Skip to main content
UC Davis MIND Institute

UC Davis MIND Institute

mind_institute Error processing SSI file

Faculty Biographical Information 

David G. Amaral, Ph.D. (PDF) - Beneto Foundation Chair and Director of Research, MIND Institute; University of California Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Center for Neuroscience, School of Medicine; Core Investigator, California National Primate Research Center

David G. Amaral, Ph.D. received his undergraduate education at Northwestern University and graduated with a degree in Psychology. He then moved to the University of Rochester where he received a joint Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Psychology. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Washington University. He then moved to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies where he remained for 13 years. During this period he was also an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego. 

Dr. Amaral joined the University of California, Davis in 1995 as a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Neuroscience. He is also a staff scientist at the California National Primate Research Center. Dr. Amaral was named the Beneto Foundation Chair and Research Director of the MIND (Medical Investigations of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute in 1998. The MIND Institute is dedicated to understanding the biological bases of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders with the goal of developing preventative measures and innovative treatments.

Dr. Amaral’s laboratory pursues research programs dealing with the neurobiology of primate social behavior and with the development and neuroanatomical organization of the primate and human amygdala and hippocampal formation. He has also carried out a longstanding program designed to understand the organization of brain regions involved in memory. His research now also includes postmortem studies of the autistic brain and magnetic resonance imaging studies of children with autism spectrum disorders. As Research Director of the MIND Institute, he is currently coordinating a comprehensive and multidisciplinary analysis of children with autism called the Autism Phenome Project to define biomedical characteristics of different types of autism. This project will lead to more effective, hypothesis driven research on the causes of each type of autism and ultimately to more effective treatments. Dr. Amaral has also spearheaded efforts to establish animal models of autism and has been evaluating the potential immune basis of certain forms of autism.

Dr. Amaral has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 25 years and has received two prestigious MERIT awards from the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Amaral has received research awards from the McKnight Foundation, the Sloan Foundation and more recently from the Macarthur and McDonnell Foundations. He has successfully launched a peer-reviewed journal, Hippocampus and has been Editor-in-Chief of the International Brain Research Organization’s journal, Neuroscience. He has co-edited an authoritative book on the hippocampal formation aptly called, The Hippocampus book.  He has recently been named a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator.

Beginning in 2009, Dr. Amaral was appointed to the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health. In May of 2009, he was elected President of the International Society of Autism Research that holds the annual International Meeting for Autism Research and publishes the journal Autism Research. In July 2009, he was awarded the title of University of California Distinguished Professor as acknowledgment of a meritorious academic and research career. In the fall of 2009, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He recently co-edited the book Autism Spectrum Disorders with Geri Dawson and Daniel Geschwind published by Oxford University Press that was published in May of 2011.

For additional information, contact Dr. Amaral at or (916) 703-0237.

Robert F. Berman, Ph.D. (PDF) - Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, School of Medicine; Director of Research, Neurotrauma Research Laboratory, UC Davis

Dr. Berman, a neuroscientist whose research focuses on cellular mechanisms of brain injury, is currently examining the effects of neonatal toxin exposure on brain development and behavior.  This research is carried out in collaboration with the Center for Children’s Environmental Health.  His laboratory recently developed a set of behavioral testing procedures for evaluating social behaviors in rodents, an essential step in the development of useful models for the study of neurodevelopmental disorders like autism. Dr. Berman is also a member of the NeuroTherapeutics Research Institute (NTRI) at UC Davis that is studying the genetic disorder Fragile X-associated Tremor Ataxia (FXTAS).  Dr. Berman’s laboratory is using transgenic mice to model FXTAS in order to understand the underlying pathophysiology and to test novel therapeutics to improve neurological outcome in FXTAS.  Dr. Berman’s research and training activities have been funded by the NIH for the past 30 years, and his research is currently funded by NINDS and NIEHS.  He is currently Director of Research for the Neurotrauma Research Laboratories at UC Davis.

For additional information, contact Dr. Berman at or (530) 754-5102.

Simeon Boyadjiev Boyd, M.D. - Children’s Miracle Network Endowed Chair, Associate Professor and Chief of the Section of Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine

Dr. Boyd is a medical geneticist and pediatrician, who joined UC Davis and the MIND Institute in June 2006, accepting a position in the Department of Pediatrics as Children’s Miracle Network Endowed Chair and Chief of the Section of Genetics. His prior achievements include identification of the gene responsible for Oculo-Dento-Digtal dysplasia; establishing a multi-institutional project focused on the analysis of craniosynostosis and bladder exstrophy; and the delineation of several novel dysmorphic syndromes. His laboratory is currently involved in studies of non-Mendelian (multifactorial) birth defects, using approaches that can be applied to the genetic analysis of other complex traits, i.e. autism, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. Dr. Boyd’s laboratory is also involved in identification and characterization of genetic syndromes due to defects of the intracellular secretory pathway, and has recently identified and characterized one such syndrome, Cranio-Lenticulo-Sutural dysplasia. Dr. Boyd has trained many medical students and residents, and currently has two graduate students working in his laboratory. In addition to his research activities, Dr. Boyd directs the clinical activities of the Section of Genetics that provides campus-wide clinical services.

For additional information, contact Dr. Boyd at or (916) 703-0446.

Cameron S. Carter, M.D. - Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine; Director, UC Davis Imaging Research Center, UCDHS

Dr. Carter is a senior neuroscientist who is both a cognitive neuroscientist, as well as a clinical and translational investigator. His research focuses on the contributions of the frontal cortex to human higher cognitive functions and on the mechanisms that underlie disturbances in the circuits in neurodevolopmental disorders such as schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Carter has trained over 30 pre-doctoral and postdoctoral students, and is currently mentoring two postdoctoral fellows and several junior faculty members. Dr. Carter is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology and Director of the Imaging Research Center.  By focusing the expertise and resources of this state-of-the-art, MRI-based Imaging Research Center on imaging and clinical neuroscience and emphasizing multimodal imaging approaches, his goal is to further increase our understanding of the pathophysiology of impaired cognition in mental disorders and the training of a new generation of translational cognitive and affective neuroscientists.

For additional information, contact Dr. Carter at or (916) 734-7783.

Jeffrey P. Gregg, M.D. - Associate Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, School of Medicine

During the last several years, Dr. Gregg, an expert in microarray technology, has moved into the neurosciences and research on autism.  In the autism arena, Dr. Gregg has taken a unique approach to studying autism in which he uses microarray technology to perform gene expression studies of the entire genome of peripheral lymphocytes in order to identify genes associated with autism.  This approach, called “blood genomics” has great potential but is still in its infancy.  In the recent year, Dr. Gregg has had several exciting publications on this subject.  These data suggest that blood genomics may be able to identify biomarkers for diagnosis and classification of autism.  In addition to these microarray studies, he is adapting microarray technology to identify gains and losses (i.e., duplications and deletions) in the genome of children with autism.

For additional information, contact Dr. Gregg at or (916) 703-0362.

Randi J. Hagerman, M.D (PDF) -  Endowed Chair in Fragile X Research and Medical Director, MIND Institute; Professor, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine

Dr. Randi Hagerman is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician and the Medical Director of the MIND Institute at UC Davis.  She is internationally recognized as both a clinician and researcher in the fragile X field.  Dr. Hagerman received her M.D. from Stanford University where she also carried out her Pediatric residency.  She completed a Fellowship in Learning and Disabilities and Ambulatory Pediatrics at UC San Diego and, subsequently, spent the next 20 years from 1980 to 2000 at the University of Colorado where she headed Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.  She co-founded the National Fragile X Foundation in 1984 in Colorado and developed a world-renowned fragile X research and treatment center.  In 2000, Professor Hagerman moved to UC Davis to be the Medical Director of the MIND Institute.  Dr. Hagerman and her team discovered the Fragile X-associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS) which is a neurological disorder that affects older male and rare female carriers of fragile X.  Dr. Hagerman’s research involves genotype-phenotype correlations in fragile X and she carries out this research in collaboration with her husband, Paul Hagerman, M.D., Ph.D.  Professor Randi Hagerman has written over 200 peer-reviewed articles and numerous book chapters on neurodevelopmental disorders.  She has written several books on fragile X including a 3rd Edition of Fragile X Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Research which was published in 2002 by Johns Hopkins University Press.  Dr. Hagerman has received numerous awards for her research in fragile X syndrome including the Jerrett Cole Award from the National Fragile X Foundation for unselfish dedication to work with fragile X children and adults, the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Award for Science including Medicine, the IASSID Distinguished Achievement Award for Scientific Literature, the 2005 Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award from UC Davis, and the 2006 Dean’s Award for Outstanding Mentoring at UC Davis.  In 2004, to honor both Randi and Paul Hagerman in recognition of their work in FXTAS, the National Fragile X Foundation established the Hagerman Award.  This award recognizes research accomplishments in the field of FXTAS and is given at the bi-annual International Conference on Fragile X.  In 2008, the National Fragile X Foundation again honored Dr. Hagerman with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Hagerman has worked internationally to establish fragile X clinical programs and research programs throughout the world.  Dr Hagerman is currently carrying out multiple targeted treatment trials in FXS and in autism including a controlled trial of Arbaclofen, minocycline, ganaxolone, mGluR5 antagonists developed by Roche and another by Novartis, and sertraline. She is also the PI of a controlled trial of memantine in older fragile X premutation carriers with FXTAS.

For additional information, contact Dr. Hagerman at or (916) 703-0247.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Ph.D., M.P.H. - Professor, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine

Dr. Hertz-Picciotto is an epidemiologist and professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, Deputy Director of the UC Davis Center for Children's Environmental Health, and Principal Investigator of the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment Study (CHARGE - funded by the NIEHS). She is a recognized expert in the use of epidemiologic data for quantitative risk assessments of environmental chemical exposures. Her past and ongoing research has addressed effects of lead, arsenic, pesticides, PCBs, and air pollution on pregnancy, early childhood respiratory health, and neurodevelopment. In addition she has developed methods to validate risks from complex chemical mixtures, compare animal experiments with human studies, and perform statistical analysis of studies where exposures change over time.  Dr. Hertz-Picciotto has chaired the doctoral committees of 17 graduate students in epidemiology, three of whom won prizes for their work from professional organizations, and six of whom hold faculty positions at academic institutions. Dr. Hertz-Picciotto has also served on 34 other doctoral student committees and 13 masters student committees. Dr. Hertz-Picciotto is past President of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, and has chaired numerous Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Sciences Committees, including, in 2002, Health Effects in Vietnam Veterans of Exposure to Agent Orange and other Herbicides.  She serves on the editorial board of several leading epidemiology journals, on scientific advisory boards for the State of California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, among others, and has taught courses in Brazil, Uzbekhistan, North Carolina, Michigan, France, Chile, and Berkeley.

For additional information, contact Dr. Hertz-Picciotto at or (530) 752-3025.

David Hessl, Ph.D. (PDF)  -  Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine

Dr. Hessl's clinical interests involve cognitive, emotional, and behavioral evaluation of children, adolescents and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders, especially those with fragile X syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and learning disabilities. He also has expertise in developmental psychopathology, particularly mood and anxiety disorders, in infants and young children. Dr. Hessl received his Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington in 1997, which included a clinical internship at Stanford University, and received postdoctoral fellowship training at the UC Berkeley Institute of Human Development during 1997-1998. He has focused his recent research on genetic, environmental and hormonal contributions to cognition and behavior in children with fragile X syndrome. Dr. Hessl has developed a laboratory to investigate the emotional psychophysiology of children with neurodevelopmental disorders at the UC Davis MIND Institute, where his work currently concentrates on autism, fragile X syndrome, and most recently individuals who are carriers of the fragile X gene. Several of the measures developed in his laboratory are currently being used as experimental outcome measures in clinical trials of individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders.  He also conducts collaborative studies with other researchers, investigating brain imaging, molecular genetics and neuropsychology in an effort to understand links between genetics, brain function and behavior.

For additional information, contact Dr. Hessl at or (916) 703-0249.

Janine M. LaSalle, Ph.D. (PDF) - Associate Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and Rowe Program in Human Genetics, School of Medicine

Dr. LaSalle is a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, Davis, with memberships in the Genome Center, Rowe Program in Human Genetics, and the MIND Institute.  Dr. LaSalle serves on the editorial board of the journal Human Molecular Genetics and Molecular Autism, scientific advisory boards of the International Rett Syndrome Foundation and Dup15q Alliance Foundation.  The research focus in Dr. LaSalle’s laboratory is on epigenetics of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, Rett syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Angelman syndrome, and 15q duplication syndrome.  Dr. LaSalle’s laboratory has developed multiple innovative approaches for epigenetic investigations using genetic mouse models, neuronal cultures, and postmortem human brain.  Dr. LaSalle’s laboratory has been successful in the use of genomic and epigenomic technologies to investigate the role of MeCP2 in the pathogenesis of Rett syndrome and autism spectrum disorders. Dr. LaSalle is the chair of the Genetics Graduate Group, and a member of three other graduate groups, including Biochemistry, Molecular, and Celluar Developmental Biology, Neuroscience, and Biophysics  Her graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have received several prestigious awards from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Autism Speaks.  Dr. LaSalle’s laboratory has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1999 and is currently funded by NICHD, NINDS, NIEHS, and the Prader-Willi Foundation.

For additional information, contact Dr. LaSalle at or (530) 752-7598.

A. Kimberley McAllister, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Science; Center for Neuroscience; and Department of Neurology, School of Medicine

Dr. McAllister is a basic and translational neuroscientist who started her laboratory at the Center for Neuroscience in 2000. Her research focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of synapse formation in the developing cerebral cortex.  The main approach in her lab is to study the formation of individual synapses between dissociated, cultured neurons in real time.  This is accomplished by simultaneously imaging the recruitment of pre- and postsynaptic proteins fused to GFP to synaptic sites and recording the development of synaptic transmission at single synapses as they form.  The specific signals that guide synapse formation and plasticity are studied by manipulating them locally at forming and/or mature synapses. For this basic research, Dr. McAllister has been awarded a grant from the National Eye Institute in addition to a number of fellowships from private foundations including a Scholar Award from the Pew Foundation and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship.  In addition to the basic research in her lab, Dr. McAllister’s research also focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders, including schizophrenia and autism. For these projects, she has been awarded a Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Award from the March of Dimes, a Scholar Award from the John Merck Fund, a Research Grant from the March of Dimes, a Pilot award from Cure Autism Now, and a research grant from Autism Speaks. Dr. McAllister has a strong commitment to graduate education as she has served as Chair of Admissions for 4 years, and has been a member of the Executive Committee for 4 years. Dr. McAllister holds positions in the Department of Neurology, the Division of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and the Center for Neuroscience. In the eight years that she has been at the University of California, Davis, Dr. McAllister has developed collaborative and interdisciplinary research with colleagues in several departments. On a national and international level, Dr. McAllister serves as a reviewer for many journals, ad-hocs for several NIH study sections, has been a member of the Program Committee for the Society for Neuroscience, and was awarded the 2006 Young Investigator Award from the Society for Neuroscience.

For additional information, contact Dr. McAllister at or (530) 752-8114.

Peter C. Mundy, Ph.D. (PDF) - Lisa Capps Professor of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Education, School of Education and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine; Director of Educational Research, MIND Institute

Peter Mundy, Ph.D., is a developmental and clinical psychologist who has been working on defining the nature of autism and developmental disabilities for the past 30 years. His work began in 1981 at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. At that time little was known about the characteristics of the social deficits of autism. His studies with collaborators Marian Sigman and Connie Kasari contributed to the understanding that impairments in the early development of infants’ ability to coordinate their visual attention with other people (i.e. joint attention) is a fundamental feature of the early onset autism.  This observation was first published in 1986 and it has contributed to significant improvements in the early identification, diagnosis and treatment of children with autism. In the years since he has studied the behavioral and neurocognitive processes involved in a model of joint attention, and their role in learning, social cognition and developmental disorders.  Along with colleagues at the MIND Institute (Sullivan & Mastergeorge) he has been advancing a new neurodevelopmental model of joint attention, social cognition and autism in 2009 (see paper cited below).  One new avenue of application of this model is to attempt to advance research on school readiness among preschool children. He has published over 100 journal articles and chapters on early social development, autism and social cognition. He has received federal funding for his research continuously since 1982 across 16 different projects.

Dr. Mundy is currently working with collaborators at the MIND Institute on a four volume series, to be entitled Autism for Educators, with Wiley/Jossey Bass Publications. The first volume of this series was publisehed in 2011 (see citation below). In 2009 NIMH granted Dr. Mundy funding to develop a collaborative, multidisciplinary Social Atttention Virtual Reality Laboratory (SAV-Lab, for research on social attention, learning and academic development in school-age children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This beginning of this laboratory was a joint venture of the faculties of the UC Davis MIND Institute and the Center for Mind and Brain, as well as researchers at Stanford University and the University of Southern California. In 2012 the Institute for Education Science provided four years of funding to allow the SAV-Lab research group the opportunity to conduct a longitudinal study of the factors that impair or facilitate school based learning in elementary and secondary students with ASD.  Immediately prior to his arrival at UC Davis, Dr. Mundy was a professor of psychology at the University of Miami for 17 years. There he was the founding director of the University of Miami Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, which partners with public schools in South Florida to improve the education and outcomes for over 4000 children and families.

For additional information, contact Dr. Mundy at or 916-703- 0310.

Sally J. Ozonoff, Ph.D. (PDF)  - Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine

Dr. Ozonoff's research at the UC Davis MIND Institute focuses on very young children with autism. She is studying the onset of autism in a prospective investigation that follows high-risk infants from birth through age 3. She is also studying risk factors for autistic regression. Dr. Ozonoff’s clinical interests are in the diagnosis and assessment of people with autism spectrum disorders, with specializations in Asperger syndrome and infant and adult diagnosis. Dr. Ozonoff has written over a hundred peer-reviewed publications and chapters on these topics, as well as three books. Her work has been showcased on the television news show 60 Minutes. Dr. Ozonoff is a Joint Editor of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Autism Research, Autism Spectrum Quarterly, and Guilford Press.

For additional information, contact Dr. Ozonoff at or (916) 703-0259.

Isaac N. Pessah, Ph.D. - Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine; Director, Children’s Center for Environmental Health and Disease Prevention, UC Davis

Dr. Pessah is a toxicologist with research interest in the area of molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating signaling in excitable cells.  His current research focuses on the structure, function, and pharmacology of the ryanodine-sensitive calcium channels (RyRs) found in sarcoplasmic and endoplasmic reticulum of muscle cells and neurons. His laboratory is actively studying how dysfunction of RyR complexes contribute to genetic diseases and how genetic alteration of RyRs and environmental factors interact to influence neurodevelopment by utilizing cellular, biochemical and molecular investigations of calcium-signaling pathways. Dr. Pessah has developed a strong, collaborative and interdisciplinary research program with colleagues across the university, as well as nationally and internationally. He is director of The Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention, and a member of the MIND Institute.

For additional information, contact Dr. Pessah at or (530) 752-6696.

Susan Rivera, Ph.D. (PDF) - Professor, Department of Psychology and Center for Mind and Brain, College of Letters and Science

Dr. Rivera conducts research on the origins and development of symbolic representation in both infants and children. She uses classic behavioral as well as neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques to investigate such things as language acquisition, concept formation, object representation, and numerical cognition. As a member of the UC Davis MIND Institute, she also conducts research contrasting typical development with that of children with neurodevelopmental disorders including autism and fragile X syndrome.  Dr. Rivera's current investigations focus on several aspects of “parietally-mediated” cognitive functioning, including arithmetic reasoning, so-called “dorsal stream functioning”, biological motion perception and multi-sensory integration.  She uses several different techniques in her research including eye-tracking, ERP and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI.) One of her main research goals is to build a framework for integrating the previously disparate methodological and theoretical orientations of cognitive developmental and neuroscience research. By employing a variety of converging research techniques, she strives to elucidate the complex brain-behavior relationships that underlie cognitive development.

For additional information, contact Dr. Rivera at or 530-747-3802.

Sally J. Rogers, Ph.D. (PDF) - (Program Director) Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine

Dr. Rogers specializes in conducting developmental research into autism and other developmental disorders and working with children with developmental disabilities and their families, especially young children with autism. She studies early developmental processes, including imitation, social-communicative behavior, development of motor skills, language, and social interaction patterns. She collaborates with Dr. Ozonoff on studies of autism in infant siblings. She is also involved in developing treatments for autism and examining treatment efficacy in autism using a treatment model that she developed in collaboration with Geraldine Dawson, the Early Start Denver Model.  She is the PI of a number of federal grants, including an NIH funded ACE Network grant involving a multisite randomized clinical trial of early intervention, and a large interdisciplinary postdoctoral training grant that she directs with Dr. Amaral.   Her clinical interests include evaluation of cognitive, behavioral, social, emotional, and adaptive functioning; early intervention for children with autism; developing treatment and educational interventions for persons with autism of all ages, and social skills groups for adults with autism. She has written extensively in her field, authoring numerous articles and books and developing training videos. Dr. Rogers is an associate editor for Autism Research and serves on the editorial board of many publications, including the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, and Infants and Young Children. She also reviews for periodicals such as Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Science, American Journal of Mental Retardation, Journal of Early Intervention, Journal of Child Psychology and Child Psychiatry, and Development and Psychopathology.

For additional information, contact Dr. Rogers at or (916) 703-0264.

Julie Schweitzer, Ph.D. (PDF) - Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine 

Dr. Schweitzer's interests include the identification and treatment of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity (ADHD) and related disorders in children and adults using behavioral, neuropsychological and functional neuroimaging methods. Other interests include the use of reinforcement and learning paradigms in imaging as applied to psychopathology. Dr. Schweitzer's goal is to apply translational research methods using a variety of basic behavioral and physiological techniques to develop novel treatment and preventative approaches to addressing attentional disorders and optimal treatments based on subtypes of ADHD. Additional funded collaborative work includes projects testing the effects of prenatal drug exposure on adolescent brain function and behavior and the effects of schizophrenia on reinforcement and learning impairments via fMRI and behavior. Dr. Schweitzer is the Director of the ADHD Program at the MIND Institute at the UC Davis School of Medicine. In addition, Dr. Schweitzer is committed to the development of junior faculty and postdoctoral scholars in the implementation of translational research. She is the Associate Director of the Mentored Clinical Research Training Program within the UC Davis CTSC and on the steering committee of the Mentoring Academy for the UC Davis Schools of Health Sciences.

For additional information, contact Dr. Schweitzer at or 916-703-0450.

Frank R. Sharp, M.D. (PDF) -  Professor, Department of Neurology, School of Medicine

An internationally renowned clinical neurologist and neuroscientist, Dr. Sharp joined the UC Davis and the MIND Institute faculty in June 2004. Research in his laboratory focuses on molecular neurobiology, genomics, neural cell injury and cell death and the blood genomics of neurological disease. Prior to his appointment at UC Davis, Dr. Sharp had a distinguished clinical and research career at UC San Diego, UC San Francisco and the University of Cincinnati, making groundbreaking contributions to new fields of study and new insights into brain function and disease. Among these contributions were: first laboratory to show proof of principle for using blood genomics to detect pathological events in the animal and human brain, paved the way for performing PET and fMRI studies in humans, and first to demonstrate that a transcription factor can be used to map active neurons. Dr. Sharp is currently on the editorial boards of Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, Medical Genomics, Brain Research and Journal of Neurochemistry. He has been a member of AHA grant review committees, and is currently a permanent member of the BINP grant review committee at the National Institutes of Health.

For additional information, contact Dr. Sharp at or (916) 703-0368.

Tony Simon, Ph.D. (PDF) -  Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine

Dr. Simon is a pediatric cognitive neuroscientist. His research focuses on the neural basis of cognitive impairments seen in genetic disorders that produce mental retardation, developmental disability and psychopathology. Dr. Simon investigates how dysfunction in specific neurocognitive processing systems, such as attention, and spatial or temporal processing can generate a range of cognitive, behavioral and psychiatric impairments. His goal is to develop remedial intervention programs that will minimize such disability.  Dr. Simon's current projects include studies of spatiotemporal and numerical cognition in children with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, also known as DiGeorge and VeloCardioFacial syndrome, as well as research on how the interaction of cognitive impairment, functional demands and stress and anxiety modulate psychiatric outcomes in that disorder. He is also engaged in similar studies of boys and girls with Klinfelter (XXY) or Trisomy X (XXX) syndromes. Dr. Simon leads a research project with Dr. Susan Rivera on the neurocognitive basis of functional impairments in children and adults with the full range of fragile X gene mutations. Besides experimental cognitive processing analyses, Dr. Simon uses cutting edge neuroimaging methods, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Voxel Based Morphometrics, and Diffusion Tensor Fiber tracking in order to study the structure, function and connective patterns in the developing brain.

For additional information, contact Dr. Simon at or (916) 703-0407.

Marjorie Solomon, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine

Dr. Solomon is a licensed psychologist whose primary clinical work is focused on high functioning children with autism spectrum disorders. Her principal research program investigates higher cognition in individuals with autism spectrum disorders, and the relationship between cognitive control, cerebellar and basal ganglia pathology, and behavioral symptoms including restricted and repetitive behaviors and formal thought disorder. A Career Development Award from NIMH has enabled her to study cognitive neuroscience methods including fMRI to better investigate the neural mechanisms underlying control deficits and their relationship to symptoms. As part of the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health program of the NIH, Dr. Solomon has begun to explore gender differences in autism symptom expression, personality, psychopathology and cognitive control and their relationship to oxytocin and vasopressin. She is also funded on a grant from Autism Speaks to examine non-social aspects of reward processing in adults with ASDs using behavioral measures and functional neuroimaging. In addition to these research programs, Dr. Solomon works clinically doing social skills training with high functioning children on the autism spectrum, and has authored several intervention studies. Dr. Solomon has been involved with training group facilitators for eight years.

For additional information, contact Dr. Solomon at or 916-703-0270.

Judy A. Van de Water, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine

Dr. Van de Water is an immunologist with expertise in immunopathology and autoimmune diseases, who has had continuous NIH funding of her research program for 16 years. Dr. Van de Water is a Professor in Residence in the School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, and an advisor for the Graduate Group in Immunology. She has been the co-recipient of a MERIT award from the NIAID for her work in the pathogenesis of primary biliary cirrhosis with Dr. M. Eric Gershwin. Dr. Van de Water has trained 13 predoctoral and postdoctoral students in her laboratory, many of whom hold faculty positions in US institutions, such as Scripps Research Institute and Rochester Institute of Technology, as well as foreign institutions, such as the Kings College in London, England. She is currently the principal investigator for the Cellular and Molecular Core of the Center for Children's Environmental Health that conducts detailed analysis of the immune system, as well as evaluations of the interaction between the immune system and neuronal cells. Other research studies include: an NIMH-funded project on maternal biomarkers of autism, a project to evaluate the molecular mechanisms of adverse reactions to foods in children with autism, and studies of the pathogenesis and etiology of primary biliary cirrhosis, an autoimmune liver disease.  One of her current students is the recipient of the Autism Speaks pre-doctoral mentor award for his work in autism.

For additional information, contact Dr. Van de Water at or (530) 752-2154.