evidence-based clinical interventions. Amelia intends to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology in the near future.

Emily Bernstein, PhD

Natalie McClain

Natalie is a clinical research coordinator at the NARC lab. She graduated from Barnard College with a degree in Cellular Neuroscience and Mathematics in 2022. Before joining the NARC lab, Natalie worked in the Losonczy Lab at the Zuckerman Institute under Adrian Negrean investigating in vivo place-cell tuning and the electrophysiological mechanisms of memory retrieval. Natalie intends to pursue a doctoral degree in neuroscience with hopes of specializing in addiction. This is motivated by her desire to both advance our understanding of the addicted brain and to contribute to the development of therapeutic interventions for individuals suffering from addiction.

 

Collaborations

In addition to our core team, we collaborate with the following investigators:

 

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 or individuals addicted to heroin 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 or Dr. Goldstein at rita.goldstein@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.