Shelley Amen, MD, PhD - PGY I
After serving as a parachute rigger and jumpmaster in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC, Shelley graduated as valedictorian at Campbell University majoring in biology and psychology. Always interested in the molecular underpinnings of motivated behavior, Shelley returned home to Milwaukee to join the Medical Scientist Training (MD/PhD) Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin. There, she studied the neural substrates of drug dependence, specifically the network underlying potent cocaine craving. Under the supervision of Shi-Jiang Li, PhD in the Department of Biophysics, Shelley investigated cocaine-induced alterations in the mesocorticolimbic system and the utility of glutamate prodrug, N-acetylcysteine, as an anti-craving therapeutic. Under the guidance of Cecilia Hillard, PhD in the Department of Pharmacology, Shelley further studied the cocaine-induced alterations in the endocannabinoid system as a modulator of glutamate release and inhibition. Shelley described region-specific changes in cannabinoid receptors, endogenous ligands and their biosynthetic enzymes in the transition from the drug-naïve state to chronic drug exposure, withdrawal and relapse in a mouse model of cocaine dependence. This work was supported for 3 years by a NIH/NIDA National research Service Award (F30). Shelley eagerly looks forward to translating her experiences into the psychiatric and clinical research populations with the hope of developing additional strategies for substance abuse pharmacotherapy.
Alan Lewis, MD, PhD - PGY I
Alan grew up outside of Albany, NY and attended the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate, where he studied chemistry and spent years in the lab synthesizing organic molecules. A fantastic neuroscience course changed his research trajectory, and he entered the Medical Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University. At Northwestern, he worked in the lab of Dane Chetkovich, studying how an auxiliary subunit of HCN channels in hippocampus regulates both channel trafficking and function, as well as how HCN channels may contribute to mood disorders. In the NRTP at Yale, Alan looks forward to continuing basic science research aimed at answering clinical questions, and he is interested in developing novel disease models with the goal of understanding fundamental mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders.
Daniel Moreno De Luca, MD - PGY I
After attending medical school at the Universidad Industrial de Santander in his hometown of Bucaramanga, Colombia, Daniel’s curiosity about human behavior and his desire to experience the world through travel led him first to a Genetics fellowship at the Università di Bologna, Italy, where he studied the role of X-inactivation in families with autism and the genetics of suicide and personality disorders. Fascinated by the concept of psychiatric genetics, he then went to Paris, France, where he obtained his Master’s degree in Neuroscience at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie and the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, while he continued to investigate the genetic underpinnings of psychiatric disorders, particularly the role of anomalies in chromosome 15q11-q13 and 22q11 in autism and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Afterwards, he moved to the United States for a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University to continue studying the genetic architecture of autism and schizophrenia, with a particular focus on copy number variants (CNVs), which led to several publications and a book chapter. Given the close ties between clinical and research genetics at Emory, he had the privilege of participating in weekly case conferences and clinical rounds, which complemented his research experience and fueled and new set of clinically-grounded research questions. He was pleased and deeply grateful for the supportive environment he found as an aspiring scientist all throughout; he received travel awards and invitations to present his work at international meetings, where he had the chance to interact with many leading scientists in the field. Ultimately, Daniel decided to work directly with the people he studied; convinced he could make the biggest difference in the clinic, and sure of the research insights clinical interactions bring, he applied for residency training in psychiatry and is now honored to be part of the Yale psychiatry team and the Neuroscience Research Training Program.
Albert Powers, MD, PhD - PGY I
Al grew up in nearby Northford, CT, and attended his local college, Yale, for his undergraduate studies.
During his first stint at Yale, Al took time away from singing with the Alley Cats and Whiffenpoofs to study Cognitive Science and do research with Dr. Laurie Santos, exploring aspects of object cognition and feature binding in capuchin monkeys.
During the year following college, Al worked with Yale Psychiatry faculty member Eugene Redmond, investigating the efficacy of fetal tissue transplants in Parkinson's Disease. In 2005, Al packed his bags and shipped south for the MSTP at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN.
At Vanderbilt, Al's Ph.D. work was performed with Dr. Mark Wallace.
Together, and with NRSA funding from the NIDCD, they demonstrated that the cortical systems responsible for combining information from the auditory and visual senses are capable of rapid, robust, and stable plastic change as demonstrated by human behavioral and neuroimaging data, findings that could carry implications for a subset of psychiatric disorders exhibiting abnormalities in multisensory processing. Back at Yale, Al is enjoying the clinical training afforded by intern year but simultaneous aching to be back in the lab exploring the subtle differences in brain connectivity that may underlie much of psychiatric disease.
Katherine Blackwell, MD, PhD - PGY II
At St. Olaf College, Katherine enjoyed all the benefits of a liberal arts education, majoring in Spanish, studying abroad, fulfilling pre-med requirements, and taking a cell biology course her senior year that hooked her onto research. Following graduation, she worked in a cardiovascular physiology lab at the Mayo Clinic, where Katherine had her first opportunity to perform highly supervised, but independent research. Then she went to the University of Connecticut Medical School, where she was a combined MD/PhD student.
Katherine didn't know what type of physician she wanted to be, so she found wonderful clinician-scientist mentors and completed her dissertation on a bone biology project. As part of that work, she was awarded an NRSA. In all of the various projects she has worked on, she’s enjoyed the process of research, from defining a question and developing the experiments to analyzing and presenting the data. She is a sort of a research junkie, and looks forward to finding the type of psychiatric clinical population that will be the basis of her future research career.