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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Meet Our Team: Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program

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Faculty

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Sanjay J Mathew, M.D.

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Professor, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Mathew is the Director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program.  He is also Vice Chair for Research in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a Staff Physician at the Michael E. Debakey VA Medical Center. His areas of expertise include neuropsychopharmacology and translational research in treatment-resistant depression, anxiety and PTSD. 

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Alan Swann, M.D.

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Professor, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Alan Swann does clinical and translational research focusing on behavior, neurophysiology, and biomarkers related to action control and behavioral sensitization. The goal of this work is to develop new diagnostic measures and drug therapies for refractory bipolar disorders, suicidal behavior, alcoholism, and PTSD.

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Asim Shah, M.D.

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Professor, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Family and Community Medicine

Dr. Asim Shah is the Chief of Psychiatry at Harris Health and Ben Taub Hospital and Executive Vice Chair for the Menninger Department of Psychiatry. His interests include treatment resistant depression, mood disorders, psychosis and behavior health integration. He oversees several Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials at Harris Health. 

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Marijn Lijffijt, Ph.D.

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Assistant Professor, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Marijin Lijffijt, PhD, investigates neuropharmacological mechanisms of, and novel treatments targets for difficult-to-treat psychiatric and neurological disorders, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, severe suicidality, Gulf War Illness, and misophonia. 
 

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Brittany O’Brien, Ph.D.

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Assistant Professor, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Brittany O’Brien, Ph.D. is interested in the development of novel and innovative therapies for patients with chronic, treatment-resistant anxiety, and mood disorders. Her current research projects include a multi-site collaboration with private community clinics to explore real-world outcomes and patient-specific factors that influence ketamine treatment response. 
 

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Shirali Patel M.D.

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Assistant Professor, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Shirali Patel is a research psychiatrist for several clinical trials in Major Depressive Disorder and Treatment-resistant depression.   In addition, she oversees the rTMS treatment program at the Baylor Psychiatry Clinic.

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Ali Ashgar-Ali, M.D.

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Associate Professor, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Ali Ashgar-Ali is the Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Director who is a co-investigator on a randomized trial comparing ketamine and ECT. He has an educational grant through the Veterans Health Administration Office of Rural Affairs for the development of suicide assessment and management training.

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Affiliated Faculty

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Ramiro Salas, Ph.D.

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Associate Professor

Ramiro Salas, Ph.D. uses functional brain imaging to study the neuronal circuits that are involved in the processing of reward and disappointment, and how these circuits are changed in addiction, depression, and other conditions. His lab is also developing gene expression data-mining techniques to obtain anatomical hypotheses of disease from genetic screenings.

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Allison Wells, M.D., MBA, FASA

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Voluntary Faculty, BCM Department of Anesthesiology

In addition to her voluntary faculty appointment, Dr. Allison Wells is a Partner at Northwest Anesthesiology and Pain and Medical Director of Lone Star Infusion. Her research interests include ketamine for depression, anxiety, and PTSD and the combination of holistic and anesthetic treatment approaches for mood disorders. 
 

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Chadi Abdallah, M.D.

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Associate Professor

Dr. Chadi Abdallah has expertise in antidepressant clinical trials, translational clinical neuroscience, multimodal neuroimaging, and the development of rapid-acting antidepressants for the treatment of depression, PTSD, and other stress-related psychiatric disorders. His research program focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying trauma, depression, and chronic stress, with emphasis on the role of synaptic connectivity and neuroenergetics.  
 

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Post Doctoral Fellows, Staff and Trainees

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Tabish Iqbal, MBBS

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Program Administration Supervisor

In addition to the Program Research Administration Supervisor, Tabish Iqbal an International Medical Graduate and ECFMG certified. He oversees the regulatory, clinical, and financial components of the program. He is particularly interested in NMDA Receptor Antagonists for Treatment of Depression. His objective as a scientist/researcher is to understand the statistical and practical significance implications to different treatment responses. 
 

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Nithya Ramakrishnan

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Senior Scientific Programmeer

Nithya is a senior data analyst and programmer. She leads the development and implementation of methods for acquisition, analysis and visualization of data from multimodal brain stimulation and recording platforms.

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Nicholas Murphy

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Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Nicholas is interested in neuromodulation and translational neurophysiological biomarkers of mood disorders. His current research projects include an NIH funded study of prefrontal cortical excitability and its relationship to rTMS response in patients with depression.
 

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Sidra Iqbal

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Senior Research Coordinator

Sidra is responsible for coordinating the lab’s Ketamine and ECT trials.   
 

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Brittany Vo-Le

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Senior Research Coordinator

Brittany is responsible for coordinating NIMH-funded trials as well as a PCORI funded comparative effectiveness study for Treatment-Resistant Depression. She is also proficient in RedCap database management.
 

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Bylinda Vo-Le

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Research Coordinator II

Bylinda is responsible for coordinating the lab’s Gulf War Illness and American Foundation Suicide Prevention projects.
 

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Patricia Passalaqua

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Research Coordinator I

Patricia assists with initial patient phone screening and database entry. 

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Celine Nguyen

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Intern 

Celine assists with data entry, phone screening, and supporting a variety of research projects and efforts in the lab. She is currently a sophomore at Rice University and plans to double major in Psychology and Biochemistry and Cell Biology. Her particular research interests include investigating novel therapies for treatment-resistant mood disorders and severe suicidality. 

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Ashna Karpe

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Intern

Ashna assists with data entry, phone screening, and supporting a variety of research projects and efforts in the lab. She is currently a sophomore at Rice University and plans to major in Psychology. Her particular research interests include the effects of investigational medications such as ketamine and nitrous oxide in treating depression and real world outcomes of ketamine treatment.