Resident Biographies


The PRP has helped current and past residents in their career development.

Current PRP Residents


Dr. Shinny-Yi (Cindy) ChouShinny-Yi  (Cindy) Chou, MD, PhD is a PGY3 resident in the PRP. She is working with her mentor Robert Sweet, MD, to examine mechanisms underlying auditory dysfunctions and social communication deficits in schizophrenia using mice models.

Selected Publications:

Pittenger S, Chou S, Barrett S, Catalano I, Lydiatt M, Bevins R. Nicotine- and cocaine-triggered methamphetamine reinstatement in female and male Sprague-Dawley rats, Pharm Biochem Beh. 2017;159: 69-75. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2017.07.003.

Chou S, Davis C, Jones S, Li M. Repeated effects of the neurotensin receptor agonist PD149163 in three animal tests of antipsychotic activity: focusing on its tolerance effect and impacts on clozapine,” Pharm Biochem Beh, 2015; 128: 78-88. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2014.11.015. 

Chou S, Jones S, Li M. Adolescent olanzapine sensitization is correlated with hippocampal stem cell proliferation and survival in a maternal immune activation rat model of schizophrenia, Brain Res, 2015; 1618: 122-35. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2015.05.036.

Dr. Daniel Wonjae ChungDaniel Wonjae Chung, MD, PhD is a PGY2 resident in the PRP working under the mentorship of David Lewis, MD. Using a top-down translational approach across different species and experimental conditions, his PhD work introduced a novel hypothesis that cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia may arise from an excessive pruning of excitatory synapses on parvalbumin interneurons due to dysregulated alternative splicing. As a PRP resident, he investigates the role of cell type-specific splicing factors that may regulate the alternative splicing of synaptic genes in normal development and schizophrenia.

Selected Publications:

Chung DW, Wills ZP, Fish KN, Lewis DA. Developmental pruning of excitatory synaptic inputs to parvalbumin interneurons in monkey prefrontal cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2017;114:E629-E637.

Chung DW, Fish KN, Lewis DA. Pathological Basis for Deficient Excitatory Drive to Cortical Parvalbumin Interneurons in Schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 2016;173:1131-1139.

Chung DW, Volk DW, Arion D, Zhang Y, Sampson AR, Lewis DA. Dysregulated ErbB4 Splicing in Schizophrenia: Selective Effects on Parvalbumin Expression. Am J Psychiatry. 2016;173:60-68.

Dr. Youjin ChungYoujin Chung, MD is a PGY1 resident in the PRP program working under the mentorship of David Lewis, MD. Her research interests concentrate on understanding the molecular alterations underlying abnormal cortical maturation in individuals with schizophrenia. 

Selected Publications:

Chung DW*, Chung Y*, Bazmi H, Lewis DA.  Altered ErbB4 splicing and cortical parvalbumin interneuron dysfunction in schizophrenia and mood disorders. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018; 43:2478-2486. *denotes equal first author.

Seshadri S, Faust T, Ishizuka K, Delevich K, Chung Y, Kim SH, Eom TY, Anton E, Li B, Sawa A. Interneuronal DISC1 regulates NRG1-ErbB4 signaling and excitatory-inhibitory circuit functioning in the mature cortex. Nat Communications, 2015; 6(1).

Dr. Kristen EckstrandKristen Eckstrand, MD, PhD is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellow in the PRP working under the co-mentorship of Mary Phillips, MD and Erika Forbes, PhD. Her current research focuses on the development of risk behaviors and affective psychopathology in youth, with a focus on vulnerable populations. Her research has been recognized with awards from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training.

"The PRP's focus on supportive and quality mentorship made my transition between fields of research (adulthood insulin resistance to adolescent mental health) smooth and exciting. The program's flexibility combined with a collaborative research environment easily facilitates research exploration and accomplishment."

Selected Publications:

Eckstrand KL, Hanford LC, Bertocci M, Chase HW, Greenberg T, Lockovich J, Stiffler R, Aslam HA, Graur S, Bebko G, Forbes EE, Phillips ML. Trauma-associated anterior cingulate connectivity during reward processing predicts affective and anxiety states in young adults. Psychological Medicine. 2018; 1-10. doi:10.1017/S0033291718002520. 

Eckstrand KL, Mummareddy N, Zhou M, Kang H, Zald D, Silver HJ, Niswender K, Avison MJ. An insulin resistance associated neural correlate of impulsivity in type 2 diabetes mellitus. PLOS One, 2017;12(12):e0189113. 

Eckstrand KL, Choukas-Bradley S, Mohanty A, Cross M, Allen NB, Silk JS, Jones NP, Forbes EE. Increased functional connectivity in social reward networks is associated with adolescents’ risky sexual behavior. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 2017; 27:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2017.07.004 

Dr. Stephen "Sai" FolmsbeeStephen ‘Sai’ Folmsbee, MD, PhD is a PGY2 resident who joined the PRP program in 2018. With his mentor, Susanne Ahmari, MD, PhD, Dr. Folmsbee is examining the molecular changes that occur in the post-partum brains of individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Selected Publications:

Folmsbee S, Wilcox DR, Tyberghein K, De Bleser P, Tourtellotte WG, van Hengel J, van Roy F, Gottardi CJ. αT-catenin function in restricted brain cell types and its potential connection to autism. Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, 2016, Jun 21;4:2. doi: 10.1186/s40303-016-0017-9. 

Wilcox DR, Folmsbee S, Muller WJ and Longnecker R. The Type I interferon response determines age-dependent choroid plexus susceptibility in HSV encephalitis. MBio, 2016 Apr 12;7(2). pii: e00437-16. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00437-16.

Dr. Matt GeramitaMatt Geramita, MD PhD is a PGY2 in the PRP working under the mentorship of Susanne Ahmari, MD, PhD. Matt's interests in psychiatry and computational neuroscience grew out of a fascination with the physics of biological systems. He was introduced to neuroscience at the NIH, where he used neuroimaging to study neural networks in schizophrenia. He then took a slight detour away from psychiatry during his PhD, using in vitro electrophysiology and computer modeling to understand the neural coding responsible for smell. Now focused on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Matt's work in the Ahmari lab uses optogenetics, in vivo electrophysiology and computational modeling to dissect the neural circuits driving compulsive behaviors. 

Selected Publications:

Geramita M, Urban NN. Differences in feed-forward inhibition on mitral and tufted cells lead to distinct modes of intensity coding. Journal of Neuroscience. 2017;37(6):1428-1438. PMID: 28028200

Geramita M, Urban NN. Postnatal odor exposure increases the strength of interglomerular lateral inhibition onto olfactory bulb tufted cells. Journal of Neuroscience. 2016; 36(49): 12321-12327. PMID: 27927952

Geramita MA, Burton SD, Urban NN. Distinct lateral inhibitory circuits drive parallel processing of sensory information in the mammalian olfactory bulb. eLife. 2016;5. PMID: 27351103

Aaron Jenkins, MDAaron Jenkins, MD joined the PRP in 2017 under the mentorship of David Volk, MD, PhD. His current project focuses on the molecular characterization of cortical microglia in post-mortem tissue from individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia.  He is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellow and has particularly enjoyed working in the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Spectrum Services clinic.  He looks forward to continuing to broaden his clinical experiences while continuing to think of how to best bridge these with his interests in basic neuroscience.

Selected Publications:

Jenkins AK, Paterson C, Wang Y, Hyde TM, Kleinman JE, Law AJ. Neurexin 1 (NRXN1) splice isoform expression during human neocortical development and aging. Mol Psychiatry, 21(5):701-6. doi: 10.1038/mp.2015.107.

Jenkins AK.  Reflections on the Past and Utility for the Present. Academic Psychiatry, 2014, 38(6):737-9. doi: 10.1007/s40596-014-0228-2.  

Jenkins A, Apud JA, Zhang F, Decot H, Weinberger DR, Law AJ. "Identification of candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms in NRXN1 related to antipsychotic treatment response in patients with schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacology, 39(9):2170-8. doi: 10.1038/npp.2014.65

Theiss AL, Jenkins AK, Okoro NI, Klapproth JM, Merlin D, Sitaraman SV.  Prohibitin inhibits tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced nuclear factor-kappa B nuclear translocation via the novel mechanism of decreasing importin alpha3 expression. Mol Biol Cell, 2009 20(20):4412-23. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E09-05-0361.

Dr. Alfredo SklarAlfredo Sklar, MD, PhD is a PGY3 resident under the mentorship of Dean Salisbury, PhD. His current research focuses on characterizing impairments in visual processing and selective attention as well as their impact on functional outcomes among individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders following their first psychotic break. Work in the Clinical Neurophysiology Research Laboratory has provided him the opportunity to expand his expertise in human multimodal imaging techniques including EEG, MEG, and structural MRI.

Selected Publications:

Hoffman LA, Sklar AL, and Nixon SJ. The Effects of Acute Alcohol on Psychomotor, Set-shifting, and Working Memory Performance in Older Men and Women. Alcohol, 2015; 49(3): 185-191.

Sklar AL and Nixon SJ. Disruption of sensory gating by moderate alcohol doses. Psychopharmacology, 2014; 231(22):4393-4402.

Sklar AL, Boissoneault J, Fillmore MT, Nixon SJ Interactions between age and moderate alcohol effects on simulated driving performance. Psychopharmacologyk, 2014; 231(3): 557-566.

Dr, J. Scott SteeleScott Steele MD, PhD, is a PGY4 resident in the PRP. Building on clinical interest in mood disorders and prior work in the neurocircuitry of emotion regulation he is currently working with Dr. Mary Phillips to identify the neural substrates of anhedonia and testing their clinical predictive power in a transdiagnostic sample of young adults.

Selected Publications

Steele JS, Bush K, Stowe ZN, James GA, Smitherman S, Kilts CD, et al. (2018) Implicit emotion regulation in adolescent girls: An exploratory investigation of Hidden Markov Modeling and its neural correlates. PLoS ONE 13(2): e0192318.

Lenow JK, Steele JS, Smitherman S, Kilts CD, Cisler JM. Attenuated behavioral and brain responses to trust violations among assaulted adolescent girls. Psychiatry Res. 2014 Jul. 30;223(1):1-8.

Dr. Ceci WestbrookCeci Westbrook, MD PhD, is a PGY1 in the child and adolescent track and the PRP. She completed her PhD in Psychology in  2017 under the mentorship of Dr. Richard J. Davidson and earned her MD in 2019 from the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Medicine. Dr. Westbrook is interested in the cognitive and neural mechanisms of the development of mood disorders in adolescents and young adults.

Selected Publications

Westbrook C, Patsenko E, Mumford J, Abramson, LY, Davidson, RJ. Frontoparietal processing of stress-relevant information differs in individuals with a negative cognitive style. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2018; 127(5), 437-447.

Burghy, CA, Fox, ME, Cornejo, MD, Stodola, DE, Sommerfeldt, SL, Westbrook, CA, Van Hulle, C, Schmidt, NL, Goldsmith, HH, Davidson, RJ, Birn, RM. Experience-driven differences in childhood cortisol predict affect-relevant brain function and coping in adolescent monozygotic twins. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6(37081). doi:10.1038/srep37081

Tabibnia G, Creswell JD, Kraynak T, Westbrook C, Julson E, Tindle HA. Common prefrontal regions activate during self-control of craving, emotion, and motor impulses in smokers.Clinical Psychological Science, 2014; 2(5), 611-619.

Westbrook CA, Tabibnia G, Julson E, Tindle H., Creswell JD. Mindful attention reduces neural and self-reported cue-induced craving in smokers. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2013;8(1), 73-84. PMCID: PMC3541484

Eric Zimmerman, MD, PhDEric Zimmerman, MD, PhD is a PGY1 resident in the PRP. He completed his MD and PhD training at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His PhD work used electrophysiology and DREADDs-based approaches in preclinical models to dissect novel cortico-thalamic circuitry underlying the control of ventral tegmental area dopamine neuron activity. He remains interested in basic and translational neuroscience approaches to study the neurobiology of chronic, severe mental illnesses, and plans to pursue further research in this area in the PRP.

Selected Publications:

Zimmerman EC, Grace AA. Prefrontal cortex modulates firing pattern in the nucleus reuniens of the midline thalamus via distinct corticothalamic pathways. European Journal of Neuroscience, 2018;48:3255-3272.

Zimmerman EC, Grace AA. The nucleus reuniens of the midline thalamus gates prefrontal‐hippocampal modulation of ventral tegmental area dopamine neuron activity. Journal of Neuroscience, 2016;36:8977– 8984.

Zimmerman EC, Bellaire M, Ewing SG, Grace AA. Abnormal stress responsivity in a rodent developmental disruption model of schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2013;38:2131-2139.


Past PRP Residents


Melanie GrubishaMelanie Grubisha, MD, PhD participated in the PRP between 2013 and 2017. Her research project was focused on impairments in dendritic morphogenesis in schizophrenia under the mentorship of Robert Sweet, MD. She then held a postdoctoral appointment, supported by the Training for Transformative Discovery in Psychiatry grant. Dr. Grubisha was appointed as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in 2019 and has a K08 award from the National Institute of Mental Health. In addition to her research, she also sees patients one day per week in a homeless clinic in Pittsburgh.

Selected Publications:

Russell TA*, Grubisha MJ*, Remmers CL, Kang SK, Forrest MP, Smith KR, Kopeikina KJ, Gao R, Sweet RA, Penzes P.  A schizophrenia-linked KALRN coding variant alters neuron morphology, protein function, and transcript stability. Biol Psychiatry. 2018;83(6):499-508. PMID:29241584.

Grubisha MJ*, Lin CW*, Tseng GC, Penzes P, Sibille E, Sweet RA. Age-Dependent Increase in Kalirin-9 and Kalirin-12 in Human Orbitofrontal Cortex.  Eur J Neurosci. 2016; 44(7):2483-2492. PMID: 27471199.

Liu TT*, Grubisha MJ*, Frahm KA, Wendell SG, Liu J, Ricke WA, Auchus RJ, DeFranco DB. Opposing Effects of Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) on Estrogen Receptor β (ERβ) Response to 5α-reductase Inhibition in Prostate Epithelial Cells. J Biol Chem. 2016; 291(28):14747-60. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M115.711515. PMID: 27226548 *denotes equal first author.

Dr. Danella HafemanDanella Hafeman, MD, PhD participated in the PRP between 2009 and 2012. Her research project was focused on Bipolar Disorder and neuroimaging, under the mentorship of Mary Phillips, MD. She then held a postdoctoral appointment, supported by the Innovative Methods in Pathogenesis and Child Treatment Training grant. She was appointed as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in 2017 and has a K01 Award from the NIMH.

"The opportunities through the PRP allowed me to explore a new area of research, learning how to analyze and interpret fMRI data. While I had a strong background in statistics (through my PhD in epidemiology), the protected time and strong mentorship facilitated my development as a neuroimaging researcher during my residency and child fellowship."

Selected Publications:

Hafeman DM, Merranko J, Axelson D, Goldstein B, Goldstein T, Monk K, Hickey MB, Sakolsky D, Diler R, Iyengar S, Brent D, Kupfer D, Birmaher B. Toward the definition of a bipolar prodrome: Dimensional predictors of bipolar spectrum disorder in at-risk youth. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2016;173(7):695-704.

Hafeman D, Bebko G, Bertocci MA, Fournier JC, Chase HW, Bonar L, Perlman SB, Travis M, Gill MK, Diwadkar VA, Sunshine JL, Holland SK, Kowatch RA, Birmaher B, Axelson D, Horwitz SM, Arnold LE, Fristad MA, Frazier TW, Youngstrom EA, Findling RL, Phillips ML. Amygdala-prefrontal cortical functional connectivity during implicit emotion processing differentiates youth with bipolar spectrum from youth with externalizing disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2016;208:94-100.

Hafeman D, Merranko J, Goldstein T, Axelson D, Goldstein B, Monk K, Hickey MB, Sakolsky D, Diler R, Iyengar S, Brent D, Kupfer D, Kattan MW, Birmaher B, Individualizing the bipolar prodrome: person-level risk calculator to predict new-onset bipolar spectrum disorder in youth at familial risk. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017.

Heather Joseph, DO

Heather Joseph, DO participated in the PRP from 2013 to 2016 and conducted research on familial transmission of ADHD and paternal parenting styles, mentored by Brooke Molina, PhD. She then held a postdoctoral appointment, supported by the Innovative Methods in Pathogenesis and Child Treatment Training grant. She was was appointed an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in 2019 and an attending on the Behavioral Health Consult service at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. She was the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation Fellowship in ADHD recipient for 2017 and has submitted a K23 career development award application.

"The PRP has the flexibility and support to meet the needs of trainees at all levels of research experience. This includes individuals who first explore a research career upon starting residency, like I did. I have benefited from the strong research infrastructure here, and had the opportunity to take courses through the Institute for Clinical Research and Education (ICRE) during residency. Soon I will graduate from the ICRE Certificate Program."

Selected Publications:

Joseph HM, Kennedy TM, Gnagy E, Pelham W, Perlman S, Molina BGS. Fathers with Childhood ADHD, Parenting, and their Young Children's Behavior: Offspring of the Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study (PALS). Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 2019: 50(1): 35–44.

Joseph HM, Emery RL, Bogen DL, Levine MD. The Influence of Smoking on Breast feeding Among Women Who Quit Smoking During Pregnancy. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2017; 19(5): 652-655.

Molina BGS, Gnagy EM, Joseph HM, Pelham WE. Antisocial Alcoholism in Parents of Adolescents and Young Adults With Childhood ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 2016; 1-10, 1087054716680074. 

Dr. Brandon McKinneyBrandon McKinney, MD, PhD participated in the PRP from 2010 to 2014 and studied age-dependent DNA methylation changes in the orbital frontal cortex under the mentorship of Etienne Sibille, PhD. He then completed a two-year research fellowship supported by the Training for Transformative Discovery in Psychiatry grant during which he studied how DNA methylation is altered in the auditory cortex of subjects with schizophrenia under the mentorship of Robert Sweet, MD. Dr. McKinney was appointed as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in 2016 and has a K23 award from the National Institute of Mental Health to investigate DNA methylation as a mechanism for reduced dendritic spine density in schizophrenia. In addition to his research, he also sees patients at the Psychiatric Emergency Intake Services facility at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital.

“I chose the University of Pittsburgh for my residency training because of the PRP and I was not disappointed. The resources and flexibility available to me as a member of the PRP were integral in allowing me to develop my research program and transition to a faculty position.” 

Selected Publications:

McKinney BC, MacDonald ML, Newman JT, Shelton MA, DeGiosio RA, Kelly RM, Fish KN, Sampson AR, Lewis DA, Sweet RA, Density of small dendritic spines and microtubule-associated-protein-2 immunoreactivity in the primary auditory cortex of subjects with schizophrenia, Neuropsychopharmacology, 2019, 44(6):1055-1061. doi: 10.1038/s41386-019-0350-7. PMID: 30795003.

McKinney BC, Lin CW, Rahman T, Oh H, Tseng G, Lewis DA, Sibille E, DNA Methylation in the human frontal cortex reveals a putative mechanism for age-by-disease interactions, Translational Psychiatry, 2019, ePub online, 2019 PMID: 30696804.

McKinney BC, Ding Y, Lewis DA, Sweet RA. DNA methylation as a putative mechanism for reduced Dendritic Spine Density in the superior temporal gyrus of subjects with schizophrenia, Translational Psychiatry, 2017, 7(2):e1032. doi: 10.1038/tp.2016.297, PMID: 28195572.

McKinney BC, Lin CW, Oh H, Tseng G, Lewis DA, Sibille E, Hypermethylation of BDNF and SST Genes in the orbital frontal cortex of older individuals: A putative mechanism for declining gene expression with age, Neuropsychopharmacology, 2015, 40(11):2604-13, doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.107. PMID: 25881116; PMCID: PMC4569950.