Mentoring Faculty

Dual Appointment Faculty

Howard Aizenstein is a Professor of Psychiatry, Bioengineering, and Clinical and Translational Sciences and an expert on the cognitive and affective neuroscience of aging and geriatric brain disorders. He is trained as a geriatric psychiatrist and also as a computer scientist. His research program is recognized for expertise in MRI analyses methods, as well as their use for clinical research in aging.

Finnegan Calabro is a Research Instructor in Psychiatry. Dr. Calabro is trained as a bioengineer and studies brain networks. Brain networks are frequently faced with the challenge of reconfiguring themselves to optimize perceptual and cognitive processing, whether during normal development, adaptation to new environments, or recovery from neurological dysfunction. Dr. Calabro’s interest is in utilizing multi-modal neuroimaging techniques, including task and resting state fMRI, DTI, PET, and EEG/MEG, to push our understanding of the mechanisms of developmental processes that lead to optimized brain networks capable of mature cognitive processing.

Tamer Ibrahim is a Professor of Bioengineering, Psychiatry, and Radiology. He is an electrical engineer by training yet works predominantly on biological-electromagnetic interactions in MRI and brain machine interface for his entire scientific career. Dr. Ibrahim has a broad background (+20 years) in ultrahigh field human MRI. Through extensive collaborations with Department of Psychiatry, Alzheimer Disease Research Center, Department of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology, Department of Neurology, Department of Psychology, and Department of Anesthesiology at Pitt, his 7 Tesla hardware developments are currently being utilized in more than 15 NIH projects.  

Konasale Prasad is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry. He has examined the neurobiology of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders for over 14 years using multimodal imaging (structural MRI, fMRI, DTI, multinuclear MRS, PET, and susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI)) to elucidate neurobiology of psychotic disorders and risk for developing psychoses that can be targeted for novel interventions.

Helmet Karim is a Assistant Professor of Psychiatry who obtained his PhD from the Pitt’s Department of Bioengineering. His work primarily focuses on prediction of treatment response in major depression following transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). He develops machine learning models that utilize functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electrical field modeling, and structural imaging to predict treatment outcomes. He has mentored several undergraduate student projects as well as guided graduate students and postdoctoral trainees. He has developed a highly collaborative program that focuses on understanding the brain in the context of multiple psychiatric disorders.

Bioengineering Faculty 

Taylor Abel is a Pediatric Neurosurgeon and Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery working at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He directs the Pediatric Brain Electrophysiology Laboratory (PBEL) that uses direct intracerebral recordings in epilepsy surgery patients to examine the physiologic correlates of higher cognition. Sensory (auditory and visual) processing during adolescence is a major focus of the research group.

Rakié Cham is an Associate Professor, with primary appointment in the Department of Bioengineering and secondary appointments in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Physical Therapy. Her interests are in the field of balance and gait impairments in various clinical populations, e.g. older adults, autism and more recently low vision. One area that is relevant to this T32 is Dr. Cham’s collaborations with neuroimaging experts to better understand the neural mechanisms of balance and mobility impairments in patients with low vision.

Tracy Cui is a Professor of Bioengineering. Her research is focused on the biocompatibility issues of neural interface technology as well as drug delivery, biosensing and neural tissue engineering. She has established a multidisciplinary laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh with expertise and facilities dedicated to the research field of neural electrode-tissue interface, neural tissue engineering, biosensors and drug delivery systems.

Lee Fisher is an Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Bioengineering. His research career has focused on the development of devices and techniques for restoring function in individuals with neurological disorders and diseases. This includes restoring standing and stepping in individuals with motor-complete spinal cord injury, and restoring sensation and motor control in individuals with limb amputation. These projects focus on translation of pre-clinical experimental results into clinical testing, and involve significant interaction with human subjects. As such, they often require close interaction with clinicians, and bridge the gap between experimental science and clinical care.

Neeraj Gandhi is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering. His research focuses on sensorimotor integration and cognitive processes that transform visual signals into eye and head movement commands. He has performed research in this arena for over two decades, supported by near continuous funding from NEI/NIH and has published numerous invited reviews and book chapters.

Theodore Huppert is an Associate Professor of Radiology and Bioengineering.  His laboratory works on the development of acquisition and analysis techniques for near-infrared spectroscopic measurements of tissue. This work includes projects in both brain imaging and muscle physiology applications.

Bistra Iordanova (Jr.) is a Research Assistant Professor in Bioengineering. Her research focuses on leading-edge neuroimaging to explore neurovascular and metabolic cellular events during neurogenesis, normal development and neurodegeneration. Dr. Iordanova aims to elucidate aspects of metabolic and vascular processes in the healthy brain and preclinical models of human disease. She seeks to identify therapeutic targets in the brain metabolic and vascular signaling pathways connected to brain dysfunction.

Kang Kim is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering. He has a broad background in ultrasound physics and signal processing, and its applications to soft tissues, with specific training and expertise in ultrasound imaging technologies and multi-modality approaches. He has experience in ultrasound to measure brain tissue pulsatility, and its relationship to cerebral small vessel disease.

Takashi Daniel Yoshida Kozai is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering. His research goal is focused on seamlessly integrating the machine and the human body by understanding biology at the cellular and molecular level. He has 10 years of formal training in bioelectronics, microfabrication, and microelectrode technology with an electrical engineering concertation focus and a strong background in molecular and cellular biology. His diverse education and research background provide a unique combination of knowledge to engineer optimized devices that interface with the human body, particularly for neural interfaces.

Patrick Loughlin is a Professor of Bioengineering. His research interests include sensory integration in motor control, control of human movement, sensory substitution, haptics, vibrotactile feedback, brain-computer interfaces, computational models, and signal processing.

Mark Redfern is a Professor of Bioengineering, Otolaryngology, and Physical Therapy.  He has been an NIH-NIA funded researcher for over 20 years and has focused on human balance and locomotion. His areas of expertise are biomechanics, human balance and postural control; particularly related to aging and fall prevention. Dr. Redfern’s recent research is in the area of cognition and postural control and the impact of aging on this relationship.

Andrew Schwartz is a Professor of Neurobiology. His research program is a combination of basic neurophysiological investigation of the cerebral contribution to motor control and the decoding of movement-related cortical signals for the control of neural prosthetic devices. In his 40 years as a PI, he has trained many graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, both in basic neuroscience and in neural engineering.

George Stetten is a Professor of Bioengineering and Radiology. He is primarily an engineer, with a background in electronics and computer science, and a career of more than 35 years developing new technology. He has worked as an engineer at MIT and on Deep Submersible Alvin at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute for a number of years, as well as at NYU. Dr. Stetten’s present research builds primarily on several of his inventions. The Hand-Held Force Magnifier, the Sonic Flashlight, and a device for the blind called FingerSight, which allows visually impaired individuals to explore their environment with a tiny camera and vibrators mounted on their hand.

Gelsy Torres (Jr.) is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering. Her group investigates the human ability to adapt walking patterns and learn new movements through interactions with the world. To this end, she combines psychophysical experiments and computational tools to study locomotor learning in unimpaired subjects and patients with unilateral cortical lesions. Her studies aim to provide insights on how to stimulate learning mechanisms in patients with brain lesions.

Alberto Vazquez is a Research Associate Professor in Radiology and Bioengineering.  His research program focuses on neural, vascular and metabolic imaging of normal brain function in vivo with extensions to neurological pathologies, especially Alzheimer’s disease. He uses an array of computational and experimental methodologies, such as linear/non-linear modeling and characterization of biological systems, optical/fluorescence imaging, two-photon microscopy, calcium imaging, optogenetics and magnetic resonance imaging, to assess nervous system function and dysfunction.

Doug Weber is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering.  His general research area is Neuroscience Engineering, including fundamental studies of neural coding and feedback control in sensorimotor systems, as well as more applied research into neurostimulation for restoring sensory and motor functions, activity-based neuromotor rehabilitation, and neural prosthetics. His research combines fundamental neuroscience and engineering research to understand physiological mechanisms underlying sensory perception, feedback control of movement, and neuroplasticity in sensorimotor systems.

Psychiatry Faculty

Carmen Andreescu is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and a licensed psychiatrist. Over the last decade, she has developed a special interest in the neural basis of late-life mood and anxiety disorders. Currently, she is Principal Investigator on two R01 studies that explore neural markers of worry and early markers of treatment response in late-life depression. She is an accomplished mentor of trainees, has participated in multiple mentoring workshops, and is currently a faculty mentor for the NIH-funded Summer Research Institute (SRI).  Dr. Andreescu is very involved in neurostimulation and is director of TMS services at the Center for Interventional Psychiatry.

Layla Banihashemi is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Banihashemi has been researching the neuroscience of stress throughout her career. Her research focuses on brain circuits that control physiological responses to stress and how these circuits may be shaped by childhood experiences, including abuse or traumatic events. After earning Master’s and doctoral degrees in Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Banihashemi obtained postdoctoral training through the Department of Psychiatry’s Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Training Program (T-32, NHLBI) and was subsequently awarded a National Research Service Award (F-32) on Hypothalamic and Limbic Forebrain Stress Reactivity from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Dr. Banihashemi was then awarded a Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01) from the National Institute of Mental Health to investigate how childhood adversity may influence stress-related neural circuits and contribute to mood, anxiety and trauma-related disorder symptoms. In addition to presenting her work at numerous conferences and scientific meetings, Dr. Banihashemi has published her findings in several scientific journals including the Journal of Neuroscience and Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience. Dr. Banihashemi’s innovative work has been recognized with awards and honors by the American Psychosomatic Society, Society of Biological Psychiatry and Society for Neuroscience and has been featured in The Guardian and The Washington Post. Dr. Banihashemi is dedicated to the advancement of science toward the improvement of human health.

Alexandre Dombrovski is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry.  His research focuses on the decision-making deficits that may contribute to suicidal behavior and their neurocomputational correlates. In his clinical practice, he treats patients with difficult-to-treat mood disorders, borderline personality disorder, and suicidal behavior, and his observations of the suicidal crisis support this theoretical perspective.

Fabio Ferrarelli is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry.  He has extensive experience using TMS in combination with simultaneous high density EEG to investigate the neuronal properties of cortical areas in both healthy and psychiatric populations. One of his main research goals is to understand the relationship between neural circuit activity and related perceptual and cognitive functions. Because his lab consistently utilizes research tools that rely on bioengineering methods, this would be an excellent environment for cross-department research and educational programs.

Zachary Freyberg (Jr.) is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Cell Biology. The overall goal of the Freyberg laboratory is to elucidate the fundamental cell biological processes underlying human neuropsychiatric disorders at the molecular level. Dr. Freyberg has had direct experience working with patients with chronic mental illnesses including schizophrenia. His research aims to translate basic neuroscientific findings to the bedside and develop more precise therapies that improve the lives of those with chronic mental illness.

David Lewis is a Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. His research activities focus on the neural circuitry of the prefrontal cortex and related brain regions, and the alterations of this circuitry in schizophrenia. Dr. Lewis has served as mentor to over 50 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty (including NIMH K awardees), currently directs an NIMH-funded research training program for under-represented minority and disadvantaged undergraduates, and has participated as a mentor to young investigators at multiple national meetings, including the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, American Psychiatric Association and Society for Biological Psychiatry. He has also served on advisory boards for multiple training grants.

Beatriz Luna is a Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics.  Her area of research is in developmental cognitive neuroscience with a focus on characterizing the neural basis of cognitive development and motivation during the transition from adolescence to adulthood in normative and clinical populations. Her research aims are studied in the Laboratory of Neurocognitive Development, which she directs.  She uses multimodal imaging (fMRI, rsfMRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), MEG, PET, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)) and neurocognitive tasks.

Anna Manelis is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and a director of the ACE lab. The ACE lab uses multimodal neuroimaging across fMRI, MRI, DTI and fNIRS modalities to understand episodic memory, working memory, emotion regulation, anticipatory processing, visual imagery and food-related behaviors in healthy adults and individuals with mood disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder). They hope that using their extensive expertise in multimodal neuroimaging, advanced methods of neuroimaging data analyses, and successful implementation and management of complex cross-sectional and longitudinal neuroimaging protocols will allow them to understand factors affecting and predicting psychosocial functioning in individuals with mood disorders. 

Colleen McClung is a Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical and Translational Science. Her research program focuses on the role of circadian rhythms in the development and treatment of psychiatric disorders. She employs rodent models, cell culture work human postmortem tissue, and human clinical studies to define the mechanisms by which circadian genes regulate mood, anxiety, and reward, and to design novel treatments for psychiatric diseases.

Marta Pecina is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. Her research aims to examine individual differences in mechanisms of antidepressant treatment response in order to identify new targets for therapeutic interventions. In particular, she seeks to understanding how expectancies and learning mechanisms impact mood improvement using placebos as experimental probes. Dr. Pecina’s lab uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) in conjunction with physiological and behavioral measures to investigate how the response to pharmacological treatments can be shaped by expectancies and learning mechanisms.

Mary L. Phillips is a Professor of Psychiatry. Her research has focused on the identification of neural correlates that underlie the symptoms of specific abnormalities in emotion processing in psychiatric conditions including bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. Dr. Phillips has built a team of junior researchers who work in neuroimaging research in mood and anxiety disorders. Her most recent research includes examination of infant affective neural circuitry, the use of tDCS as a modulator of neural circuitry underlying reward and emotion processing in bipolar disorder, and patterns of neural circuitry function and structure that underlie specific dimensions of behaviors predisposing to poor clinical and functional outcomes in young adults.

Rebecca Price is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. Her research interests and expertise lie at the intersection of clinical psychology and cognitive-affective neuroscience, with an emphasis on disorders of negative affect (anxiety, depression). She has particular training and expertise in assessment of implicit neurocognitive processing patterns in affective disorders, including behavioral information processing tasks (extensive experienced using the Implicit Association Test in clinical research) and fMRI, and the targeted modification of cognitive processing mechanisms through computer-based manipulations and interventions. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in assessment and treatment for anxiety and depression as well as the Principal Investigator on three ongoing NIMH-funded grants.

Dean Francis Salisbury is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry. His laboratory has an established infrastructure for experimental psychopathology research using neurophysiological (EEG & MEG) and MR imaging methods. The laboratory is designed for high-throughput EEG studies, with 2 identical recording systems. He is actively involved in developing methods for detecting source-resolved oscillatory activity and cross-frequency coupling between distant brain areas. Dr. Salisbury has active collaborations with statistics, mathematics, and engineering for advanced signal analysis and network analyses of multimodal and multidimensional brain data.

Tobias Teichert is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry.  The goal of his research is to provide a detailed understanding of the neural mechanisms of auditory contextual effects and their role in auditory sensory memory. Dr. Teichert’s work uses a novel experimental approach developed in his lab and combines behavior, EEG and intracranial recordings/microinjections in the rhesus. The most recent advances in the lab have enabled microinjections targeted at specific generators of EEG activity in auditory cortex.

Kristine Wilckens (Jr.) is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. She studies sleep as a promotor of brain health and cognitive fitness. Her research investigates neural processes during sleep that support healthy cognitive aging and sleep interventions that enhance functioning of brain networks and mitigate cognitive impairments. Dr. Wilckens’ published research demonstrates the importance of specific sleep domains (sleep continuity and slow-wave sleep) in executive function and memory performance in young and older adults.

Minjie Wu (Jr.) is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. She is trained as a PhD in bioengineering and has extensive experience in bioimaging and signal processing, and has developed innovative imaging/signal algorithms, including “Automated Labelling Pathway”, “Optimum Template Selection”, “Segmentation and Localization of White Matter Hyperintensities” (WMH, GPN), the NIH DTI package “TORTOISE” (https://science.nichd.nih.gov/confluence/display/nihpd/TORTOISE), and “Adaptively Optimized Combination (AOC)” method for multichannel signals. She has applied these methods to characterize structural and functional changes associated with aging and neurodegenerative diseases.

Kymberly Young is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. She has expertise in using fMRI to study patients with mood and anxiety disorders, with a specific focus on developing neurofeedback interventions. She has a broad background in cognitive neuroscience and psychology, with specific training and knowledge in the cognitive deficits and emotional processing biases underlying mood disorders, as well as in fMRI experimental design and analysis.

*more faculty can be added at a later time