We are a multidisciplinary team of researchers from a range of fields, including epidemiology, public health, genetics, education, neurology, psychiatry, and psychology.

 


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR


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 KoenenSubu SubramanianFelton 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. 


POST-GRADUATES


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.


GRADUATE STUDENTS


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 Nishimi

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 Min-Jung Wang

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

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.

 


UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS


Jessica Dampier

Jessica is a third year Psychology student at Northeastern University.  She is completing her first six-month co-op experience here at the Dunn lab.  She hopes to pursue a career in mental health counseling, and currently advocates for accessible, comprehensive mental health services on college campuses. She believes the research at the Dunn lab will give her a better understanding of the effects of adversity during sensitive periods on mental health over the lifespan. She would like to use this research in her future career to develop and provide more effective, client-centered treatments for mental illness.

 

 

 

 

Nancy Wang

Nancy is a rising sophomore studying Economics and Computer Science at John Hopkins University. Nancy hopes to use her skills to alleviate economic inequality and connect people with the resources they need, and currently volunteers as a case manager for disadvantaged citizens in Baltimore. She will be examining socioeconomic status at the Dunn Lab, from which she hopes to gain a better understanding of the diverse factors that play a role in social and economic well-being.


RESEARCH ASSISTANTS


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). 

 

Katie Davis

Katie graduated from Brown University in 2012 with a B.A. in Gender & Sexuality Studies, and received an M.A. in Psychology from Brandeis University in 2017.  Her research at Brandeis focused on the developmental sequelae of childhood abuse in a sample of male juveniles who had sexually offended.  As a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Dunn Lab, Katie hopes to continue to explore the extent to which early life adversity and genetic variation predict subsequent psychopathology.

KDAVIS Headshot.jpg

ALUMNI


David Steefel-Moore Former Masters student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

David Steefel-Moore

Former Masters student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Sandy Li Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and   Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit. 

Sandy Li

Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and   Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit. 

Miriam Raffeld Former Research Technician at the Center for Genomic Medicine

Miriam Raffeld

Former Research Technician at the Center for Genomic Medicine

Stephanie Gomez Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit

Stephanie Gomez

Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit

Yael Dai Former Clinical Research Coordinator at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit

Yael Dai

Former Clinical Research Coordinator at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit

Daniel Busso Former Doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Daniel Busso

Former Doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Virginia Fisher Former Data Analyst and PhD Candidate at Boston University

Virginia Fisher

Former Data Analyst and PhD Candidate at Boston University

Tom Soare Former Senior Data Analyst at the Center for Genomic Medicine

Tom Soare

Former Senior Data Analyst at the Center for Genomic Medicine

Yan Wang Former Masters student at the Boston University School of Public Health

Yan Wang

Former Masters student at the Boston University School of Public Health

Jenna Kiely Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit. 

Jenna Kiely

Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit. 

Emily Moya Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelomental Genetics Unit

Emily Moya

Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelomental Genetics Unit

Alice Renaud Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit

Alice Renaud

Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit