Rachel Yehuda, PhD
Rachel Yehuda joined the Psychiatry Department in 1991, and has been a tenured professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) for over 20 years with a demonstrated record of successful and productive research projects. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MA and completed post-doctoral work at Yale Medical School. Dr. Yehuda is the Mental Health Patient Care Center Director and Director of the Laboratory of Clinical Neuroendocrinology and Neurochemistry at the James J. Peters VAMC, and has recently been appointed as Vice Chair for the Veterans Affairs in the Psychiatry Department. Her expertise is in the study the enduring effects of trauma exposure, particularly PTSD, as well as associations between biological and psychological measures. Throughout her career she has been interested in the role of hormones and other molecular and brain processes in producing vulnerability and resilience to trauma exposure. She has received numerous grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration and various Foundations such as Lightfighter Trust, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. These grants have allowed the Yehuda lab to innovate in areas of molecular biology and treatment of PTSD, identification of risk and resilience, an intergenerational transmission of trauma effects. Dr. Yehuda’s laboratory has produced more than 400 peer-reviewed publications from previous projects as well as over 10 edited volumes. Her work has been featured in several documentaries and lay media.
Linda M. Bierer, MD, Associate Professor
Linda M. Bierer MD joined the Psychiatry Department in 1986 as a research fellow, after having been a clinical fellow in the Biological Psychiatry Branch at the NIMH. She received a K award from the NIA to pursue work in Alzheimer’s Disease under the supervision of Dr. Kenneth L. Davis. She is currently Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a Staff Psychiatrist at the James J Peters VA Medical Center. Dr Bierer received an MD degree from Yale University School of Medicine where she completed a Psychiatry residency. Since 1999, Dr. Bierer has worked in the Yehuda lab and has been involved in all major studies since that time. She has assumed numerous roles ranging from medical direction of all clinical aspects of human research in the lab to overseeing complex database creation and analyses. She has been involved in descriptive and treatment studies of trauma and PTSD that have sought to identify neuroendocrine and more recently, molecular biomarkers associated with illness and symptom recovery and has been a major contributor to findings of glucocorticoid metabolism in Holocaust survivors, World Trade Center survivors, and Holocaust offspring and FKBP5 methylation as indices of intergenerational effects of trauma.
Julia Golier, MD, Associate Professor
Julia Golier, M.D. joined the Department of Psychiatry at ISMMS in 1996, where she is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry. She is also Chief Psychiatrist and Medical Director of the Mental Health Care Center at the James J Peters VA Medical Center. Dr. Golier received her medical degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and completed her medical and postdoctoral training at The New York Hospital and Cornell Medical, Payne Whitney Clinic and JJP VAMC. Dr. Golier joined the Yehuda lab in 1994 and has been the Principal Investigator of numerous awards from the Department of Defense and the VA that have focused on extending neuroendocrine findings in PTSD to veterans with both physical and psychological illnesses. Her research focuses on the unique psychological and medical health problems experienced by veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), commonly known as Gulf War Illness. Additionally, she has been involved in the development of novel treatments for PTSD, including leading a VA multi-site randomized clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of Mifepristone, a cortisol receptor antagonist, in reducing symptoms of PTSD. She has published more than fifty scientific papers on PTSD and Gulf War Illness.
Janine Flory, Ph.D, Associate Professor
Janine D. Flory, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of the Trauma & Readjustment Services (PTSD) clinic at JJP VAMC. She received a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas and completed postdoctoral training in Behavioral Medicine at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh. She joined the Psychiatry department at ISMMS in 2004 as an Assistant Professor of psychiatry. From 2006-2011 she was the Director of Clinical Training at the CUNY Neuropsychology Doctoral Program at Queens College. In 2011, she returned to ISMMS and joined the Yehuda Lab. Dr. Flory has received research funding from NIMH and the VA and has published more than one hundred scientific papers on diverse aspects of psychopathology including personality disorders, suicide and PTSD. An abiding interest in her work is a focus on how methodological advances and scientific practices can be used to answer critical questions about adult psychopathology. This includes work to understand how normal and abnormal personality factors are related and to identify explanations for the co-occurrence of psychiatric disorders and symptoms. A current area of research is an examination of comorbidity between PTSD and other conditions common in US military veterans including MDD and mild Traumatic Brain Injury.
Melissa Altman Stein, Ph.D, Assistant Professor
Dr. Melissa Altman Stein received her Ph.D in Clinical Psychology from George Mason University. Dr. Stein joined the Yehuda Lab as a clinical psychologist in 2006 and has more than ten years of experience serving the Veteran community and providing psychotherapy and trauma-focused treatment for PTSD and other trauma-related conditions. Dr. Altman helped launch studies in cognitive behavioral therapy in the Yehuda lab and has been instrumental as an indepdent evaluator and provider of psychotherapy. She has been involved in numerous studies of PTSD treatment in combat veterans and has played a major role in diagnostic assessments in Dr. Yehuda’s lab.
Laura Pratchett, PsyD, Assistant Professor
Laura Pratchett, PsyD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and a Clinical Psychologist in Trauma & Readjustment Services (PTSD) at JJP VAMC. She received her Psy.D in Clinical Psychology from the PGSP-Stanford University Consortium in 2009 and completed a postdoctoral clinical research fellowship with Dr. Yehuda at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center (JJP VAMC). Dr. Pratchett serves as a study psychologist and co-investigator on several of Dr. Yehuda’s research projects. Dr. Pratchett is the Team Leader of the Transition Clinic for Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans at the JJP VAMC and is a VA certified provider of trauma-focused therapy, such as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure (PE), and of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). Her research interests include PTSD treatment innovation and the role of shame and identity in trauma. Her current research study is evaluating the relationship between moral injury (a concept proposed to understand the consequences of combat trauma that relate to the experience of engaging in actions that conflict with a person’s morals) and PTSD and depression.
Amy Lehrner, Ph.D, Assistant Professor
Amy Lehrner, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and a Clinical Psychologist in Trauma & Readjustment Services (PTSD) at JJP VAMC. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical/Community Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and began a postdoctoral clinical research fellowship in the Yehuda lab in 2011. During that time, Dr. Lehrner developed an interest in PTSD treatment development and biological correlates of PTSD. As a member of the ISMMS Yehuda lab since 2011, she has participated in research on the effects of the Holocaust and PTSD on second generation survivors and on the treatment and biology of PTSD in US combat veterans. Prior to joining Dr. Yehuda’s lab, Dr. Lehrner conducted research and advocacy on intimate partner violence. She is currently supported by a VA Mentored Career Development Award (Dr. Yehuda is the primary mentor) that combines her interests in relationships and intimacy with trauma and PTSD, focusing on the effects of warzone stressors on subsequent sexual functioning and intimacy. She plans to continue to build a program of research that takes a comprehensive, psychobiological approach to PTSD and intimate relationships, investigating both basic mechanisms and therapeutic interventions.
Philip Szeszko, Ph.D, Associate Professor
Philip R. Szeszko, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Investigator Track) and a Psychologist at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center. Dr. Szezko joined the Yehuda Lab in 2016 to help expand efforts in neuroimaging and integration with molecular biology and endocrine studies in the lab. Dr. Szeszko’s current research focuses on the use of multimodal magnetic resonance imaging to discern brain structural and functional abnormalities and their functional correlates. A major focus of his research has been the investigation of white matter abnormalities in the neurobiology of schizophrenia and how deviations in the normal trajectory of white matter may contribute to psychiatric disorders. A consistent theme of his work has focused on the development of novel structural neuroimaging methods to measure the hippocampus from magnetic resonance images and applying these methods to study the effects of medications of hippocampal morphology. Dr. Szeszko has received grant funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, DANA Foundation, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He has authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and sits on the Editorial Boards of Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry and Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.
Mallory Bowers, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Mallory Bowers received her Ph.D in neuroscience from Emory University. She joined the Yehuda Lab as a postdoctoral fellow in January 2015 and has since received a Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award. Dr. Bowers’s long-term research interest is to uncover biological markers that are associated with PTSD. PTSD is twice as prevalent among women as men, raising questions about how biological factors that are differentially organized according to sex/gender might contribute to risk for PTSD. Dr. Bowers has is interested in exploring whether variation in estrogen hormones, including estradiol and estrone, is a risk factor for development of PTSD or whether estrogens are altered with pathophysiology of the disease. This work is being done through the support of the NIMH via an F32 NRSA. Additionally, Dr. Bowers is also developing a project to better understand how extreme stress can be transmitted across generations in combat-exposed military veterans.
Iouri Makotkine, MD, PhD, Bench Laboratory Director, Assistant Professor
Dr. Iouri Makotkine received his MD at Kemerovo State Medical Academy, Russia. Dr. Makotkine was employed at the Icahn School of Medicine in 1999 as research coordinator for the Yehuda Lab. In 2005, Dr. Makotkine became the laboratory director of Dr. Yehuda’s bench laboratory and a research assistant professor. Dr. Makotkine has developed most of the cellular and neuroendocrine protocols over the last 20 years with Dr. Yehuda, including protocols for the examination the influence of stress hormones in vitro in cultured mononuclear leukocytes. Dr. Makotkine continues to oversee all neuroendocrine and molecular biology assays conducted in the laboratory, as well as manage blood processing and bioassays for numerous collaborators within and outside of Mount Sinai.
Nikolaos P. Daskalakis, MD, Ph.D, Translational Neuroscientist, Assistant Professor
Nikolaos P. Daskalakis, M.D. Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Daskalakis earned his MD from University of Athens (Greece). He completed his PhD in neuroscience at Leiden University (The Netherlands) under the guidance of Dr. E. Ron de Kloet. He joined the Yehuda lab as a postdoctoral fellow in January 2012 and helped established RNA-based molecular assays and bioinformatic analysis pipelines for the integration of panomic and neuroendocrine data with clinical phenotyping. Dr. Daskalakis was promoted to associate researcher and then assistant professor in 2016. Dr. Daskalakis has played a pivotal role in the development of molecular assays and bioinformatics in the Yehuda lab that are needed for the identification of novel mechanisms and treatments for PTSD using Integrative Systems Biology approaches. Dr. Daskalakis currently has a NARSAD young investigator award, has authored or co-authored over 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and is an associate editor of Frontiers in Neuroscience and Frontiers in Endocrinology.
Frank Desarnaud, PhD, Molecular Biologist, Associate Researcher
Dr. Frank Desarnaud earned his PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology at University of Montpellier II in France. He joined the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Yehuda Lab in 2011 as an associate researcher after working in several leading molecular biology laboratories. He has acquired extensive experience in molecular biology and biochemistry including gene transcription regulation by steroid hormones and epigenetic mechanisms, gene expression assay and profiling, enzyme characterization, receptor purification and gene cloning. As a molecular biology scientist in Dr. Yehuda’s research group, Dr. Desarnaud has been directly involved in the development of the molecular assays and subsequent data analyses to study GR exon1F promoter methylation status, GR and FKBP5 expression by real-time PCR and GR allelic discrimination. Additionally, Dr. Desarnaud has established epigenetic assays that involve clone-based sequencing and next-generation sequencing during his time in the Yehuda Lab.
Changxin Xu, PhD, Bioinformatician, Associate Researcher
Dr. Changxin Xu received his Ph.D from Xiamen University, China in Molecular immunology in zoology. Dr. Xu joined the Yehuda Lab in 2016 after working for many years with molecular biology techniques such as RT-PCR, RNAseq, and SNP analysis. Dr. Xu has advanced experience with bioinformatics analyses such as R language for data analysis including Next-Gen Sequencing and microarray data analysis. Dr. Xu performs RNA-based molecular assays and bioinformatics analyses across projects in the Yehuda Lab.
Mitali Chattopadhyay, PhD, Cell Biologist, Associate Researcher
Dr. Mitali Chattopadhyay received her PhD in Life Sciences and Cancer Biology from Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India. Dr. Chattopadhyay joined the Yehuda Lab in 2016 and brought extensive knowledge in applied cellular biology from her previous experience investigating the mechanism of action of cancer therapeutics by developing and performing in vitro and in vivo models and assays. Dr. Chattopadhyay is an expert is cell biology and is establishing assays in human lymphocyte and induced neuron primary cultures in the Yehuda Lab.
Crystal Mora, BS, Lab Manager, Associate Researcher
Crystal Mora received her Bachelor of Science in Biomolecular Science with a minor in management from New York University, Polytechnic School of Engineering. She joined the Yehuda lab as a laboratory technician in 2013 and has advanced to the position of laboratory manager. Crystal is responsible for laboratory and sample organization. Additionally, Crystal processes samples, and performs cellular and neuroendocrine assays.
Clinical Research Staff
Heather Bader, BS, Program Manager, Senior Research Health Scientist
Heather Bader received her Bachelors of Science in Biology with a concentration in Neurobiology and Behavior from Cornell University. She joined the Yehuda Lab in 2011 as a clinical research coordinator through Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and has advanced in her research and administrative career under the guidance of Dr. Yehuda and her team. She is currently a Research Health Scientist in the Yehuda Lab at the James J. Peters VAMC. Her role in the team encompasses program management and administration, grant submission and management, regulatory reporting and oversight, financial management and budgeting, and employee hiring and supervision.
Alexander Ropes, BA, Clinical Research Coordinator
Alex Ropes graduated from Macalester College with a B.A. in Psychology and English in 2016. Before joining Dr. Yehuda’s Traumatic Stress Studies in August, 2016, lab he worked as a research assistant for Dr. Steve Guglielmo in Macalester College’s Morality and Social Cognition lab. Alex primarily coordinates Dr. Yehuda’s current treatment study and assists with data management.
Anna Augustinos, BS, Clinical Research Coordinator
Anna Augustinos graduated from the University of Rochester in 2015 with a B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Science and a B.A. in Psychology. Most recently, Anna worked as a research assistant to Dr. Tristram Smith at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. Since joining Dr. Yehuda’s lab in July, 2015, Anna has coordinated two different treatment studies.
Carly Walter, BS, Clinical Research Coordinator
Carly Walter received her B.S. from Central Michigan University in Psychology in 2015. She joined Dr. Yehuda’s lab in July, 2016, and currently coordinates several cross-sectional studies on combat veterans.
Michell Rodriguez, BA, Administrative Assistant to the Director}
Michell Rodriguez received her Bachelors of Arts in education. Ms. Rodriguez serves as the administrative assistant to the director. She is responsible for travel paperwork, scheduling, and human resources activities on behalf of the director.