Eligibility

To be considered, candidates must be competent clinicians, who have been accepted, are in, or have completed training in psychiatry, child psychiatry or pediatrics, or individuals who have been granted a PhD in developmental, cognitive, or clinical psychology, neuroscience, neurobiology, molecular biology, pharmacology, or genetics. Selection will be made by the faculty of the training program. We are seeking individuals who have the initiative and skills needed to become successful independent investigators, and whose research interests can be matched with a potential faculty mentor at Yale. Prior research experience, letters of reference, and personal interviews of the most promising candidates will be major factors in the selection process.

Trainees

To be considered, candidates must be physicians who have been accepted, are in, or have completed training in psychiatry, child psychiatry, or pediatrics, or individuals who have been granted a Ph.D. in developmental, cognitive or clinical psychology, analytical chemistry, neuropharmacology, developmental, molecular or systems neuroscience, computer sciences, bioengineering, brain imaging, human genetics, epidemiology, services research, or social policy. Selections will be made by the executive committee of the training program. Prior research experience, letters of reference, and personal interview of the most promising candidates will be major factors in the selection process. Finalists will be invited to present a seminar to the faulty of the program at the Center.

Trainees Funded The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Institutional Research Trainng Grant

Judith H. Danovitch, Ph.D. (2006-8): Under the guidance of mentor Dr. Ami Klin, Dr. Danovitch investigates how individuals with autism spectrum disorders seek out information and share their knowledge. She is specifically interested in individuals who display circumscribed interests and how these interests influence their ability to learn about related and unrelated topics. With Dr. Klin, she recently published the results of an initial survey study of circumscribed interests in children with autism. Dr. Danovitch has published two manuscripts this year in Developmental Science and Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, has another manuscript in press in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, and is preparing two additional manuscripts with Dr. Klin. She has also presented her research at the Society for Research in Child Development meeting in March 2007, the International Meeting for Autism Research in May 2007, and plans to present additional research at the International Meeting for Autism Research in May 2008.

Joshua Diehl, Ph.D. (2007-9): Dr. Diehl has been actively involved in the research communities at the Yale Child Study Center and Haskins Laboratories examining aspects of language processing in autism and other disabilities. Initially, he participated in the design of an fMRI study of implicit prosody processing with Drs. Robert Schultz, Rhea Paul, Inge-Marie Eigsti, and Ken Pugh. Soon after, he began analyzing acoustic patterns of speech in autism, and he and Dr. Paul will present the findings at an international autism conference. Dr. Diehl also collaborated with Dr. Jesse Snedeker (Harvard) to study online speech processing in autism. With Drs. Ken Pugh and Einar Mencl at Haskins, he is learning imaging techniques that will be used investigate brain structure in individuals who are language/reading impaired. Most recently, he has proposed a study of autism that combines fMRI and eye-tracking to examine the neural processes involved in prosody deficits. He plans to pursue internal/external grant funding using the pilot data from these projects.

Abha R. Gupta, M.D., Ph.D. (2006 - 8): Dr. Gupta completed her clinical fellowship training in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics and serves on a multidisciplinary team which evaluates children in the Autism Clinic at the Child Study Center. She is doing postdoctoral research training in the laboratory of Matthew State, MD, PhD, where she is investigating the genetics of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). She is performing linkage analysis in a unique population of individuals who have ASD and are the children of consanguineous marriages, in an effort to detect chromosomal loci which confer susceptibility to the disorder. In another project, she is studying a number of patients who have ASD and chromosomal abnormalities using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to define the chromosomal breakpoints and locate candidate genes. She is also analyzing the expression patterns of the genes using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). She is using array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) to detect chromosomal duplications and deletions in patients which are too small to detect by traditional karyotype analysis. She and Dr. State have published two review articles on the genetics of autism, in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry and Biological Psychiatry. She is a co-author of a recently published research article investigating the prevalence of mutations in the gene CNTNAP2 in ASD in the American Journal of Human Genetics. She is also a co-author of the book chapter, “Medical issues associated with ASD,” in Autism in Infants and Toddlers: Diagnosis, Assessment and Treatment, which is “in press.”

John D. Herrington, Ph.D. (2006-8): Dr. Herrington's work has three main foci. First, he is examining emotion regulation and interhemispheric information transfer among maltreated children at elevated risk for mood and anxiety disorders. In his time here he has carried out an fMRI experiment on over 20 children and is currently preparing the data for publication. A second focus is on the neural correlates of normal and abnormal emotional reciprocity. His particular emphasis is on facial mimicry – the tendency for individuals to rapidly display the same facial expression as another person. He has finished developing an electromyography laboratory and initial piloting of these experiments. Last, he is developing two fMRI experiments examining motor cortex contributions to social judgment. He has finished piloting these tasks and is currently collecting data on a non-clinical sample.

Brian Rash, Ph.D. (2007-9): Dr. Rash received his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth A. Grove in the field of early forebrain patterning. This work led to a strong interest in the mechanisms of cerebral cortical development that has directly led to his current position in Dr. Flora Vaccarino’s lab. Specifically, work published from his dissertation clarifies patterning mechanisms that lead to cortex formation and points to a role for fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) in controlling cortex development. This role is being tested in the Vaccarino lab using various mouse mutants, including new ones that conditionally over express FGFs in the dorsal telencephalon—the site of the future cerebral cortex. Understanding the role of signaling factors such as FGFs will provide a more thorough understanding of cortical neuronal development and should allow the identification of environmental factors that may interfere with cortex development and produce behavioral deficits.

Erin Warnick, Ph.D. (2006-8): Dr. Warnick is currently working with the Yale Child Study Center (YCSC) Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic to understand and improve mental health services for children and adolescents. Dr. Warnick is part of a research group that was recently awarded a grant to study the implementation of a model for disseminating evidence-based psychotherapy treatments to urban, publicly-funded, mental health clinics. Using the proposed model, the group hopes to lower the drop-out rates and increase parent’s willingness to participate in parent-oriented interventions for youth. Dr. Warnick has helped coordinate research in the YCSC Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic for the past three years and works closely with the Research Committee that oversees and approves all research proposals related to the YCSC Outpatient Clinic. Dr. Warnick is working on several publications related to the application of various assessment methods during intake to an outpatient mental health clinic. Dr. Warnick presented posters on some of her findings at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy annual conference in November 2006 and November 2007.

Alexander Westphal, M.D. (2006-8): Alexander Westphal is a third-year trainee in the Albert J. Solnit Integrated Child and Adult Psychiatry Research Training Program. He is currently immersed in the Investigative Medicine Program at Yale and completing his degree requirements for a Ph.D. He is currently developing a research protocol using eye-tracking, ambiguous figures, and contrast polarity inverted images of eyes to investigate whether people with autism rely more heavily on geometrical visual cues compared to their typical counterparts. During the last year he has written pieces for Current Opinions in Psychiatry, the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Academic Psychiatry. He is one of the authors of a chapter on diagnostic assessment to appear in Autism Spectrum Disorders in Infancy and Early Childhood, edited by Kasia Chawarska, as well as an author of the chapter on autism in the third edition of Tasman’s textbook, Psychiatry.

Other Participants in the Research Trainng Program

Rebecca Hommer, M.D. (2007–9): Rebecca Hommer is a second-year resident in the Albert J. Solnit Integrated Child and Adult Psychiatry Research Training Program. Rebecca’s clinical work includes the Yale Child Study Center’s early childhood assessment clinic, the Minding the Baby program and the Connecticut Mental Health Center’s obsessive-compulsive disorder and first break psychosis (STEP) clinics. Rebecca is working on several projects under the mentorship of Dr. Linda Mayes, including studies of young children’s learning, adolescent stress reactivity, and the outcomes of mother-infant dyads involved in an intensive nursing home intervention program. In addition, Rebecca is developing computer-based task paradigms employing salient infant cues to study the relationship between distress tolerance and maternal competence. Rebecca is pursuing advanced coursework in health policy and biostatistics through the Yale School of Epidemiology and Public Health. Rebecca was recently named a 2008-2009 APA/Shire Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellow and awarded travel grants to attend the 2008 & 2009 annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association.

Elena Kallestinova, Ph.D. (2007-8): Dr. Kallestinova received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Iowa in 2007. In her dissertation, she explored the syntactic and psycholinguistic aspects of word order in Russian, a language with flexible word order. Her current research focuses on the child acquisition of verb categories, verb agreement and word order by normally developing children and children with specific language impairment (SLI). She is also interested in the acquisition of prosodic patterns (intonation and stress) in the child language development. Her current work in Dr. Grigorenko’s lab at the Child Study Center focuses on the language impairment criteria and linguistic characteristics of Russian adults and children with SLI.

Angeli Landeros-Weisenberger, M.D. (2006-8): Dr. Landeros-Weisenberger received a research fellowship through the APIRE/PMRTP program to work under the mentorship of James F. Leckman; she is currently in her second year of funding. Her main research interests are in the use of symptom dimensions in OCD and the use of new treatment options for Tourette’s syndrome. She continues to be an active participant in the OCD/TS Outpatient clinic where she sees patients on a weekly basis. She is currently preparing an article on the association between OCD symptom dimensions and pharmacological treatment response and is working on a new manuscript on the temporal stability of OCD dimensions in a cohort of children seen at the YCSC until young adulthood. She is currently involved in an ongoing double-blind, placebo control study of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) treatment targeted at the supplementary motor area of adults with severe Tourette’s syndrome, done in collaboration with Dr. Sarah H. Lisanby’s group at Columbia University, with initial funding by the Tourette Syndrome Association. She has applied to NARSAD looking for funding of a similar project looking at treatment response in a double-blind, placebo controlled trial in adolescents between 14 and 18 years of age with severe Tourette’s syndrome.

Maria Motagh, M.D. (2007-8): Dr. Motagh began her research work in child psychiatry with a study of children suffering PTSD symptoms after the Bam (Iran) earthquake. During her General Psychiatry residency, she developed an interest in childhood onset neuropsychiatric disorders while working at the Institute for Cognitive Science Studies (ICSS). At that time she was instrumental in developing a joint project between ICSS and YCSC on genetic assessment of consanguineous Tourette syndrome patients in Iran. She presented the result of the phenomenological issues of this ongoing genetic analysis study at the 2nd international congress on child and adolescent psychiatry in Tehran. Her proposal of the neuropsychiatric assessment of this group of TS patients received a grant from ICSS. She has now come to the Yale OCD/TS clinic to continue her career working under the guidance of Dr. Leckman. She is currently developing a protocol to use rTMS to treat severe TS and OCD patients. She is also working on the results of a longitudinal study (completed over the course of ten years - 1995-2005) regarding the risk and protective factors in the prenatal and perinatal periods on the development of TS and OCD as well as understanding the role of environmental factors on the clinical manifestation of TS and OCD.

Tamara Vanderwal, M.D. (2007-8): Dr. Vanderwal is continuing to work in neuroimaging with Robert T. Schultz, Ph.D., examining the neurofunctional underpinnings for differentiating between self and other. She has developed a paradigm for testing encoding and retrieval of self-referential information in the MRI magnet. In healthy adults, she has demonstrated the social nature of self-referential processing, with a similar network of regions being recruited during tasks that involved self, mother and abstract others. Her study also found that unique deactivations in bilateral temporal poles occurred during self-referential processing when compared with mother-referential processing. The manuscript from this work is currently under review. She is working to extend this paradigm for use with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as to look at the self-reference effect developmentally in typically developing children. Dr. Vanderwal is also beginning a project that will look at the effects of guanfacine on children physiologically, behaviorally and via dense-array EEG. This work will be done with Dr. Linda Mayes.