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


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.


GRADUATE STUDENTS


Daniel Busso is a fifth-year doctoral student in Human Development and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He holds a BSc. in Psychology from the University of Bath, an MSc. in Cognitive and Decision Sciences from University College London, and an Ed.M in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University. Daniel's core research interest is to understand how early adversity (particularly childhood maltreatment) compromises neural circuits that support cognition, emotion and learning. By using the tools of developmental neuroscience, his ultimate goal is to generate knowledge to guide the development and implementation of school-based policies and practices to support at-risk youth. At the Dunn Lab, Daniel is using data from the Fragile Families study to explore longitudinal associations between timing of exposure to maltreatment and later developmental 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

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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.

 


UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS


Jenna Kiely

Jenna is a student at Northeastern University and is expecting to receive her Bachelor of Science in Psychology in May 2016. She is interested in the early development of mood disorders in children, and the role that environmental factors, such as socioeconimic class or stressful life events, play. She is also interested in how these events may be patterned by gender and race. In the lab, she will be working on projects related to studying the effects of childhood adversity and risk for depression.

Sandy Li

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Sandy Li is currently an undergraduate student at Harvard College and expects to graduate in May 2018. She is thinking about concentrating in Cognitive Neuroscience & Evolutionary Psychology. She is interested in both psychology and biology and hopes to use an interdisciplinary approach in her research. Her research interests include psychiatric disorders, human development, and evolution. She is a Research Assistant in the lab, conducting literature searches, assisting with the preparation of papers for publication, and updating the website. 


RESIDENTS


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Joel is a behavioral neurologist and neuropsychiatrist with expertise in epidemiology and health services management. His long-term goal is to develop and deploy strategies to prevent the development of devastating chronic brain disease. His current work in the lab focuses on identifying modifiable risk and protective factors linked to the development of depression after stroke. In this area, Joel is analyzing data from several large-scale longitudinal cohorts, including the Framingham Heart Study and the Women’s Health Initiative. After graduating from Cornell University, Joel completed medical school at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine followed by neurology residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women's Hospital.


RESEARCH ASSISTANTS


Miriam Raffeld
Miriam is a research technician in the Center for Human Genetic Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Miriam graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2013 (magna cum laude) with a BA in Biology. While at Mount Holyoke College, she took many classes with a focus on neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS and Alzheimer’s disease, looking at both the genetic predictors of these disorders and the current therapies that exist for these diseases. In the lab, Miriam is assisting in the analysis of data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). 


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

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

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