Columbia University Medical Center
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NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell


Rachel Marsh, Ph.D.
Lab Director
Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology (in Psychiatry)
Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Columbia University Medical Center
The New York State Psychiatric Institute

Dr. Rachel Marsh received a B.A. in Psychology from Skidmore College and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the City University of New York. The focus of her graduate work was on cognitive and language development in infants. During her postdoctoral training, she began developing expertise in fMRI techniques and studying the functioning and development of the fronto-striatal circuits that support self-regulatory capacities in healthy individuals and in those with psychopathologies that emerge during childhood and adolescence (e.g., Tourette Syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and eating disorders). She is currently conducting a longitudinal multimodal MRI study aimed at understanding how abnormalities in overlapping frontostriatal neural circuits contribute to the persistence of Bulimia Nervosa over adolescence and adulthood. With her collaborators, Dr. Marsh is also studying how the circuits that support control and reward processes change following the remission of symptoms in adult and pediatric OCD, and how these circuits are involved in learning disabilities in children. In summary, Dr. Marsh’s research investigates the functioning and structure of the neural circuits that support self-regulation, learning, and memory in normal development and in the development of childhood psychiatric disorders. The overarching goal of this work is to determine when in development abnormalities in these circuits arise, so that we can determine where, when and how to intervene, and thereby prevent illness persistence.


Amy MargolisAmy Margolis, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, Promise Project Reading Study
Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry)

Amy Margolis has a Ph.D. in Applied Educational Psychology: School Psychology, and an MSEd in Neuroscience and Education from Teachers College. In the first decade of her career, she established a comprehensive assessment and treatment program for children with learning disabilities and attention disorders. In 2010, Dr. Margolis transitioned to a research career and completed the NIMH-funded T32 in research in child psychiatry in 2013, becoming an Assistant Professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Her research aims to understand how learning problems are related to underlying deficiencies in the structure and function of neural systems that support learning processes. With funding from the Promise Project at Columbia University, she is using MRI to examine how neural circuits that support cognitive control and learning processes produce reading disorder and with funding from the NVLD Project, she is studying children with non-verbal learning disability. Dr. Margolis is the recent recipient of an NIEHS-funded K award to study how exposure to neurotoxic chemicals may affect neurodevelopment and manifest as subsequent learning and social problems. Her research program seeks to inform the development of novel therapeutics and early prevention programs for people with learning disabilities.


Xiaofu He, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurobiology

Dr. He received his Ph.D. in Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Systems from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. During his graduate studies, he was trained in the research of image processing and pattern recognition with a focus on biometrics. During his postdoctoral training, Dr. He developed expertise in brain imaging including structural MRI, functional MRI (fMRI) and, particularly, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). One of Dr. He’s long term goals is to bring together his expertise in image processing, pattern recognition, computational modeling, and neuroimaging to the challenge of understanding the developing brain, leading to more reliable findings in the important area of clinically oriented-neuroimaging research and to better understand the mechanisms of depression, and other psychiatric disorders.


Marilyn Cyr, Ph.D., Psy.D.
Post-doctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Cyr received a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology and a Psy.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM). Her graduate research focused on examining the role of brain neurochemical systems in cognition and behavior, using various techniques such as PET imaging. Her clinical pre-doctoral internship focused on the treatment of patients with pathological eating and patients with OCD. In recent years, she has developed an interest in the neurobiology and treatment of disorders characterized by deficits in self-regulation (inhibition, emotion regulation and impulse control), particularly eating disorders. Since joining Dr. Marsh’s lab, Dr. Cyr has examined alterations in brain circuits that support cognitive control, reward processing and learning in adolescents with bulimia nervosa. She’s using brain imaging, statistical models and machine learning to identify potential biomarkers of impulsive-compulsive behaviors and associated disorders.


Katie DavisKatie Davis, Psy.D.
Post-doctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Davis received her Master’s of Science and Doctor of Psychology degrees at Yeshiva University, followed by teaching fellowships. She then completed a postdoctoral clinical fellowship at the Brooklyn Learning Center, where she diagnosed and treated learning and attention disorders. Her clinical work and research as a doctoral student focused on the neurobiological bases and treatment of learning disabilities, and she is now working with Drs. Marsh and Margolis to study the functioning and functional connectivity of neural circuits underlying reading disorder in young children.



Mirjana Domakonda, M.D.
Post-doctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Mirjana Domakonda received her B.S. in Biology at The College of New Jersey, and earned her M.D. at The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. During medical school she developed an interest in childhood obesity and eating disorders, studying the impact of statewide BMI screenings on Pennsylvania’s school-age youth. Dr. Domakonda completed her Adult Psychiatry Residency at The University of Massachusetts Medical School. During her residency training, she refined her clinical skills and research interests, with an ongoing focus on disordered eating and its impact on psychological function. She recently completed her Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program of Columbia and Cornell Universities. During this clinical fellowship, she began working with Dr. Rachel Marsh and received pilot funding from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to study attention bias and the functioning of attentional circuits in adolescents with bulimia nervosa. She is currently pursuing a clinical research career as an NIMH T32 Postdoctoral Fellow for Translational Research in Child Psychiatry at Columbia University. Dr. Domakonda plans to devote her career to developing novel treatments to target the underlying neural and biological disturbances that may contribute to the persistence of eating disorder symptoms in children and adolescents.


Mihaela Stefan, M.A.
Lab Manager
Research Associate

Mihaela received a B.A. in communication sciences with a concentration in linguistics and languages from the University of Bucharest. She later received an M.A. from SNSPA Bucharest in communication sciences. In 2010, Mihaela began volunteering at NYSPI where she learned about MRI data acquisition and processing. Mihaela is now the manager of the Cognitive Development and Neuroimaging Lab, overseeing all MRI data acquisition, data storage, anatomical and functional image processing, as well as training and coordinating the activities for volunteers and other research assistants.


Emily Steinberg, B.A.
Project Coordinator

Emily graduated from the University of Michigan in 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology. As an undergraduate, Emily studied the impact of the birth of a sibling on children's behavioral adjustment across the transition to siblinghood. Emily first joined NYSPI as a volunteer at the Pediatric Anxiety and Mood Research Clinic (PAMRC), where she worked on a study exploring the addition of a novel antibiotic treatment to SRI medication for youth with treatment-resistant OCD. In her current role, Emily coordinates Dr. Marsh's research studies, which investigate the neural circuits implicated in pediatric and adult OCD as well as adolescent bulimia nervosa. Emily is interested in studying the impact of parental anxiety on children’s treatment outcomes and the modification of cognitive-behavioral therapy for young children. Emily plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.


Kate Terranova, B.A.
Project Coordinator
Graduate Student at Fordham University

Kate graduated from George Washington University in 2012 with a BA in Psychology. She has worked with adolescents for the past five years through various volunteer programs and research projects. Most recently, she coordinated a clinical trial at Mount Sinai Hospital that was aimed at assessing the effectiveness of a particular treatment for individuals with comorbid major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Kate is currently interested in learning more about the neural circuits/pathways that are implicated in psychiatric illnesses and how these pathways develop and change with illness severity and age. She would specifically like to learn how anxiety and depression are associated with the various psychiatric illnesses we study in the lab.


Martine Fontaine, B.A.
Research Assistant

Martine obtained a B.S. in Psychology from Montpellier 3 University Paul-Valery where she also completed the first year of a MA in Clinical Psychology and Mental Health. She began training at the Institute of Family Therapy in France before moving to the US. Martine began volunteering for Dr. Marsh in 2011 and learning neuroimaging techniques. She is now responsible for acquiring multi-modal imaging data from our research participants with Bulimia Nervosa, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, and healthy control participants. She is also responsible for processing the anatomical data acquired for these participants. Martine is currently expanding her knowledge of computerized brain models by beginning an introduction to FreeSurfer (a software program). These diverse experiences are allowing Martine to explore her research interests prior to pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.


Lauren Thomas, Ed.M., NCSP
Research Assistant

Lauren graduated from the George Washington University in 2012 with a BA in Psychology and a Secondary Degree in Business Administration. As an undergraduate, Lauren was a Research Assistant in the Health Cognitions and Behavior Lab, and studied college student's thoughts and beliefs about health issues (i.e. skin cancer). Lauren went on to graduate from Teachers College in 2015 with an EdM in School Psychology and a MA in Educational Psychology: Schooling. She now works as a Research Assistant and coordinates Dr. Amy Margolis' research studies, which investigate learning disabilities in children.



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