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David Saunders, MD, PhD (entered 2015): is the husband of Jennifer Small-Saunders, son of Allen and Deborah Saunders and brother to eight siblings. He grew up in Hastings, MN and then attended Boston College as an undergraduate, majoring in theology and completing pre-med requirements, while spending his free time on the crew team. He spent four months living in a Tibetan refugee community in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he studied the history and philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism. After graduating from Boston College in 2007, David returned to the same Tibetan community in Nepal as a Fulbright Scholar, studying Tibetan religio-cultural perceptions of tuberculosis, which confirmed his desire to pursue a PhD in Buddhist studies alongside medical training. In 2008, he matriculated at Weill Cornell Medical School (WCMC) completing the first and second years of medical school. In 2010-2012, he took a leave of absence from WCMC to pursue a PhD in Religion at Emory University under John Dunne, with a specific focus on Buddhist meditation theory and the philosophy of mind and self. After returning to WCMC, he received his MD in May of 2014, and then completed his PhD at Emory in 2015 on self and no-self in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. For the last several years, he has taught mindfulness and compassion-based meditation in various settings—especially enjoying his time with children and teenagers—and decided to pursue child and adolescent psychiatry alongside adult psychiatry and research. His free time is spent racing marathons for the New York Athletic Club and taking walks with his wife and two dogs, Emerson and Darwin.
Eunice Yuen, MD, PhD (entered 2015): was born and raised in Hong Kong, a cosmopolitan metropolis where Chinese traditions blend with Western culture. At the age of 16, she came to the U.S. to pursue better education and opportunities. She attended high school in Orlando, Florida and then obtained her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy, a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, and an M.D. in Buffalo, New York. Since her time as a clinical intern in physical therapy, Eunice has been intrigued by the physiology of neurological diseases. For her Ph.D. in neuroscience and postdoctoral training, she examined cellular mechanisms of glutamate receptor function, which are implicated in several neuropsychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and depression. As a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at University at Buffalo, she was awarded with a NARSAD Young Investigator Award to investigate the cellular actions of serotonin in glutamate receptor function and trafficking in prefrontal cortex. Her most recent research has focused on how emotional stress impacts on synaptic transmission, and specifically looking at sexual dimorphism of stress response in relationship to mental disorders. While she enjoyed scientific discovery, Eunice had a longing to also contribute clinically to patients who suffered from the neuropsychiatric conditions she studied. She embarked on her medical training to connect basic science to bedside. During her clinical rotation in child psychiatry, she was profoundly amazed at how family dynamics and developmental stressors were closely interconnected, and how that would critically impact child physical and mental health. To further explore the field of child psychiatry, she applied for and was awarded an AACAP Life Members Mentorship Grant for Medical Students. At the 61st annual AACAP conference, she discovered the diverse interests and exciting opportunities in the field of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and found the calling to join this family. As a Yale Solnit Integrated Program Fellow, Eunice relishes combining clinical and research training in the field. Outside of medicine, Eunice enjoys spending time with her husband, son and cat (Will, Leo and Monmon, respectively). She also enjoys swimming, jogging, hiking, piano and karaoke.
Andrea Diaz Stransky, MD (entered 2014): was born in Mexico and lived in several countries growing up, where she learned to speak five languages. She spent four years in Brazil. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, she started her initial steps as a researcher, exploring the correlation between multilingualism and mathematical fluency in teenagers. She also learned how to dance ‘samba’. Andrea then moved to Canada, where she graduated from McMaster University summa cum laude with a Bachelor in Health Sciences. At McMaster she became passionate for research and evidence based medicine. She dedicated her thesis project to exploring the Management of Child Bereavement among pediatric oncology patients. This work, as well as her summer job at one of Paul Newman´s camps for chronically ill children, sparked her interest in the mental health of children who are chronically ill. Determined to pursue a career in Child Psychiatry, Andrea attended medical school in Mexico, at Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey, graduating summa cum laude. She was selected in her class to complete a neuroscience clerkship with Dr. Alfredo Quinones's Brain Tumor Research Lab at Johns Hopkins University. Andrea sought to get involved in child psychiatry research, collaborating with Dr. Elaine Tierney and Dr. Carmen Lopez Arvizu from Kennedy Krieger Institute. She worked with their research team for two years focusing on developmental disorders with a metabolic or neurogenetic basis. During that time, Andrea studied Smith Lemli Opitz Syndrome, and used Diffusion Tensor Imaging to explore the effects of biochemical factors on brain microstructure in language-related brain regions. She also participated in an exome sequencing study of Autism Spectrum Disorders in collaboration with Dr. Porter and Dr. Bailey-Wilson's team at the National Institute of Health, seeking endophenotypes of ASD. She presented a poster at AACAP in 2011 and obtained a Travel Student Award to present at IMFAR in 2013. Andrea had a glimpse of every-day life for the psychiatric patient population through her active role in mental health initiatives in her local community. During her free time, Andrea likes to learn and teach languages, travel, go to the theater, hike and spend time with her husband.
Amalia Londono Tobon, MD (entered 2014): grew up in Medellin, Colombia and immigrated to Miami, FL at the age of 12. She graduated with honors in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University. At Hopkins, Amalia worked with Dr. Nicholas Gaiano to elucidate the role of the notch signaling pathway in mice neurodevelopment. As an undergraduate, she was awarded the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program, and worked at the NIMH with Dr. Miles Herkenham on a project to understand the role of microglia in the maternal immune activation model of Autism. As a Stanford medical student, with a continued interest in neurodevelopment, Amalia worked with Dr. Joachim Hallmayer and Dr. Wendy Froehlich on a retrospective twin study analyzing the role of maternal and perinatal environmental factors in the development of Autism Spectrum disorders. She was awarded the AACAP medical student award for this work. She is also worked with Dr. Jose Maldonado and Dr. Lisa Sher, of the Stanford C/L psychiatry service, on a two-year prospective study of medical and psychosocial outcomes of the Stanford Integrated Psychosocial Assessment for Transplantation (SIPAT). Amalia has broad research and clinical interests in child psychiatry including: the role of psychoeducation on children’s mental health and outcomes, the understanding behavioral/emotional development in children with chronic medical conditions, and the interface of psychiatry with non-psychiatric medicine. As an immigrant herself, Amalia is also very interested in working with immigrant and culturally diverse populations. During her free time, Amalia enjoys spending time with her family and significant other, traveling, learning cultures and languages, playing tennis, dancing, and being outdoors.
Jennifer Dwyer, MD, PhD (entered 2013): grew up in Great Falls, VA and attended the University of Virginia for her undergraduate studies. There she was selected for the inaugural class of Neuroscience majors, and also completed a minor in Philosophy. She worked with Dr. Emilie Rissman studying the role of steroid hormones and hypothalamic peptides in the neural control of feeding and sexual behaviors. These studies piqued her interest in how sex hormone modulation of neural circuits could underlie gender differences in the etiology and expression of psychiatric disorders. In addition to falling in love with neuroscience research at UVa, she also fell in love with Sean, her husband. Together they embarked on their west coast adventure, as she entered the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of California, Irvine. She completed her Ph.D. in Dr. Frances Leslie’s developmental neuropharmacology lab. Her thesis work explored adolescent development of mesocorticolimbic dopamine systems and the impact of gestational exposure to nicotine on these developmental processes. This work was supported by ARCS Foundation and PHRMA Foundation fellowships. Her studies in the lab provided the perfect complement to her clinical interests in child and adolescent psychiatry. She graduated with a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and an M.D. with Distinction in Research, and received the Wood Elliott Award for Outstanding Pharmacology Graduate Student and the Raymond Chaitin M.D. Award for Excellence in Psychiatry. She is thrilled to be combining her research and clinical passions in the Yale Solnit Integrated Program. Her clinical interests within child psychiatry are broad and she looks forward to allowing the rich clinical experiences at Yale to guide her further specialization. Outside of her academic interests, Jenny’s second lab is the kitchen where she loves to cook, most recently experimenting with fresh pasta and bread, and all things braised. She also enjoys hot yoga, tennis, and spending time with Sean and their sassy, and somewhat mean-spirited, cat, Shelby.
Judah Weathers, MD, PhD (entered 2013): grew up in the Merrimack Valley of southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts. He attended college at Northeastern University in Boston where he studied behavioral neuroscience. As an undergraduate researcher Judah trained under the supervision of Professor James Stellar examining the pathophysiology of addiction using rodent models of drug self-administration. As a Yale medical student he participated in the Donald J. Cohen Mentorship Program at the Yale Child Study Center, where he was mentored by Dr. James Leckman. Upon completing his third year of medical school, Judah pursued a D.Phil (Ph.D.) related to cognitive neuroscience in the National Institutes of Health-Oxford-Cambridge-Scholars Program. Under the supervision of Professor Guy Goodwin of the Warneford Psychiatric Hospital, Oxford University, and Dr. Ellen Leibenluft of the National Institute of Mental Health, he used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study decision-making, motor inhibition, and response flexibility in children and adults with bipolar disorder (BD), relative to healthy subjects. His article on motor inhibition impairments in BD published in the American Journal of Psychiatry was the first to report direct comparisons of child versus adult fMRI data in BD, relative to healthy subjects. After returning to medical school, Judah sought a residency training program in which he could pursue his research interests, using neuroimaging, cognitive functioning, and genetic information to examine the development of mental illness over the lifespan. As a member of the Solnit Integrated Training Program, his work with Dr. Hilary Blumberg of the Child Study Center uses neuroimaging techniques to study development of bipolar disorder. Judah is also involved in the Yale SCHOLARS Program, where he provides seminars to New Haven regional high school students on careers in science. Judah enjoys warm weekends outdoors with family, fitness, exploring new cultures and places, and meeting new people.
Naomi Pitskel, MD (entered 2012): A life-long New Englander, Naomi grew up in the suburbs of Boston and received her BS in neuroscience, magna cum laude, from Brandeis University. During her undergraduate years, she participated in research utilizing visual evoked potentials to study visual processing in infants, and was awarded the Nancy Lurie Marks Foundation Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Following graduation, Naomi spent two years working with Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD at Harvard Medical School, using functional MRI (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation to investigate visual cortical plasticity in adults. She subsequently enrolled in the Clinical Scientist Training Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a five-year scholarship program providing clinical research training in addition to an MD. While in medical school, Naomi was the recipient of the Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship for Medical Students at Yale School of Medicine, where she had the pleasure of pursuing a long-time research interest in the lab of Kevin Pelphrey, PhD, at the Yale Child Study Center. There, she conducted fMRI studies of social cognition in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), focusing on the neural correlates of emotion regulation in children with ASD relative to their typically developing peers. Upon graduation from medical school, she was awarded the Bert and Sally O’Malley Award for Medical Student Research, the Richard L. Cohen, MD Award for Excellence in Child Psychiatry, and the Jeffrey Alan Gray Memorial Prize for Compassion and Humanism. Naomi’s clinical psychiatry experiences in medical school fostered an emerging dedication to the interface of maternal and child mental health. At Yale, she is currently working with Megan Smith, DrPH, studying child neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes following prenatal antidepressant exposure, parenting behaviors and mother-child attachment in depressed mothers, and community interventions for at-risk moms. She also has a burgeoning interest in gender identity and sexuality in children and adolescents, and is involved in the development of a new pediatric gender clinic. In 2014 she received the National Institute of Mental Health Outstanding Resident Award and an American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Pilot Research Award. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, reading, exploring the New Haven restaurant scene, and spending quality time with her family.
Hannah Reed, MD (entered 2012): grew up in Nashville, TN and left for college at Washington University in St. Louis planning to major in architecture and psychology. After spending time as an ABA therapist for children with autism spectrum disorders, she became passionate about developmental neuroscience and decided to instead pursue a research career. At Wash U, she worked with Dr. John Constantino studying the developmental trajectory and heritability of autistic traits in the general population. She also founded the Night Off program which provides respite care to families of children with autism. She graduated with honors with a major in psychology and minors in neuroscience and philosophy and received the Hyman Meltzer Memorial Award for Undergraduate Research in Psychology. Hoping to better serve children with developmental disorders, Hannah moved to Baltimore to complete the post-bac premedical program at Johns Hopkins. There she also began research with Dr. Marco Grados examining the genetic correlates of autistic traits in OCD. While applying to medical school, she worked at Vanderbilt with Dr. Beth Malow studying the relationship between autism spectrum disorders and sleep behaviors. Hannah then began her medical training at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine where she continued her ASD research interests and was also involved in multiple local and international projects for children’s healthcare. At Yale, Hannah is working with Dr. Roger Jou and Dr. Kevin Pelphrey in the Center for Translational Developmental Neuroscience, specializing in neuroimaging of structural connectivity correlates of ASD and social development in infants and toddlers. Clinically, she works with the Developmental Pediatrics department training in the early diagnosis of autism. Hannah also serves as the treasurer for the YNHH Resident and Fellow Senate. In her free time, Hannah enjoys being with friends, traveling, volunteering, cooking, and occasionally getting back to her love of art and residential design.
Justyna Piasecka, MD (entered 2011): was born in Poland and grew up in the United States on the East Coast. As an undergraduate at Brown University, Justyna majored in history while completing the first four years of Brown's 8-year PLME program (Program in Liberal Medical Education). She first became interested in research as an undergrad while working with Dr. Stephen McGarvey on a study in the Samoas which examined the interplay between genetics and environmental factors on obesity and diabetes. After college Justyna worked as an Americorps volunteer for a nonprofit which organized outdoor programs for individuals with disabilities in the Boston area, and she also pursued a sports psychology internship in Florida before returning to Brown University for medical school. Upon completion of her clinical rotations, Justyna took an NIMH predoctoral fellowship and joined Dr. Eric Morrow's lab at Brown University. There she worked on the Developmental Disorders Genetics Research Program, which aims to identify genetic changes associated with autism and intellectual disability. After graduating from medical school she continued her work with the project for another year, which cemented her desire to work in child psychiatry in both the clinical and research settings. At Yale, Justyna has maintained her interest in working with individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders while also exploring many other facets of child and adolescent psychiatry. Justyna joined Denis Sukhodolsky's group on an RDoC project investigating the effectiveness of CBT on anger and aggression, including changes in the brain on MRI and EEG following treatment. Additionally, she worked as a clinician with IICAPS (In-home Intensive Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services), delivering intensive child and family therapy in the home for several families, and will continue to work with them as they gather data from a RCT analyzing the program's effectiveness. In her spare moments, Justyna enjoys tennis, photography, reading, and globetrotting, as well as spending time with her husband and baby daughter.
Jerome Taylor, MD (entered 2011): grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Rice University summa cum laude with a BA in biochemistry. At Rice he began his research in the basic sciences, co-authoring a paper on cellular pathways in lung smooth muscle cells. He went on to attend medical school at the University of Virginia. After completing his third year of medical school, Jerome took a year off to participate in the Centers for Disease Control Applied Epidemiology Fellowship in Atlanta, GA. He spent the year at the CDC developing statistical skills and published a paper on obesity in the African-American Church. As a fourth year medical student, he co-authored a paper examining blood-brain abnormalities in psychotic adults with type 2 diabetes. At Yale, he has worked with Michael Bloch (alumnus of the Solnit Program) to develop a project examining the therapeutic potential of NMDA receptor antagonists (ketamine) in adults with social anxiety. He has also published work with Dr. Bloch identifying factors affecting outcomes when treating anxiety disorders. Jerome remains interested in psychiatric epidemiology and evaluating interventions in low-income communities. In his free time, he enjoys jogging, playing tennis, watching basketball, and participating in the Minority Housestaff Organization.
Kara Bagot, MD (entered 2010): was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2004 with a B.A. in Psychological and Brain Sciences. At Hopkins, Kara conducted research on the neuro-behavioral, psychological and anatomic effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on children. Prior to medical school, she completed a 2-year fellowship at the National Institute of Drug Abuse as an Intramural Research Training Award Fellow exploring the manner in which bupropion mediates smoking cessation in adolescents. During medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, Kara examined the dynamic interplay between HIV serostatus and substance abuse and the effect of this interaction on executive and psychosocial functioning. As a fourth year medical student at UIC, in collaboration with researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Kara took part in research evaluating quality of life impairments in patients with various psychiatric illnesses including depression and substance abuse. As a Solnit resident at Yale, she has continued to pursue her interest in adolescent substance abuse conducting research with two mentors, Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, Ph.D. (Yale) and Yifrah Kaminer, M.D, MBA (UConn). In Dr. Krishnan-Sarin's lab, Kara is examining the impact of maintenance and cessation of regular smoking on pain in adolescents. In collaboration with Dr. Kaminer, she has begun to explore the impact of cannabis on psychiatric outcomes in youth as well as the association between prescription stimulants and neurocognition. In her spare time, Kara enjoys long-distance running, traveling with family and friends and spending time outdoors.
Rebecca Muhle, MD, PhD (entered 2010): Rebecca spent her childhood in the eastern and southern United States and Canada, then moved overseas as a teenager and lived in Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Switzerland. She returned to the States for college, and obtained a B.A. in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She joined Dr. Ronald DePinho' s lab at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine studying tumor cell oncogenesis and suppression with Dr. Leila Alland, then completed further studies of infection-induced preterm labor in the laboratory of Dr. Emmet Hirsch at Columbia University. These scientific efforts produced 7 co-authorships, and Rebecca became determined to continue a career in clinical medicine and science. She entered the Medical Scientist Training Program of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and obtained her M.D. and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology with the aid and guidance of her mentor, Dr. David A. Fidock (currently at Columbia University). Her thesis detailed the development of new molecular tools and materials to aid in the study of the antigenically variant var genes in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, and resulted in several papers detailing the in situ genetic regulation of var genes as well as the first published in vitro expression and functional presentation of novel mini-var genes on the surface of infected red blood cells. While completing her medical training, Rebecca also pursued her interest in autistic spectrum disorders by co-authoring a paper with Dr. Isabel Rapin, a pediatric neurologist with appointments at Jacobi and Montefiore Hospitals, who specializes in autism. Her interest in psychiatry continued to blossom during her clinical rotations, and she was awarded the Maurice Greenhill Memorial Award in Psychiatry upon graduation in 2010. Her current research is focused on determining the genetic networks of autism risk utilizing next generation sequencing techniques to assess autism risk gene targets, and the development of animal models to explore these mechanisms in vivo. This work is being conducted in the lab of Dr. James Noonan, and is also part of a multi-lab effort including Dr. Nenad Sestan, Dr. Matthew State (at UCSF), Dr. Kathryn Roeder (at Carnegie Mellon University), and Dr. Bernie Devlin (at Univ of Pittsburgh). Rebecca enjoys music, movies, and literature, and also treasures family time with her husband, their two boys, and the family cat, Vitamin.