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 New York. Previously, she was a tenured scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), the first psychologist to have received tenure at BNL. She 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. Her interests also include pharmacological fMRI, real-time neurofeedback, and brain stimulation. Dr. Goldstein has also been exploring the contribution of individual differences, including polymorphisms in monoaminergic genes, to addiction and aggression, with a focus on the neural mechanisms underlying reinforcement learning, risk-taking and extinction, choice and decision-making, and self-awareness and insight into severity of illness. She 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. Dr. Goldstein was nominated as a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) professional meeting, serving on its Program and Scientific Communications and Membership Committees. She is also a member of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) meeting, previously serving on its Jacob P. Waletzky Award Selection Committee, after having received several major honors including the Waletzky and Elkes Awards.

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.

Muhammad A. Parvaz, PhD
Dr. 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.

Ahmet O. Ceceli, PhD
Dr. Ceceli is a postdoctoral fellow at NARC. He received his PhD in psychology specializing in cognitive neuroscience from Rutgers University-Newark with Dr. Elizabeth Tricomi as his advisor, where he investigated the neurobehavioral mechanisms underlying the formation and disruption of habits in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Prior to his doctoral training, he completed a master’s degree at New York University with Dr. Elizabeth Phelps as his advisor, where he studied the psychophysiological basis of emotional learning. Dr. Ceceli is interested in examining the neural signature of motivation and behavioral control in clinical populations. His work at the NARC lab is particularly focused on studying reward processing and self-control in addiction using MRI and psychophysiological tools. The goal of Dr. Ceceli’s research is to better understand how salient drug cues affect self-control in individuals with substance use disorder, and to elucidate the brain systems underlying these processes to help us predict and improve addiction treatment outcomes.

Lily Gabay
Lily is a clinical research coordinator at the NARC Lab. She graduated with honors from New York University with a BA in psychology and a specialization in child and adolescent mental health studies. Having previously researched circadian effects on cognitive functioning in individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with Dr. Monica P. Lewin as her advisor, she has become interested in treatment outcomes for individuals with addiction and associated psychopathologies. She intends to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. She looks forward to learning more about the specific behavioral and neural correlates of addiction, in addition to gaining a better understanding of the underlying brain mechanisms of addiction and other disorders of inhibitory control.

Pierre-Olivier Gaudreault, PhD
Dr. Gaudreault is a postdoctoral fellow at the NARC laboratory. He completed his PhD in clinical neuropsychology at the Université de Montréal, Canada under the supervision of Dr. Julie Carrier and Dr. Nadia Gosselin. His research focused on the implication of the brain anatomical connectivity, measured through diffusion MRI, in the electrophysiological characteristics of sleep spindles. The goal of Dr. Gaudreault’s current research is to better understand the association between functional and anatomical connectivity of brain networks implicated in drug addiction using multimodal techniques (e.g., EEG, diffusion MRI, fMRI). In the NARC lab, he specifically focuses on the use of transcranial direct current stimulation to modulate drug craving in addicted individuals and the use of diffusion MRI to establish the relationship between white matter microstructure and electrophysiological salience markers in those individuals to enhance our understanding of the structural connectivity putatively underlying salience attribution in drug addiction and in health. Dr. Gaudreault is also heavily involved in teaching and community outreach. He has presented in multiple events on sleep and health, and has been invited to teach numerous university courses on sleep, aging, and psychopharmacology at the undergraduate and graduate level. Dr. Gaudreault is the recipient of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship. His mentor is Dr. Rita Goldstein. 

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 connections in the brain to produce social behavioral deficits in individuals with substance use disorder.

Pias Malaker
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.

Pazia Miller, MSEd
Pazia is a clinical research coordinator at the NARC Lab. She graduated from Barnard College with a BA in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and ethnic studies in 2014, from Hunter College with a MSEd in adolescent special education in 2016, and completed post-baccalaureate coursework in psychology from the City University of New York in 2019. Prior to working at Mount Sinai, she worked as a research assistant in the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Lab at Columbia University with Dr. Nim Tottenham as her advisor. Pazia is a recent career changer. She worked for five years as a middle and high school special education teacher where she worked to integrate experiential learning, harm-reduction based teaching strategies, and helped to facilitate a dialectical behavior therapy program. She is interested in studying therapeutic practices that assist individuals recovering from traumatic experiences and how those therapies alter brain systems and functioning. Pazia intends to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology in the near future. 

Akarsh Sharma
Akarsh is a medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He completed his undergraduate and master's training in molecular biology at Yale University. He is currently considering a career in psychiatry as a clinician and researcher.

Devarshi Vasa
Devarshi is currently studying psychology at New York University and volunteers as an undergraduate research assistant. Devarshi works primarily on the tDCS project and helps with tDCS administration, daily interviews of participants, toxicology testing, and other tasks such as data analysis and organization. Devarshi is interested in learning about the intersection between psychology and medicine and hopes to attend medical school in the future.

Genevieve Yang, MD, PhD
Dr. Yang is a psychiatry resident in Mount Sinai's Physician-Scientist research track. She is a graduate of the Yale MD-PhD program, receiving her PhD in Neuroscience in 2017 and her M.D. in 2018. She trained in Biology (major) and Mathematics (minor) at Columbia University (BA '08), where she engaged briefly in tissue-engineering/biomaterials research. For her PhD in Neuroscience, she worked with Dr. Anticevic and Dr. Krystal in the field of functional neuroimaging and computational neuroscience.

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.