I developed a strong intellectual interest in Psychiatry during my teen years. The pursuit of this interest manifested itself as studies in Medicine (University of Athens), clinical training in Psychiatry (Athens, London) and academic research in Psychiatric Genetics (initially as postdoctoral fellow in David Housman’s lab at MIT, staff scientist at the Hutch, and subsequently as faculty and Lab Head at Rockefeller University and Columbia University). The highlight of my research so far has been the discovery of the importance of rare genetic variants in schizophrenia etiology, starting with an early publication that established a significant role for chromosome 22q11.2 microdeletions in schizophrenia (Karayiorgou et al. PNAS 1995, 92(17):7612-6) and culminating with three recent publications that characterized the genome-wide landscape of rare genetic mutations (both point mutations and copy number mutations) in schizophrenia (Xu et al. Nature Genetics 2008, 40(7):880-5; Xu et al. PNAS 2009, 106(39):16746-51; Xu et al. Nature Genetics 2011, 43(9):864-8). I also pride myself in showing the right instinct to partner early on with neuroscientist Joseph Gogos from Columbia University, a partnership that allowed us to translate immediately the rare variant knowledge derived from human genetic studies into biological function and neurobiological studies in animal models. Another valuable early research partnership is the one with Louw Roos, who has been the cornerstone of the clinical recruitment component of our research program. I love opera, gourmet food and traveling. I also enjoy spending time with my amazing daughter Leonora.
Joseph Gogos received a M.D. from the National University of Greece (Athens) and a Ph. D. from Harvard University (Cambridge) where he worked with Fotis Kafatos on understanding the specificity of transcriptional control. Following a brief postdoc with the late Hal Weintraub in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle), Joseph spent five years in the laboratory of Richard Axel at Columbia University (New York) working on how sensory maps are formed in the mammalian brain. During this period Joseph also moonlighted in the laboratory of Maria Karayiorgou where, inspired by her pioneering work on rare mutations in schizophrenia, he helped generate some of the first genetic mouse models of the disease. When Joseph established his own laboratory and joined the faculty of Columbia University in 2001, he joined forces with Maria's lab to explore schizophrenia’s complex but fascinating genetic and neural landscape. Joseph enjoys art, opera, French new wave cinema and reading on history and philosophy of science. In the midst of his hectic schedule, he seeks out and savors life's simple pleasures such as the bright blue and white summer days in the Aegean sea.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurobiology (Psychiatry)
Bin Xu received his undergraduate degree in Genetics from Wuha University in China, a M.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Beijing Medical University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Genetics from Rutgers in New Jersey. His current studies include identification of de novo and rare inherited copy number mutations in human schizophrenia patients and exploring the relationship between abnormal microRNA gene expression and schizophrenia pathophysiology using animal models. In his free time he enjoys reading and watching Sci-Fi, taking long walks with his wife, and, when he gets the chance, playing volleyball and badminton.
Dr. Jun Mukai received his M.D. and Ph.D. from MieUniversity in Japan where he also trained as a psychiatrist. He has extensive clinical experience diagnosing and treating patients with schizophrenia as well as basic science research into the molecular alterations that predispose to this disorder. He hopes his research will identify new molecular targets for rationally designed, novel therapeutic approaches and that it will rewrite psychiatric textbooks. This will ultimately help galvanize a 21st century revolution towards the molecular understanding of the human mind that surpasses 20th century psychodynamic phenomenology. When not at the clinic or the lab, Dr. Mukai enjoys restoring classic American Spirit Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Mirna Kvajo received her undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Zagreb in Croatia and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Basel while at the Friedrich Miescher Institute. She currently studies the in vivo and in vitro cellular changes that result from genetic manipulations related to schizophrenia. She enjoys the simple pleasures in life like the austerity and serenity of silently efficient productivity.
Karine Fenelon completed her Ph.D in Neuroscience at the University of Montreal (Canada). Using electrophysiological and imaging techniques in lampreys, she studied the cellular mechanisms underlying the transformation of a sensory information into a locomotor output (sensorimotor integration). She is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Scientist and her research interests focus on testing for basic changes in brain function (synaptic transmission and plasticity) in mouse models with genetic mutations associated with the development of schizophrenia in humans.This work will enable a new understanding of functional errors that occur in the cortex and hippocampus of these mice, using electrophysiological recordings. Besides her interest for research, she enjoys traveling, scuba diving, rafting, camping, gardening and social activities.
Ziyi Sun received her bachelor's degree in Pharmacology from Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the master's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Nanjing University, China. In 2009, she graduated from Vanderbilt University with her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, where she received extensive training in electrophysiology in Dr. McMahon's lab. In her Ph.D. work, she studied mechanisms of the retinal neural network and focused her work on the hemi-gap-junction channel in horizontal cells. Her work focuses in utilizing electrophysiological techniques to study synaptic transmission between neurons generated by reprogramming cells from either mouse models or patients with schizophrenia. In her spare time, she likes baking, traveling, shopping and enjoying every happy moment with her family and friends.
Anastasia Diamantopoulou completed her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Athens (Greece). Using a novel early life stress model in rodents, she studied the effects of challenging mother-pup interactions on brain development and psychopathology-related behavior in adulthood, as well as, on relevant neurotransmitter brain systems. Her current work as a Post-Doctoral Research Scientist and her research interests focus on the genetic, rather than the environmental, contribution to psychopathology, most specifically schizophrenia. Using mouse models of schizophrenia risk mutations and sophisticated in vivo imaging and behavioral assays (with special emphasis on cognitive paradigms) she attempts to add to the understanding of alterations in local network function in these models. Apart from being fascinated by science, she also enjoys literature and European cinema, while relaxing by knitting or biking.
Gregg completed his doctoral work in the Neurobiology and Behavior Program at Columbia University where by a combined approach of electrophysiology and calcium imaging studies he explored the role of the TRPV1 and other ion channels in modulating neuronal function and synaptic transmission within the mammalian central nervous system at physiological temperatures. Having completed his undergraduate degree in chemistry, Gregg’s main interests center around understanding the pharmacology of neurotransmitter pathways in health and disease. His current work combines both biochemical and electrophysiology studies to explore the possible causal roles of the elevated CNS proline levels in the presumptive synaptic dysfunction underlying the 22q11 deletion-associated psychiatric symptoms. In his spare time Gregg enjoys reading about art history and visiting the various art museums in NYC. His favorite bed-time reading includes readings from the four tomes of The Metabolic and Molecular Bases of Inherited Disease.
Andrew is a postdoctoral scientist in the laboratories of Joseph Gogos and Joshua Gordon. He received his Ph.D. from Binghamton University where he investigated the electrophysiological properties and circuitry underlying gustatory processing. Andrew is interested in systems neuroscience, particularly mechanisms of neural coding and the relationship between network connectivity and spiking dynamics. Currently, he is investigating the impact of schizophrenia-associated genetic mutations on cortico-hippocampal synchrony in a mouse model. Andrew enjoys skiing in the winter and swimming and biking in the summer.
Sander Markx received his M.D. degree at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands). He completed his residency in psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University. He is currently interested in identifying copy number variations in specific patients’ populations who suffer from schizophrenia and generating animal models to study the pathogenesis of this debilitating disorder. Besides science, he enjoys art, literature, and music.
Talia received her undergraduate training from Oxford University in Physiological Sciences. She then went on to carry out her PhD in the lab of Dr Josef Kittler at University College London studying the role of DISC1 in intracellular transport mechanisms and protein aggregation. Talia is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow investigating the effect of copy number variance in schizophrenia on neuronal development, structure and function. In her free time she enjoys exploring the food, the art and the culture New York has to offer.
Pei-Ken Hsu is from Taipei, Taiwan. He received his BS in Zoology and MS in NationalTaiwanUniversity where he studied engulfment in C. elegans in NationalTaiwanUniversity before joining Columbia as a graduate student in 2005. Pei-ken’s research is focused on how common or rare schizophrenia-predisposing alleles altered miRNA expression and how this alteration in turns lead to morphological and functional changes that may contribute to the pathobiology of the disorder. Besides science, he loves baseball, and is a San Francisco Giants fan.
Rebecca Levy received a B.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience from YaleUniversity. She is currently in the Medical Science Training Program at ColumbiaUniversity working towards her M.D. and Ph.D. Her research interests include elucidating the mechanisms by which novel genetic risk factors for mental illnesses affect the development, structure, and function of the nervous system. As a physician and a scientist she hopes to apply an empirically guided holistic approach to alleviating human suffering. In her spare time she enjoys stimulating her hedonic centers via intellectual, gustatory, and physical means.
Tim graduated from Dartmouth College as a Psychology major. Working as a research assistant and lab manager in Columbia's Brain Stimulation lab, he became increasingly interested in the physiological underpinnings of behavior and cognition -- specifically, the ways in which neural oscillatory events and states can predict, and potentially facilitate, the neural mechanisms that underly events such as seizures, states such as mood, and cognitive processes such as memory. He entered the Columbia doctoral program in Physiology and Cellular Biochemistry in 2008, and he is currently a member of the Gogos and Gordon labs, where he is studying the effects of schizophrenia associated genes on neural circuitry in the mouse model.Tim leads a parallel life as a musician, in the loosest sense of the word, and he can often be found behind drum sets in various backrooms, basements, and concert halls across Brooklyn.
Scarlet received her B.A. in Neuroscience from Oberlin College. She became interested in the neurobiology of psychiatric illness through her coursework and various research experiences in her undergraduate career, and hopes to eventually pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in the field.
Outside of the lab she enjoys running, reading, and her work with children on the Autism Spectrum.
Adina graduated from Boston University with a major in Behavioral Biology. She became interested in neuroscience through her coursework, which led her to get involved in research. Before coming to Columbia, Adina studied the neurobiology of social behavior in ants and later investigated how neural activity in the entorhinal cortices contributes to learning and memory in rats. As a lab tech, Adina is excited to contribute to the understanding of the neural underpinnings of schizophrenia. In her spare time, Adina likes to visit art museums, attend ballets, and generally explore NY. She especially enjoys reading on the subway.
Caitlin received her B.S. in neuroscience from Muhlenberg College. Throughout her undergraduate education, she was involved in several laboratories that explored the effects of stress on protein synthesis activity and cognitive flexibility. Caitlin is most interested in the neural mechanisms of psychiatric disorders and hopes to continue to investigate this in the future. In her free time, she enjoys exploring New York City, attending concerts, and biking along the Hudson River.
Rozanna’s past experience in human resources working for the Government of Ontario, Canada has allowed her to be an effective member of the team where she manages the administration of the labs. In her spare time, Rozanna enjoys reading, travelling, cooking and exploring New York City which she has recently decided to call home after living in Canada for many years.