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 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. 


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


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.

 

 

 
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UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS


Sam Ernst


Sam is currently in her fourth year of an undergraduate program in Behavioral Neuroscience at Northeastern University. She is completing a six-month co-op experience here at the Dunn lab. Previously, she worked as a co-op/research assistant with the Harvey Lab at Harvard Medical School and with the Suicide and Mental Health Research Group at the University of Otago, Wellington. Sam is interested in exploring the role of neuroplasticity and genetics as factors underlying mental illnesses such as depression. In the lab, she is hoping to gain a better understanding of the extent to which early life stress and biological factors predict mental health outcomes.

 

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.

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DATA ANALYSTS


Stephanie Schneider

Stephanie received a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University followed by an M.S. in Computer Science from Tufts University. In 2014 she received her Ph.D. in Bioinformatics from Boston University, completing her thesis on innovative methods for gene expression analysis and analysis of patterns of estrogen transcriptional regulation in multiple tissue types.  She works as a Senior Data Analyst in the Dunn Lab, analyzing gene expression related to sensitive period timing and the ability to predict emotion recognition accuracy and levels of internalizing symptoms.

 
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Yiwen graduated from Smith College in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Statistical & Data Sciences. She also received a Master of Science degree in Biostatistics from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2017. Her past research experience includes applying integrative approaches for causal mediation analyses as well as examining latent trauma subtypes on the population level. Joining the Dunn Lab as a data analyst, Yiwen is excited to apply her statistical skills and explore the underlying biological mechanisms (especially epigenetic changes) that connect early life adversity to psychopathology.

 
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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

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

Jenna Kiely

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

Zheng Kuang Former Masters student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Zheng Kuang

Former Masters student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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

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

Sandy Li

Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and   Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit.  

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

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

Nancy Wang Former Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit

Nancy Wang

Former Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit

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

Emily Moya

Former Research Assistant at the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental 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

Jenny Tse Former Masters student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Jenny Tse

Former Masters student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health