We are a multidisciplinary team of researchers from a range of fields, including epidemiology, public health, genetics, education, neurology, psychiatry, and psychology.
Erin C. Dunn is a social and psychiatric epidemiologist with expertise in genetics. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). She also holds an appointment in the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. Dr. Dunn’s research is centered on using cross-disciplinary approaches to better understand the social and genetic factors that influence the etiology of mental health problems. She focuses mainly on depression and anxiety among women, children, adolescents and other vulnerable populations (i.e., racial/ethnic minorities; individuals of low socioeconomic status). The long-term goal of her work is to identify the causal mechanisms underlying risk for depression, develop population-based strategies for prevention, and target these strategies to periods in development when they could have greatest impact. Dr. Dunn received a Doctor of Science in 2011 from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She trained under Drs. Karestan Koenen, Subu Subramanian, Felton Earls, and Katherine Masyn. Dr. Dunn also completed post-doctoral research training at MGH under Drs. Jordan Smoller and Jonathan Rosand. Dr. Dunn’s work has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
I was born and grew-up in Pistoia, Italy, where I’ve done most of my studies, including high school, where my strong interest in science began. Following my university studies, I graduated from medical school cum laude with a thesis on the genetics of memory at the University of Florence in 2009. I started the neurology residency right after at the same University, graduating cum laude last year. I was trained in the stroke Unit and I was responsible for clinical assessment, neuroimaging and neuropsychological evaluation in a study on the risk factors of cognitive disorders in the elderly. More recently, I spent one semester at the University of Genève, Switzerland, where I dedicated myself to advanced computational neuroimaging, studying functional and structural connectivity measures in vascular cognitive impairment. Finally, I spent six months in Albuquerque (NM) where I had the opportunity to become more familiar with molecular mechanisms of the white matter injuries, commonly seen in elderly patients. Cerebrovascular disease, genetics and aging brain are definitely my main interests that I would like to explore from different point of view.
Tom has a BA in environmental science from Boston University and a PhD in ecological genetics from the University of Washington. At UW, Tom examined how the physical environment influenced the distribution of genetic variation in space and time in a keystone species: the army ant Eciton burchellii. Most recently, Tom joined the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to translate research findings (evidence-based interventions) into practice and to leverage large, secondary datasets to gain insights about the effectiveness of those interventions in reducing chronic disease. In the Dunn lab, Tom is analyzing DNA methylation data for evidence of epigenetic modification due to “sensitive periods,” and the effect of those modifications on the development of depression in adolescence.
Jenny graduated from SUNY Binghamton in 2014 with a B.A. in Chemistry and is currently a master’s student in Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research interests include upstream interventions in public health, particularly social determinants of cardiovascular disease. She is currently involved in projects on timing of childhood adversities and psychiatric disorder outcomes.
Kristen graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012 with a B.A. in Psychology and is currently pursuing an M.Sc. at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Science. Her research examines the impact of behavior and chronic stress on the physical and mental health of disparate populations. Past work in psychology and immunology research in the veteran community has led her to investigate how stress impacts the development of disease and where possibilities for prevention or intervention might lie. In the lab, she hopes to apply an interdisciplinary focus to identify differences related to developmental timing of adversity exposure over the life course.
Meg graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 with a B.A. in the Biological Basis of Behavior, and received a M.Sc. in Epidemiology from Imperial College London in 2012. She is currently a doctoral student in Epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Her prior work includes research on the genetics of nicotine addiction and social risk factors on workplace mental health, which prompted her interest in both genetic and environmental risk factors and how their interplay leads to psychopathology. Meg is now using data from the Nurses’ Health Study II to determine how childhood adversity and the developmental timing of the exposure moderates the impact of genetic risk variants on mental disorders.
Zheng Kuang gained his dual degree in Urban and Rural Planning & Resource management and economics at Peking University in 2015. He is currently a pursuing his MS in environmental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In his undergraduate school, Zheng’s research interest was modeling of fine particle concentration using metrological data, and he is furthering his study high-dimensional spatial extrapolation of pollutants concentration at HSPH. As an unneglectable complement to environmental exposure, association between genetic factors and diseases has also drawn his interest. In the Dunn Lab, Zheng is studying the genes and gene-sets that are involved in regulating sensitive period, and their implication on psychological well-being.
Alice is a third year Behavioral Neuroscience student at Northeastern University. She is completing her second six-month co-op experience here at the Dunn lab. She hopes to attend medical school and become a primary care physician for under-served communities. She believes the research here give her a better understanding of the effects of adversity over the lifespan helping her treat patients more effectively. She would like to combine her interest in neuropharmacology with the research here to investigate treatment disparities in under-served communities..
Katherine is a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Center for Genomic Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Katherine graduated with a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Genetics, Genomics, and Development from Cornell University in 2015. While at school Katherine developed a keen interest in working with large scale genomic data as well as a budding curiosity for neurological diseases. Her previous research experience includes work with Equine Genetics as well as RNA editing in Arabidopsis. Katherine is assisting in analysis of data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).