David Amaral at the Open House

Leonard Abbeduto, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine

E-mail:  ljabbeduto@ucdavis.edu  

Leonard Abbeduto was the previous Director of the MIND Institute. His research is focused broadly on the development of language across the lifespan in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and on the family context for language development. He has published more than 220 articles, chapters, reviews, and books on fragile X syndrome, autism, Down syndrome, and child development. His program of research has been funded nearly continuously by NIH since 1985. His current research is focused on understanding variation in language outcomes in various conditions associated with intellectual disability, the measurement of treatment effects in clinical trials, and the use of distance technology to deliver behavioral treatment. He serves as Principal Investigator and Director of the NICHD-funded MIND Institute Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), which provides core support to more than 80 projects and 40 scientists at the UC Davis MIND Institute. He also co-directs the UC Davis Redwood SEED Scholars program, which is a 4-year, residential, inclusive college program for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Dr. Abbeduto has received numerous awards, including the Emil H. Steiger Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Faculty Stewardship Award from the University of California, Davis, the Enid and William Rosen Research Award from the National Fragile X Foundation, and the Edgard Doll Award for Distinguished Research Contribution from Division 33 of the American Psychological Association.


B.A., Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1975
M.A., Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1979
Ph.D., Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1982

Abbeduto's publications and academic activities

Veronica Ahumada, Ph.D.

Assistant Adjunct Professor, Pediatrics
University of California, Davis

E-mail:  vahumada@ucdavis.edu  

Veronica Ahumada is the director of the Technology and Social Connectedness lab at UC Davis. She is an assistant professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, with a cross appointment at UC Davis' MIND Institute. Ahumada’s work is focused on the use of interactive technologies (e.g., telehealth, telerobots) for improved health, behavioral, and developmental outcomes.

Ahumada is the principal investigator of a $1 million dollar National Science Foundation, National Robotics Initiative grant, Robot-Mediated Learning: Exploring School-Deployed Collaborative Robots for Homebound Children, to create better telerobots for children who are restricted to their homes due to medical conditions or disabilities. Ahumada is also co-PI on a $1.2 million University of California, Multicampus Research Projects and Initiatives project, Robot-facilitated Health Equity in Post-Pandemic California and Beyond, to create telemanipulation robots for healthcare worker safety and social inclusion of individuals who are at high risk of infection.


M.Ed., University of Georgia, Athens, 2004
Ph.D., Human Development in Context, University of California, Irvine, 2018
NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship, Biomedical & Health Informatics, University of California, Irvine, 2021

R. Scott Akins, D.O.

Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics,
Section Chief, Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics UC Davis,
Department of Pediatrics
Medical Director, UC Davis MIND Institute

UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817

Phone:  916-703-0248
E-mail:  rsakins@ucdavis.edu  

Lead for the Child Development Division’s developmental pediatricians, child psychologists and developmental pediatrics fellows. Serves as MIND Institute Director of Clinical services and support development and oversight of CEDD clinical and medical programs; medical education and health disparities. His research has focused on telehealth supports to families of children with autism in remote communities, partnerships between pediatric specialty providers, schools and medical home providers and utilization of complementary and alternative medicine in families of children with autism.


B.A., Liberal Arts, Northern Arizona University, 1994
D.O., Midwestern University, 1998

David Amaral, Ph.D.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
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817

Phone:  916-703-0225
E-mail:  dgamaral@ucdavis.edu

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.

He 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 core scientist at the California National Primate Research Center. Dr. Amaral was the Beneto Foundation Chair and Research Director of the MIND (Medical Investigations of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute from 1998 to 2018.

His 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 launched 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 is leading 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 reliable animal models of autism.

He 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 from the Macarthur and McDonnell Foundations. He 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 which will be released as a second version in 2023. He has 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 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. Dr. Amaral is the Director of the UC Davis Autism Center of Excellence. In 2015, he became Editor-in-Chief of Autism Research, the journal of INSAR. In 2019, Amaral was elected to the prestigious US National Academy of Medicine.


B.A., Psychology, Northwestern University, 1972
Ph.D., Neurobiology and Psychology, University of Rochester, 1977

Amaral's publications and academic activities

Kathleen Angkustsiri, M.D.Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Section of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, School of Medicine
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0278
E-mail:  kangkustsiri@ucdavis.edu

Kathleen Angkustsiri is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician with interests in neurodevelopmental disabilities including autism, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS), down syndrome, and fragile X syndrome (FXS). She completed her B.A. in Psychology and Human Biology at Stanford University and received her M.D. from New York University School of Medicine. She trained in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, and completed her fellowship in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at the University of California, Davis in 2009. She is involved in research on immune dysfunction and GI conditions in autism, behavioral characteristics of children with 22q11.2DS, and clinical trials in Autism, FXS, and down syndrome.


B.A., Psychology, Stanford University, 1998
M.D., Medicine, New York University, 2003
Residency, Children’s Hospital and Research Center at Oakland, 2006
Fellowship, University of California Davis Medical Center, 2009

Angkustsiri's publications and academic activities

Paul Ashwood, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817



Phone:  916-703-0405
E-mail:  pashwood@ucdavis.edu

Paul Ashwood’s research program is directed at characterizing the role the immune system may play in some subjects with autism. There is a highly complex and interconnected interface between the immune and central nervous systems. The nervous and immune systems share some similarities. They are both highly networked systems that communicate by the release of chemical mediators with many of these mediators exerting effects on both systems. Products of the immune system can have actions that affect mood, sleep, behavior and neurodevelopment. Furthermore, cells of the immune system express receptors that can respond to neuropeptides, neuromodulators and products released from the nervous system. In addition, recent studies of genetic linkages in autism have demonstrated that many possible gene abnormalities observed in autism could have important implications for the immune response. Dr. Ashwood is interested in exploring whether the health of one system is integral to the healthy development of the other. His efforts aim to fully characterize the immune response in children with autism, in particular the cellular immune response. Dr. Ashwood’s was one the first to characterize gastrointestinal symptoms and pathology that affects many children with autism. Dr Ashwood currently has ongoing projects focusing on the GI dysfunction, mucosal immune responses, microbiota, maternal allergies/asthma, and the innate and adaptive immune system in the context of autism.


B.Sc., Pharmacology, University College London, 1992
M.Sc., Toxicology and Pathology, Imperial College London, 1994
Ph.D., Immunology, Kings College London, 2001

Dr. Ashwood's publications and academic activities

Melissa Bauman, Ph.D.Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Director, Women in Medicine and Health Sciences (WIMHS) University of California, Davis
UC  Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0377
E-mail:  mdbauman@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Bauman is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the MIND Institute. Her research program uses preclinical models to evaluate risk factors and develop novel therapeutic interventions for neurodevelopmental disorders. Her current research focuses on understanding how changes in the prenatal environment, in particular the maternal-fetal immune environment, may increase the risk for autism, schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental disorders. ​Dr. Bauman's laboratory utilizes a collaborative, team-science approach to research as demonstrated through her roles of Associate Director of the MIND Institute IDDRC (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center) and the UC Davis Conte Center. In addition to her research interests, Dr. Bauman also has a strong commitment to advancing women's careers in science and medicine and she serves as the director of the UC Davis Health Women in Medicine and Health Sciences (WIMHS) program.


B.A., Psychology, Colorado College, 1998
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of California, Davis, 2003

Dr. Bauman's publications and academic activities

Current Studies

UC Davis Conte Center

Women in Medicine and Health Sciences

UC Davis Women in Medicine and Health Sciences
UC Davis Women in Medicine and Health Sciences on Facebook
UC Davis Women in Medicine and Health Sciences on Twitter

Robert F. Berman, Ph.D.Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, School of Medicine
E-mail:  rfberman@ucdavis.edu

Robert 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. He 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).  His 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.  His 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.


B.A., Microbiology, University of Utah, 1970
M.S., Physiological Psychology, University of Utah, 1974
Ph.D., Physiological Psychology, University of Utah, 1976
Postdoctoral Training, Neuroscience, Univ. North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC 1977-1979

Sanchita Bhatnagar, Ph.D.Associate Professor, Medical Microbiology and Immunology
3134 Tupper Hall
1275 Heath Sciences Drive
University of California, Davis, School of Medicine
Davis, CA 95616

E-mail:  sbbhatnagar@ucdavis.edu

Our research program’s mission is to advance the understanding of the epigenetic regulation of mammalian gene expression. We believe that epigenetic mechanisms provide an avenue for more effective intervention and treatment strategies. We are driven to develop cutting-edge tools, reagents, and therapeutics for key areas of medical research, with an emphasis on childhood neurodevelopmental disabilities and breast cancer.


Ph.D., Infectious Diseases, University of Notre Dame, 2008

Bhatnagar Lab Website

Celia Chang, M.D.Associate Professor, Department of Neurology
UC Davis Health
ACC Building
4860 Y Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95817


E-mail:  chwchang@ucdavis.edu 

Celia H. Chang offers comprehensive diagnostic and consultative services for children suffering from diseases and congenital disorders of the nervous and neuromuscular systems, including epilepsy, movement disorders, muscular dystrophies and muscle weakness.


UC Davis School of Medicine
Davis, California
M.D. 1993

UC Berkeley
Berkeley, California
B.A./B.S. 1989

Jacqueline N. Crawley, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine
E-mail:  crawley@ucdavis.edu   

Jacqueline N. Crawley, Ph.D. received her undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and graduated with a degree in biology.  Her dissertation research was completed in the departments of zoology and psychology at the University of Maryland in College Park. Postdoctoral research in neuropsychopharmacology was conducted at Yale University School of Medicine.  In 1979 she joined the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland to establish a behavioral neuroscience laboratory.  Her research program investigated animal models of neuropsychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s.  She has published over 260 peer reviewed papers, 104 chapters and reviews, 5 books, and was editor of the journal Neuropeptides.  Dr. Crawley’s sole-authored book, What’s Wrong With My Mouse? Behavioral Phenotyping of Transgenic and Knockout Mice, is in broad use by neuroscientists and the biomedical research community.

Beginning in 2000, Dr. Crawley’s interest in the genetics of autism led to a new focus on mutant mouse models of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  The Crawley lab conducts behavioral phenotyping of mice with mutations in genes associated with autism, to understand the consequences of each genetic abnormality across developmental stages.  Her team innovated mouse behavioral assays with relevance to diagnostic symptoms including social approach, reciprocal social interactions, olfactory communication and ultrasonic vocalizations, motor stereotypies and repetitive behaviors, which have been widely adapted by many laboratories worldwide for investigations of animal models of neurodevelopmental disorders.  Comprehensive behavioral phenotyping studies conducted by her group include mice with mutations in the autism risk genes engrailed2, fmr1, neuroligin1, neuroligin3, neuroligin4, shank1, shank3, as well as oxytocin, vasopressin 1b, 16p11.2 deletions, and inbred strains. 

She joined the University of California Davis in 2012 as a MIND Institute faculty member and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.  To discover effective therapeutics for the core symptoms of autism, the Crawley team is currently pursuing preclinical translational studies in mouse models with the most robust autism-relevant phenotypes, to identify pharmacological interventions that reverse and prevent autism-relevant behaviors.


B.A., Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 1967-71
Ph.D., Zoology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 1971-76
Postdoctoral, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, 1976-79

Crawley's publications and academic activities

Megan Dennis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine
School of Medicine
451 Health Sciences Drive
Davis, CA 95616
Phone:  530-752-1357
Email:  mydennis@ucdavis.edu
Twitter: @meganamsu

Dr. Dennis’s research at the UC Davis Genome Center and MIND Institute uses genome sequencing to pinpoint genes contributing to innovative human phenotypes and their role in disease, primate evolution, population diversity, and gene regulation. Of particular interest are genes duplicated since the human-chimpanzee divergence, which are largely understudied as they are difficult to assess using standard genetic methods. This includes developing novel sequencing methods to capture complex genomic variation.

Going beyond genetic studies, her group also employs experimental methods using human cell lines and zebrafish to quickly and robustly assay function of genes related to neurological disease on cellular phenotypes and neurological development. Her group focuses on improving diagnostics and elucidating the underlying mechanisms of neurological disorders including autism, intellectual disability, and epilepsy.


B.S., Biochemical Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 2004
Ph.D., Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, 2009

Faye Dixon, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Professor,
UC Davis Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0265
E-mail:  fdixon@ucdavis.edu   

Faye Dixon is licensed clinical psychologist and Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Currently, she is the co-director of the AIR (Attention, Impulsivity & Regulation) Lab and additionally provides clinical management and community outreach. She is responsible the clinical and diagnostic fidelity of the AIR Lab research. She has a long history of work in child psychopathology, specifically the areas of depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD and learning differences in children. She also has spent many years educating and training psychology graduate students, interns, and post-doctoral fellows as well as medical students, residents and child psychiatry fellows.


B.A., College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio, 1976
M.A., American University, Washington, DC, 1987
Ph.D., American University, Washington, DC, 1989

Dr. Dixon's publications and academic activities

Janice Enriquez, Ph.D.

Associate Clinical Professor, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics,
LEND Associate Training Director, MCHC RISE-UP Co-Director,
UCEDD Associate Director of Community Engagement and Training
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0457
E-mail:  jenriquez@ucdavis.edu

Janice Enriquez is a clinical child psychologist who provides clinical assessment and behavioral intervention for children with/at risk for neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her clinical specialties include: development and mental health of children, particularly those with complex medical conditions and trauma, parent-child relationships, and evidence based assessments and interventions. She is committed to the diversity and clinical training efforts within the MIND and currently serves as the LEND Associate Director, the MCHC RISE-UP Co-Director, and the UCEDD Associate Director of Community Engagement and Training. She also serves as the Chair for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at the MIND Institute. She is committed to serving all children and their families in an effort to achieve health equity and supports clinical training for the next generation of providers.


B.S., Biochemistry and Psychology, UC Davis, 1998
Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Loma Linda University, 2005

Kyle Fink, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Neurology Department & Stem Cell Program
Institute for Regenerative Cures
2921 Stockton Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95817
Phone:  916-703-9368
E-mail:  kdfink@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Fink received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Central Michigan University and the University of Nantes. He has focused on therapeutic development for neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. His research team focuses on genetically-linked neurological disorders such as CDKL5 deficiency, Rett Syndrome, Jordan’s Syndrome, Angelman’s Syndrome, and both juvenile and adult forms of Huntington’s disease. His lab is identifying actionable domains linked to the causative disease mutation for which we create therapeutic DNA-binding domains fused to gene regulatory or epigenetic editing domains. The lab focuses on human mutations by utilizing patient-derived samples that can be used to create in vitro neuronal disease-in-a-dish models in addition to working with transgenic rodent models of disease. His team builds on the existing strengths and expertise at UC Davis and utilizes the necessary resources to develop a therapeutic pipeline in which precision medicine can be used to identify novel disease causing genetic variants to advance Precision Neurotherapeutics to clinical applications.

His current research focuses on two major goals 1) The therapeutic application of zinc fingers, transcription activator-like effector (TALE) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindrome repeats (CRISPR) to modify gene expression in genetically-linked pediatric neurological diseases; and 2) the development of delivery systems that can safely and efficaciously target the central nervous system with our novel gene editing platforms. These goals specifically address: A) how to deliver these potent therapeutics to maximize the biodistribution in the central nervous system; B) how to increase the specificity of each construct to limiting off-target effects; and C) how to minimize the immune response to increase safety and the therapeutic potential of this approach. These platforms can turn on or enhance transcription of a gene, transcriptionally silence expression, or cause epigenetic changes essentially allowing for custom modifications to be made at the genomic level. The goal of the lab is sufficiently characterize and validate these approaches leading to novel Investigational New Drug applications and eventually clinical trials.


Ph.D., Neuroscience, Central Michigan University, 2013

Melanie Gareau, Ph.D.Associate Professor and Researcher, Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology
Vet Med: Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology
1089 Veterinary Medicine Drive
Davis, CA 95616


Phone:  530-754-0605
E-mail:  mgareau@ucdavis.edu     


B.S., Biochemistry, Pharmacology, McGill University, 2001
Ph.D., Physiology, McMaster University, 2006

Dr. Gareau's publications and academic activities

Cecilia Giulivi, Ph.D.Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine; Member of the MIND Institute; member of the UC Davis Cancer Center 
3009 VM3B
Davis, CA 95616



Phone:  530-752-1038
E-mail:  cgiulivi@ucdavis.edu 

Dr. Giulivi joined the University of California, Davis in 2004 as an Associate Professor and since 2007 as a Professor. She has been a member of the MIND Institute since 2011. Dr. Giulivi has a strong background and experience in the area of mitochondria bioenergetics and free radical biochemistry. This is reflected in more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals in the chemistry-biochemistry field of mitochondria and free radicals. She worked on mitochondrial biochemistry since her undergraduate years, and more recently, her focus has been at understanding the underlying mechanisms that result in dysfunction of mitochondria in several pathophysiological situations such as autism, essential amino acid deficiency, type-2 diabetes, fragile X, and Huntington’s disease.

After receiving her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of Buenos Aires in 1989, Dr. Giulivi went on to do a post doc at the University of Southern California. After completing research there in the department of Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology she was promoted to the position of Assistant Professor. She then moved to the University of Minnesota in 1998 to serve as an Associate Professor in their Department of Chemistry, before moving here to UC Davis in 2004. 

Dr. Giulivi has been a Member of Executive Board for Mitochondria in Physiology and a Member of the Editorial Board for the Journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine since 2004. In 2011 she was appointed as a Reviewer in the Medical Research Council, as well as ad-hoc reviewer for several NIH study sections including MIST, NGDB, and others. Previously she has served on the council for the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine Research. She received Autism Science’s Top 10 Achievement Award for 2010, for groundbreaking work on identifying mitochondrial dysfunction in children with autism. 


Biochemistry (professional degree), University of Buenos Aires, 1985; Summa Cum Laude.
Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Buenos Aires, 1989

Dr. Giulivi's publications and academic activities (PDF)

Paul J. Hagerman, M.D., Ph.D.Distinguished Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Investigator, MIND Institute, UC Davis School of Medicine 
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue, 4455 Tupper Hall
Davis, CA 95616


Phone:  530-754-7266
E-mail:  pjhagerman@ucdavis.edu

Paul J. Hagerman, M.D., Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine and a MIND Institute investigator at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine. He obtained both his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University School of Medicine. Following a three-year Leukemia Society Fellowship at UC San Diego, Dr. Hagerman joined the faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he remained for twenty years prior to joining the UC Davis faculty in 2001. Dr. Hagerman is a molecular geneticist with a principal interest in understanding the basis for neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, the Hagerman lab has made a number of important observations related to the mechanism of gene expression of the fragile X (FMR1) gene; mutations of this gene are responsible for fragile X syndrome (FXS), the leading heritable form of mental impairment and leading known cause of autism; fragile X-associated primary ovarian insufficiency (FXPOI), the leading heritable form of early menopause; fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS), one of the leading single-gene forms of neurodegeneration.

In 2001, Dr. Hagerman and his wife, Dr. Randi Hagerman (Medical Director of the MIND Institute), reported their discovery of a neurological disorder involving tremor and gait ataxia, which they later named FXTAS. They also discovered that FXTAS represents a new class of inclusion disorder, with numerous intranuclear inclusions found throughout the brains of affected individuals. Since FXTAS has features of both Parkinsonism and dementia, the disorder represents a model system for understanding the pathogenesis of those more common, sporadic disorders. Remarkably, FXTAS is caused by smaller CGG-repeat expansions of the same gene (FMR1) that gives rise to fragile X syndrome, albeit by an entirely separate mechanism: excess “toxic” FMR1 mRNA for FXTAS, gene silencing, and absence of FMR1 protein in fragile X syndrome. Most recently, Dr. Hagerman has begun to explore the means to target the pathogenic mechanisms of FXTAS and FXS, investigating the potential of gene-engineering strategies to both turn off toxic RNA production (FXTAS) and to increase the production of FMR1 protein (FXS).

Dr. Hagerman has received support from both the NIH and from DoD, as well as from various private funding agencies. He is most grateful for the support he receives from families for his work on fragile X disorders.


B.A., Chemistry, University of Oregon, 1971
M.D., Ph.D., Biochemistry and Medicine, Stanford University, 1977

Dr. Hagerman's publications and academic activities

Randi J. Hagerman, M.D.Distinguished Professor, Endowed Chair in Fragile X Research, Department of Pediatrics, UC Davis School of Medicine 
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street, Room 2221
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0247
E-mail:  rjhagerman@ucdavis.edu  

Randi Hagerman, M.D., FAAP, is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, a Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics 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. 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, then led Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the University of Colorado for 20 years. She co- founded the National Fragile X Foundation in 1984. In 2000, Hagerman joined the MIND Institute. There, she and her team discovered the Fragile X-associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS). Hagerman’s research involves genotype-phenotype correlations in fragile X and she collaborates on this research with her husband, Paul Hagerman. Hagerman has written over 400 peer-reviewed articles and numerous book chapters on neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as edited several books on fragile X including a 2020 book edited by Hagerman and Hagerman titled Fragile X Syndrome and Premutation Disorders published by MacKeith press, London. Hagerman has received numerous awards for her research including the Jerrett Cole Award from the National Fragile X Foundation for unselfish dedication in working 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 and 2014 Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award from 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 that 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 Hagerman with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2014 she received the C Anderson Aldrich Award for Outstanding Career Achievement from the AAP; in 2014 the International Sisley-Jerome Lejeune Award in France and in 2017 the Emil M. Mrak International Award from the Cal Aggie Alumni Association. Hagerman has worked internationally to establish fragile X clinical programs and research programs throughout the world. She is currently carrying out multiple targeted treatment trials in FXS including a CBD trial, a metformin international trial, and an AFQ056 NeuroNext study in addition to an Anavex 2-73 trial in Rett syndrome.


B.S., Zoology, University of California, Davis, 1971
M.D., Medicine, Stanford University, 1975 

Hagerman's publications and academic activities

Robin L. Hansen, M.D.Professor of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine; Founder, Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (CEDD)
E-mail:  rlhansen@ucdavis.edu    

Dr. Hansen is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician/researcher with vast experience in diagnosing and treating children with neurodevelopmental problems such as pervasive developmental disorder, autism, learning disorders, and attention deficits. She heads a multidisciplinary clinic that diagnosis children, plans/initiates intervention strategies, and works closely with patient families. Her clinical research has focused on children’s temperament and its effects on parenting, long-term effects of prenatal drug exposure, and etiologic diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorders such as autism, including clinical characteristics, biologic markers and gene-environment interactions. Dr. Hansen has developed services for families affected by parental substance abuse, infant mental health, and children in foster care in Sacramento County. She has been an advocate for children at high risk for developmental/behavioral disorders, through her research and her community service at the local, state and national level.


B.A., Human Biology, Stanford University, 1973
M.D., Medicine, University of California, Davis, 1977

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Ph.D., M.P.H.Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine. Director, NIH-funded UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Core Center. Director, Program on Environmental Epidemiology of Autism and Neurodevelopment, the CHARGE (CHildhood Autism Risk from Genes and the Environment), and MARBLES (Markers of Autism Risk in Babies — Learning Early Signs) Studies


UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817

Phone:  530-752-3025
E-mail:  iher@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Hertz-Picciotto, Professor at the University of California Davis MIND Institute and Director of the NIH-funded UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center, is an environmental epidemiologist with over 300 scientific publications addressing environmental exposures, including metals, pesticides, air contaminants and endocrine disrupting compounds; their interactions with nutrition, genes or social factors; and their effects on pregnancy, the newborn, and child development. She designed and directs CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risk from Genes and Environment), the first large, comprehensive population-based study of environmental factors in autism, and MARBLES (Markers of Autism Risk in Babies – Learning Early Signs) to search for early markers that will predict autism, starting in pregnancy. Hertz-Picciotto has also led several cohort studies of toxic chemicals and both pregnancy outcomes and early child development in Mexico, Chile, and eastern Europe. She has served on scientific advisory panels for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the NIH National Toxicology Program, and the California Governor’s Proposition 65 committee. She was elected President of two major professional epidemiology societies, and chaired four National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine Panels on: Agent Orange and Vietnam Veterans, and Breast Cancer and the Environment. Dr. Hertz-Picciotto has taught epidemiologic methods on four continents and mentored over 75 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. In 2011, she received the Goldsmith Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology. Recently she co-founded (with the Learning Disabilities Association) Project TENDR (Targeting Environment and Neuro-Developmental Risks), a collaborative effort of scientists, clinicians, policy-makers and advocates that aims to decrease the incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders by reducing neurotoxicant exposures that contribute to them.


B.A., Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley, 1970
M.P.H., Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley, 1984
M.A., Biostatistics, University of California, Berkeley, 1985
Ph.D., Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley, 1989

Dr. Hertz-Picciotto's publications and academic activities

David Hessl, Ph.D.Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0249
Email:  drhessl@ucdavis.edu

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. Dr. Hessl directs the Translational Psychophysiology and Assessment Laboratory (T-PAL) at the MIND Institute to investigate the emotional psychophysiology of children with neurodevelopmental disorders, and to develop novel outcome measures for clinical trials.  His work currently concentrates on autism, fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome, and fragile X premutation carriers, who are at risk for neurodegenerative disease. 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.


B.A., Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1989
M.S., Child Clinical Psychology, University of Washington, 1995
Ph.D., Child Clinical Psychology, University of Washington, 1997

Dr. Hessl's publications and academic activities

Fereydoun Hormozdiari, Ph.D.Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine
Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility
451 Health Science Drive
Davis, CA 95616


Phone:  530-754-9725
Email:  fhormozd@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Hormozdiari’s research at the UC Davis Genome Center and MIND institute is centered on developing and utilizing combinatorial and machine learning methods to study various aspects of human and primate genomes. Mainly his research group is focused on developing methods to predict and study genetic causes of (neuro)developmental disorders. His particular interest is in discovery of genes and genetic variations contributing to these disorders in the context of functional pathways and modules.

His current projects are discovery and studying genetic structural variation in developmental disorders, developing models to predict contribution of rare variants on autism and building methods for early prediction of these disorders using genetic variants. The ultimate goal of his lab is not only to be able to accurately predict these disorders based on the observed genetic variants, but also learn the biological mechanism behind them.


B.Sc., Computer Engineering, Sharif University, 2004
M.Sc., Computer Science, Simon Fraser University, 2007
Ph.D., Computer Science, Simon Fraser University, 2011

Dr. Hormozdiari's publications and academic activities

Lee-Way Jin, M.D., Ph.D.Associate Professor, Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, School of Medicine
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0392
Email:  lwjin@ucdavis.edu  

Dr. Jin is a neuropathologist and neuroscientist with expertise in the molecular analysis of brain diseases and in brain banking. He is currently the principal investigator of the NIA-funded Neuropathology Core of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at UC Davis. He is also the UC Davis principal investigator of the “University of California Pediatric Neuropathology Consortium,” with the mission to collect and study cells and brain tissues from patients with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, fragile X syndrome, and Rett syndrome. Dr. Jin also conducts basic science research in his laboratory. His scientific goals include identifying potential cellular and molecular therapeutic targets in Rett syndrome, a genetic form of autism spectrum disorder, and (2) designing and testing small molecule compounds specific for these targets that may have a potential for future Rett syndrome and autism therapy. His current research focus is on glial cell abnormalities in Rett syndrome as well as neuropathology of fragile X syndrome.


M.D., Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, 1985
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego, 1993

Janine M. LaSalle, Ph.D.Professor, Medical Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis Genome Center, UC Davis MIND Institute
Medical Microbiology and Immunology
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616


Phone:  530-754-7598
Email:  jmlasalle@ucdavis.edu  

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 Cellular 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.


B.S., Biology, Randolph-Macon College, 1988
Ph.D., Immunology, Harvard University, 1993

Dr. LaSalle's publications and academic activities

Pamela J. Lein, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine
1089 Veterinary Medicine Drive (VM3B)
Davis, CA   

Phone:  530-752-1970
Email:  pjlein@ucdavis.edu


Pamela Lein is a developmental neurobiologist with research interests in the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which environmental stressors modulate neurodevelopment. Her current research focuses on: (1) interactions autism-linked genes of susceptibility and environmental contaminants that alter normal patterns of neuronal connectivity in the developing brain; (2) novel biomarkers and medical countermeasures for chemical-induced seizures; and (3) the influence of neuroimmune interactions on neuronal morphogenesis and synapse formation.  The ultimate goal this research is to identify environmental stressors that can be readily controlled to decrease the incidence and/or severity of neurodevelopmental disorders.  Dr. Lein has a well-funded, collaborative and interdisciplinary research program with colleagues across the university, as well as nationally and internationally.  She is the Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier journal, NeuroToxicology, and she serves as the Major Advisor for the Graduate Group in Pharmacology and Toxicology at UC Davis.


B.S., Biological Sciences, Cornell University, 1981
M.S., Environmental Health, East Tennessee State University, 1983
Ph.D., Pharmacology and Toxicology, State University of New York, Buffalo

Dr. Lein's publications and academic activities (PDF)

Lauren Lindstrom

Professor and Dean, UC Davis School of Education
UC Davis School of Education
One Shields Avenue
Davis, California 95616



Phone:  530-752-4663
E-mail:  lelindstrom@ucdavis.edu

Lauren Lindstrom is a Professor and Dean of the School of Education at University of California, Davis. She has focused her career on developing innovative career development programs and improving post school outcomes for young adults with disabilities. Her research examines the interplay of individual factors such as gender, socioeconomic status, disability and family expectations, with system level factors such as school services, educational policies, and barriers in the workplace. Over the last 25 years, she has developed school and community based programs and disseminated findings through publications, products, national and international conference presentations. She is currently the Principal Investigator for an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) study developing and testing a curriculum designed to improve college and career readiness for underserved youth, a faculty affiliate with the UC Davis MIND Institute, and a member of the Graduate Group in Education at UC Davis.

In 2020, she received the “Distinguished Researcher Award” from the American Educational Research Association, Special and Inclusive Education Special Interest group. This award recognizes an individual who has made significant and sustained contributions to research, policy, and/or practice in the field of special education.


B.S., University of Oregon, Human Services, 1985
M.S., University of Oregon, Special Education, 1991
Ph.D., University of Oregon, Educational Leadership, 2000

Dr. Lindstrom's publications and academic activities

Verónica Martínez Cerdeño, Ph.D.

Professor, Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine, 
Shriners Hospital of Northern California
2425 Stockton Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95817   



Phone:  916-453-2163
Email:  vmartinezcerdeno@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Martínez Cerdeño received a B.S. in 1998, from Complutense University, Spain. In 2002, received her Ph.D. from the Autónoma University of Madrid, Spain. After completing doctorate in Neuroscience, Dr. Martínez Cerdeño completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University in New York, at UCSF in San Francisco, and at the UC Davis MIND Institute.

Currently, Dr. Martínez Cerdeño is a CAMPOS Scholar and serves as a Professor at the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UC Davis Health. She also is a Faculty member of the Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine at the Shriners Hospital of Northern California, and at the UC Davis MIND Institute.

The goal of Dr. Martínez-Cerdeño's laboratory is to determine the etiology and the pathology of autism, Fragile X syndrome (FXS), and FX tremor-ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS). Dr. Martínez-Cerdeño studies anatomy and pathology in postmortem brains and based on her finding develops animal models for autism research to generate and test novel treatments. In addition, she studies the role of stem cells in the development and evolution of the mammalian cerebral cortex.

Dr. Martínez-Cerdeño’s outreach activities are focused on achieving a positive and diverse climate within the university and society. She participates in multiple activities to increase diversity among Faculty, Staff, and Students at the University. She is the founder and CEO of the non-profit “The Ventricular Foundation” that focuses on science outreach in the greater Sacramento area.

Meghan Miller, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA  


Phone:  916-703-0217
Email:  mrhmiller@ucdavis.edu

Meghan Miller, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and the Chief of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Her research uses a developmental psychopathology framework to understand the emergence of neurodevelopmental disabilities, with a particular focus on autism and ADHD. The long-range goal is that this work will help identify factors that account for the transition from risk to disability, and will be highly translational, delineating core shared processes to be targeted by transdiagnostic prevention and early intervention efforts. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist.


B.A., San Diego State University, 2006
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2013

Peter C. Mundy, Ph.D.

Professor, School of Education and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Email:  pcmundy@ucdavis.edu  

Dr. Mundy is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at UC Davis. He served as President of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR 2019-2021) and currently serves as Past-President on the Board of INSAR.

For the last 4 decades, he has studied the role that joint attention impairments play in the nature, diagnosis and treatment of autism. His research has been supported by numerous extramural grants including twelve federal NIH, CD, IES and HRSA grants. His philosophy of care has focused on advancing research that on the diagnostic and intervention applications of research on the behavioral and neurodevelopmental role of impairments in joint attention its contribution to the social-communication and social-cognitive phenotype of preschool children with autism. That work has had a significant impact on the development of diagnostic assessments such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale 2, which includes several joint attention items and nomenclature modeled from Dr. Mundy’s Early Social Communication Scales. His work has also been fundamental to the development of early intervention methods such as JASPER (Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement, and Regulation) developed by Dr. Connie Kasari and colleagues at UCLA. Furthermore, Dr. Mundy reported the first observations of the neural networks involved in the development of joint attention, which has informed research on developmental neuroscience for both autism and typical development. The last two decades of research on this topic has been summarized in his 2016 book, Autism and Joint Attention: Development, Neuroscience and Clinical Fundamental and a recent paper, “A review of joint attention and social-cognitive brain systems in typical development and autism spectrum disorder”, European Journal of Neuroscience, 2018, which is the first comprehensive analysis of the cognitive-neuroscience of joint attention in research and theory on autism. Most recently, his clinical interests have begun to focus on understanding the development and treatment of autism in school-aged children. This work is born of the understanding that the development of effective preschool intervention is among the most important advances in the sciences of autism in the past 30 years. However, the full potential of that advance will only be realized if we can match our preschool efforts with a comparable science directed toward identifying and understanding the pivotal targets for interventions during the school-aged period of neurodevelopment autism. These efforts have involved the use of virtual reality to develop new methods for research with older children and a longitudinal study of the academic development, cognition and the social-communication phenotype of 8- through 16-year-old higher functioning children with autism. The latter has focused on describing and conceptualizing problems in reading, writing and mathematics in students with autism. This line of research suggests that the cognitive and social cognitive factors that give rise to the difficulties with learning and social communication development in preschool children with autism subsequently lead to heightened risk for learning disabilities and especially reading disability among verbal students with autism.

Outside of his interests in research on autism Dr. Mundy is an avid song writer. To hear some of his music: Misinformation Land by Clive’s Code


B.A., Psychology, Stockton State Collge, NJ, 1976
M.S., Developmental Psychology, University of Miami, 1979
Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of Miami, 1981

Dr. Mundy's publications and academic activities (PDF)

Stephen C. Noctor, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street, Room 2414
Sacramento, CA 95817 


Phone:  916-703-0435
Email:  scnoctor@ucdavis.edu 

Dr. Noctor studies perinatal development of the cerebral cortex, the folded outermost layer of the brain. The cerebral cortex plays an important role in movement, vision, hearing, touch, learning, memory, and higher cognition. The Noctor lab studies how the cerebral cortex develops during early stages of life, with a central focus on factors that control the embryonic stem and progenitor cells that produce cortical neurons and glial cells. His current work is examining how interactions between the developing nervous, immune and vascular systems govern growth of the brain during prenatal development. These studies have opened new avenues for understanding the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders that result from alterations in brain cell production.


B.A., Psychology, Rutgers University, 1991
Ph.D., Neuroscience, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, 1998

Dr. Noctor's publications and academic activities

Alex Nord, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, College of Biological Sciences: Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior
Center for Neuroscience
1544 Newton Court
Davis, CA 95618 


Email:  asnord@ucdavis.edu 

My research explores gene regulatory circuits and chromatin dynamics in the brain, studying how these features contribute to brain development, evolution, and function. I apply a combination of genomics, mouse and cell-based models, and human genetics. My work is rooted in basic and translational science, with an ultimate goal of understanding the biological components of human diseases and disorders of the brain and improving clinical care of afflicted individuals. To that end, I perform both experimental work and computational analysis to reveal function of primary DNA sequence, epigenomic modifications, and chromatin structure.


B.A.,  Biology, Carleton College, 2001
Ph.D., Genome Sciences, University of Washington, 2011

Dr. Nord's publications and academic activities

Christine Wu Nordahl, Ph.D.Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817 


Phone:  916-703-0373
Email:  cnordahl@ucdavis.edu     

Christine Wu Nordahl, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UC Davis MIND Institute. Her research program utilizes neuroimaging to study brain development in autism across the life span. Since 2006, she has spear-headed neuroimaging efforts of the UC Davis MIND Institute Autism Phenome Project, a longitudinal, interdisciplinary study aimed at identifying clinically meaningful subtypes of autism. She is particularly committed to evaluating the entire autism spectrum, including girls with autism as well as the entire range of autism severity and intellectual abilities.


B.A., Biological Sciences, Cornell University, 1996
B.A., Psychology, Cornell University, 1996
Ph.D., Neuroscience, UC Davis, 2004

Dr. Nordahl's publications and academic activities

Current Studies

Girls with Autism Imaging of Neurodevelopment (GAIN) Study


2013: Tackling the heterogeneity of autism spectrum disorder (ASD): The Autism Phenome Project
2018: Neural Biomarkers for Autism Risk
2020: Camouflaging in Autistic Women
2021: Big brains and white matter: Two studies reveal clues about autism subtypes
2021: Niñas y Mujeres con Autismo
2021: Girls and Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Neurology, Pediatric Neurology, Epilepsy and Sleep Medicine,
UC Davis School of Medicine

Department of Neurology
4860 Y Street
Sacramento, CA 95817

E-mail:  oyegbilechidi@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Oyegbile-Chidi is a neurologist as well as a sleep and epilepsy specialist. She has a special interest in understanding sleep disorders in relation to co-existent neurologic and psychiatric conditions in both adults and children.


B.S., University of Wisconsin, 1999
M.D., University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 2005
Ph.D., Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

Sally OzonoffEndowed Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street, Room 2343
Sacramento, CA 95817   


Phone:  916-703-0259
Email:  sozonoff@ucdavis.edu

Sally Ozonoff, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Her current research focuses on very young children with autism, infant screening and diagnosis, and recurrence risk. For the past 18 years, she and her team have been studying the onset of autism in a prospective investigation that follows infants from birth through adolescence. She and her research group are also developing a new video-based measure to screen for autism in infancy. Other projects are 1) exploring ways to use artificial intelligence to detect signs of autism in family videos and 2) examining the accuracy of tele-assessments for autism. The ultimate goal of these projects is to increase access to early identification services for families living far from urban medical centers.

Her clinical interests are in the diagnosis and assessment of autism spectrum disorder, with specializations in infant and adult diagnosis. Dr. Ozonoff has written over 150 peer-reviewed publications and chapters on these topics, as well as four books. Her work has been showcased on 60 Minutes, National Public Radio, and the NBC Nightly News. Dr. Ozonoff was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and Autism Research.


B.A., Psychology, Cornell University, 1983
M.S., Child Clinical Psychology, University of Denver, 1987
Ph.D., Child Clinical Psychology, University of Denver, 1991

Dr. Ozonoff's publications and academic activities

Isaac N. Pessah, Ph.D.

Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education, Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Molecular Biosciences
1089 Veterinary Medicine Drive, Room 2023
Davis, California 95616


Phone:  530-752-6696
E-mail:  inpessah@ucdavis.edu 

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.


B.S., Biological Sciences, Cornell University, 1977
M.S., Toxicology, University of Maryland, 1981
Ph.D., Toxicology, University Maryland, 1983

Katherine A. Rauen, M.D., Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Genomic Medicine
E-mail:  rauen@ucdavis.edu

Katherine (Kate) Rauen, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Genomic Medicine at the UC Davis. She received a Master’s of Science in Human Physiology and a Ph.D. in Genetics from UC Davis doing research on gene dosage compensation and genetic evolution. She obtained her M.D. at UC Irvine where she also did research in cancer genetics. Dr. Rauen did her residency training in Pediatrics and fellowship in Medical Genetics at UC San Francisco.

Dr. Rauen is internationally known for her pioneering work in the early application of microarray technology in clinical genetics and as a leader and major contributor to the understanding of the “RASopathies”, a termed she coined to describe the genetic syndromes of the Ras/MAPK pathway. Her research program involves the clinical and basic science study of cancer syndromes with effort to identify underlying genetic abnormalities affecting common developmental and cancer pathways. Dr. Rauen led the research team, including the CFC International Family Support Group that discovered the genetic cause of cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome (CFC) and independently identified the genetic cause of Costello syndrome (CS). Along with understanding the basic biochemical alteration of germline mutation in the genes BRAF and MEK1/2, Dr. Rauen most recently defined a novel myopathy in patients with CS and CFC. There are numerous intracellular signaling pathways, including the Ras pathway, involved in normal muscle development. Dr. Rauen’s research addresses the cellular mechanisms that mediate myogenesis and its dysregulation using mouse models for CS and CFC. The results of these studies have provided new insight into the mechanisms of muscle development and disease, as well as revealed new targets for therapeutic intervention.

Dr. Rauen is committed to academic medicine, medical education, and advancing best practices for patients with RASopathies. She is the innovator of the world-renowned NF/Ras Pathway Clinic which she initiated in 2007 and this clinic has now been emulated around the globe. She Chairs the annual UC Davis Human Genomics Symposium and the UC Davis Human Genomics Seminar Series. She serves on the medical advisory board of CFC International, is a Co-Director for the Costello Syndrome Family Network, and serves on the advocacy advisory broad for RASopathies Network USA and Global Genes.

Dr. Rauen was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) on her work for CFC and Costello syndrome. This Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. This Presidential Award is awarded for innovative and far-reaching developments in science and technology, in an effort to increase awareness of careers in science and engineering, give recognition to the scientific missions of participating agencies, enhance connections between fundamental research and national goals, and highlight the importance of science and technology for the nation's future.


B.S., Biology, California State University, Bakersfield, Bakersfield CA 1981
M.S., Physiology, UC Davis, Davis CA 1985
Ph.D., Genetics, UC Davis, Davis CA 1992
M.D., UC Irvine College of Medicine, Irvine CA 1995

Bibiana Restrepo M.D.Associate Clinical Professor in Pediatrics
Section of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817

Phone:  916-703-0295
E-mail:  bmrestrepo@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Bibiana Restrepo is board certified in general pediatrics and developmental-behavioral pediatrics, she serves children with a wide range of neurodevelopmental disabilities. She has a special interest in caring and helping to improve the lives of children and families with autism. Dr. Restrepo work has particularly focused on strengthening the collaboration between community practitioners serving underserved and rural populations. She is also involved in research and is especially interested in improving early identification and management of children with neurodisabilities, and timely identification of co-occurring medical and mental health conditions. She is also involved in telemedicine and teleconferencing programs with the purpose of improving care for children in remote locations, while promoting global collaborative efforts. Dr. Restrepo is currently providing clinical care for children with developmental and behavioral issues at the UC Davis MIND Institute.


M.D., Physician and Surgeon, 1999
Residency, Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in Texas Tech University, 2008
Fellowship, Tufts Medical Center, 2017
Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND program), University of Massachusetts Medical School and Eunice Kennedy Shiver Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, 2017
Graduate Certificate in Disability and Health Policy, UMass Medical School, Suffolk University, Moakley Center for Public Management and LEND Program, Worcester, Massachusetts, 2017

Dorcas Liriano Roa, Ph.D.

Director, Psychological and Behavioral Services
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817



Phone:  916-703-0267
E-mail:  dlroa@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Roa is a clinical psychologist at the UC Davis MIND Institute who serves as chief psychologist for the Massie Family Clinic. Her clinical work focuses on assessing and diagnosing neurodevelopmental disorders, such as intellectual disabilities , autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and other mental health conditions in order to guide families and children towards appropriate and evidence-based interventions. She is also a member of the research clinical team and provides support to several MIND Institute research studies seeking to build the existing knowledge of early autism risk factors. She is bilingual/bicultural and able to provide culturally competent care to native Spanish speakers.


B.A., Psychology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 1990
M.A., Counseling Psychology, Lesley College, Cambridge, MA 1994
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Pediatric and Adult Neuropsychology, Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA 2000 – 2003
Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 2001

Sally J. Rogers, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine
E-mail:  sjrogers@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Rogers is a developmental psychologist whose research focuses on young children's developmental problems, particularly involving cognition, language and communication, social interactions, and problem behaviors. She is best known for her research work in understanding early developmental trajectories of young children with autism and in developing and testing intervention strategies for them focused on the use of the Early Start Denver Model, which she developed with her colleague Geraldine Dawson. She provides intervention for young children and their families as well as for infants who are at risk of developing autism. Her work with graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other advanced trainees also focuses on working with parents and their young children with or at risk for developing autism.

She focuses on working with families and their young children with autism is to maximize the everyday learning opportunities that exist in everyday life and maximizing those moments of interaction to hold children's attention and provide them with learning opportunities that involve communication, language, and social interaction embedded within the typical daily activities of young children: meals, toy play, social games, books, outdoor play, and care activities. She and the families work together to identify a child's learning strengths, areas of learning need, and prioritizing the focus of their work together for a 6-12 week period. Individual learning plans for a child based on these priorities provide clear steps for designing child learning, beginning at the child's current level of understanding and moving along a developmental or behavioral sequence of steps until the goal is reached. Parents are young children's most effective and important teachers, and she supports family members to provide needed learning opportunities at home.

Her research focuses on young children's developmental problems, particularly involving cognition, language and communication, social interactions, and problem behaviors. She is best known for her research work in understanding early developmental trajectories of young children with autism and in developing and testing intervention strategies for them focused on the use of the Early Start Denver Model, which she developed with her colleague Geraldine Dawson.


B.A., Ashland College, 1969
M.A., Developmental Psychology, The Ohio State University, 1973
Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, The Ohio State University, 1975

Clifford D. Saron, Ph.D.

Research Scientist, Center for Mind and Brain; Lecturer, Autism Research Training Program,
UC Davis MIND Institute
267 Cousteau Place
Davis, CA 95618



Phone:  530-297-5029
E-mail:  cdsaron@ucdavis.edu  

Clifford Saron is an experimental neuroscientist with over 45 years of experience using electrophysiological and behavioral methods to study sensory and cognitive processes in humans. He is currently the director of the Core Human Neurophysiology Laboratory at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain and holds faculty appointments there and at the MIND Institute. His research is centered on using high-density event-related potentials and other electrocortical measures to investigate sensorimotor integration and attention using simple visual and motor tasks. His current studies in collaboration with Susan Rivera, graduate student Patrick Dwyer, other UC Davis researchers include investigation of multisensory integration in autism, and an assessment of the loudness dependency of the auditory ERP as part of the Autism Phenome and BRAIN Projects at the MIND Institute. For the past 19 years he has also directed a large research program investigating the effect of intensive meditation and mindfulness training on attentional control, emotion regulation and biological impacts of stress on cellular aging. These multi-disciplinary collaborative projects seek to elucidate the physiological, psychological and neural correlates of sustained training in attentional focus and the cultivation of a compassionate regard for self and others. His expertise in human electrophysiology is widely recognized. At Davis he was critical in establishing the CMB’s research infrastructure and has designed a number of prominent human ERP labs throughout the country.

Saron Lab Website


B.A., Biology, Harvard University, 1976
M.S., Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1992
Ph.D., Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1999

Rebecca Schmidt, Ph.D.Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences and UC Davis MIND Institute; Scholar, Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH), School of Medicine




Phone:  530-752-3226
E-mail:  rjschmidt@ucdavis.edu  

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California – Davis, School of Medicine. Her research goal is to advance understanding of how environmental exposures, primarily those occurring during gestation, interact with genetic susceptibility to influence neurodevelopmental outcomes for children, and more broadly, reproductive health and child development. As a molecular epidemiologist, she tends to approach epidemiologic research from a mechanistic and pathways perspective. She has over 10 years of experience in epidemiological research that began at the University of Iowa College of Public Health with her dissertation that examined gene by environment interactions as risk factors for congenital malformations, including neural tube defects. She expanded this research to other neurodevelopmental outcomes as a postdoctoral fellow in the 2-year Autism Research Training Program at the MIND Institute as part of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Department of the UC Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento. In 2010, she became a faculty member of the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences, the UC Davis Graduate Group for Epidemiology, and the MIND Institute. She teaches a course on Molecular Epidemiology and co-teaches Reproductive Epidemiology. Her research has focused largely on interaction effects between maternal nutrition and the genome in relation to autism spectrum disorders, potentially through epigenetic mechanisms. In work recognized as among the most important in 2011 by Autism Speaks and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, she and her colleagues were the first to identify a significant association between an easily modifiable factor, periconceptional prenatal vitamin intake, and reduced risk for autism spectrum disorders. In addition, they were among the first to report significant gene-by-environment interaction effects for autism, providing a potential explanation for the variation in findings across autism genetics studies. Future research will explore mechanisms behind observed interactions, including epigenetic effects, and will expand studies of interactions in the context of autism etiology, with the goal of identifying pathways for prevention and intervention.


B.S., Biology, University of Iowa, IA, 1998
M.S., Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Public Health, 2000
Ph.D., Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Public Health, 2007

Schmidt's publications and academic activities

Andrea Schneider, Ph.D.

Associate Research Scientist, Psychologist, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Fragile X Research and Treatment Program
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0202
E-mail:  anschneider@ucdavis.edu 

From very early on in her academic career, Andrea Schneider focused on interdisciplinary research with brain-behavior interactions and acquired broad knowledge in clinical psychology and medical neuroscience, with specific training and expertise in ADHD, learning disabilities, and fragile X.  Being also a clinical psychologist, her other area of interest is intervention research. As a graduate student, she completed a pilot study of a phytopharmacological intervention (Ginkgo biloba) in dyslexia, and a study about the efficacy of neurofeedback in ADHD.

Currently, her main research interest is the association between genetic and brain abnormalities underlying the neuropsychopathology, behavioral, and psychiatric symptoms in individuals with the fragile X spectrum disorders and autism.  Her major research approach focuses on a number of psychophysiological indicators, like electroencephalography/event-related potentials  measures in fragile X and autism, prepulse inhibition, eye tracking, and biofeedback.  She is strongly committed to understanding, prevention, care, and cure of neurodevelopmental disabilities.


B.S., Psychology, University of Potsdam, Germany, 1997
M.S., Clinical & Educational Psychology, Minor Neurology, University of Potsdam, Germany, 2001
Ph.D., Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Potsdam, Germany, 2007

Schneider's publications and academic activities

Cynthia M. Schumann, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0372
E-mail:  cschumann@ucdavis.edu

Cynthia Schumann completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, San Diego, and then attended graduate school at the University of California, Davis, where she received a doctoral degree in Neuroscience. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Diego, where she also moved to her first faculty position in the Department of Neurosciences. She joined the MIND Institute faculty in 2009 as assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Schumann’s previous research experience includes postmortem studies of the autistic brain and magnetic resonance imaging studies of children with autism. She is continuing her postmortem studies to investigate the neuroanatomy and neuropathology of autism, as well as leading program development for a brain tissue resource center at the MIND Institute.


B.S., Cognitive Science and Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego, 1998
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of California, Davis, 2005

Julie B. Schweitzer, Ph.D.

Director, Attention, Impulsivity, Regulation (AIR)/ADHD Program UC Davis MIND Institute;
Director, Mentored Clinical Research Training Program – CTSC, UC Davis;
Director, Mentoring Academy for Research Excellence (MARE) – CTSC, UC Davis;
Co-Director, TL1 Training Program – CTSC, UC Davis
Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street, Room 2331
Sacramento, CA 95817

Phone: 916-703-0294 
E-mail: jschweitzer@ucdavis.edu

Julie Schweitzer is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and MIND Institute. She directs the Attention, Impulsivity, Regulation (AIR)/ADHD Program UC Davis MIND Institute. Her work is translational in nature where she uses cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging and behavior analytic principles to investigate attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity in children and adults in typical development and in ADHD. She also develops tech-based interventions using virtual reality and game play to improve attention and self-control. She is a licensed psychologist,and has been awarded several grants from the NIH and other federal agencies for work in ADHD, autism and substance use. She is also active in training translational scientists across UC Davis and is a director in several education programs in UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center. In addition, she is committed to strengthening mentoring relationships for research mentors and mentees and directs the Mentoring Academy for Research Excellence.

A sample of current funded NIH projects include:

1. Developmental Changes in Neural Processes Underlying Inattention, Impulsivity and Regulation – investigation of the neural basis associated with decision making with development including neural network models of reward learning, and the interaction of brain systems during decision making in typically developing and ADHD;
2. Developing a virtual reality, home - based intervention to decrease distractibility and increase attention in children with attentional impairments;
3. Understanding changes in neurodevelopment and functioning in typically developing children, autism and developmental disabilities without autism and ADHD in response to environmental exposures (multiple PI with Irva Hertz-Picciotto & Deborah Bennett – ReCHARGE/ECHO);
4. Can fidgeting lead to enhanced attention and emotional regulation in adult ADHD?


A.B., Psychology, University of Southern California, 1982
M.S., Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1987
Ph.D., Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1990

Schweitzer's publications and academic activities

David J. Segal, Ph.D.

Professor, UC Davis Genome Center, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, MIND Institute, UC Davis School of Medicine
4512 GBSF
451 Health Sciences Drive
Davis, CA 95616


Phone:  530-754-9134
E-mail:  djsegal@ucdavis.edu  

Dr. Segal’s research focuses on engineering custom DNA-binding proteins and their application toward improving public health. He has over 60 publications on the use of targetable nucleases to make precise changes to the DNA of living cells, and the use of artificial transcription factors to activate or repress specific genes of interest.  His work has been supported by grants from the NIH, DOD, and the foundations for Angelman, Prader-Will, and Rett syndromes.  He also sits on the scientific advisory board of the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics and the Foundation for Pitt Hopkins Syndrome. He holds joint appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, the Department of Pharmacology, the MIND Institute, and the Genome Center, where he is the Associate Director of Genomics. He has mentored 18 undergraduate, 11 graduate, and six post-doctoral researchers, placing him in an excellent position to advise trainees for this program.


B.S., Biology, Cornell University, 1989
Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Utah, 1996

Segal's publications and academic activities

Segal Lab webpage

Suma P. Shankar, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Pediatrics Department, Genomic Medicine Division Director, Precision Genomics
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0235
E-mail:  spshankar@ucdavis.edu  

Suma Shankar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Genomic Medicine at the UC Davis Medical Center. Dr. Shankar was recently recruited to UC Davis to serve as the Director of Precision Genomics and will lead the effort of integrating genomics into every day clinical practice within the UC Davis Health. She will unify genomic medicine within multiple specialties in both pediatric and adult medicine for Mendelian disorders and other complex medical conditions. She is a physician-scientist, board certified in Medical Genetics (FACMG) and in Ophthalmology (MRCOphth & FRCS, United Kingdom). She obtained her Ph.D. and completed a Pediatric Ophthalmology fellowship from the University of Iowa, and a Medical Genetics fellowship from the University of California, San Francisco. She was faculty in the Departments of Human Genetics and Ophthalmology at Emory University, School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia where she initiated the Ocular Precision Health Initiative which included a BioBank and genetic studies for inherited eye diseases; the first of its kind in Georgia. She served as Medical Director for the Emory Genetics Laboratory and was the principal investigator on a number of clinical trials investigating novel therapies for rare genetic disorders. She has a number of publications and book chapters on genetic testing, ocular genomics, novel enzyme replacement, substrate and chaperone therapies. Her chief research interests include gene discovery projects and translational research for inherited diseases.


M.D., Bangalore Medical College, Bangalore India, 1990
M.B.B.S., Bangalore Medical College, Bangalore India, 1989

Frank Sharp, M.D.

Department of Neurology, School of Medicine; Member, Neuroscience and Genetics Graduate Groups
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0368
E-mail:  frsharp@ucdavis.edu

An internationally renowned clinical neurologist and neuroscientist, Frank Sharp, M.D. 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, 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. 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. 

Sharp's publications and academic activities

Joseph J. Shen, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor, Division of Genomic Medicine, Department of Pediatrics
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0382
E-mail:  jojshen@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Shen sees clinical genetics patients and families with many different medical issues including neurodevelopmental disabilities such as intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders, neuromuscular diseases, congenital anomalies, seizure disorders, and many others. Research focus is on CNKSR2-related neurodevelopmental and epilepsy disorder through work with different animal model systems and human biological samples, aiming for therapeutic options for this rare disorder. Other research interests include investigating genetic determinants of developmental dysplasia of the hip and exploring the role of clinical response to treatment in genomic variant interpretation.


Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University, 1998
M.D., Case Western Reserve University, 1999

Shen's publications and academic activities

Jill L. Silverman, Ph.D.Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; University of California Davis School of Medicine
4625 2nd Avenue 1001A
Sacramento, CA 95817



Phone:  916-734-8531
E-mail:  jsilverman@ucdavis.edu

Jill Silverman completed her undergraduate education at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biological Sciences and Psychology (Honors) with a heavy emphasis in Neurobiology and Behavior. During this time, she gained insight into the clinical neurological community, by working with individuals with behavioral disruptions caused by traumatic brain injuries. For her doctoral research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, she identified the impact of stress-related mechanisms in major mental illnesses. Employing rodent models, she investigated neuroendocrine regulatory mechanisms through which episodes of depression, schizophrenia and drug abuse are triggered or exacerbated by inappropriate responses to stressors. For her postdoctoral training, she was recruited by Jacqueline Crawley, to join her Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda. Her projects employed a multi-tiered comprehensive phenotyping strategy, designed by Jacqueline Crawley, which has led to the discovery and publication of clinically relevant phenotypes in mutant mouse models of human genetic diseases including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, intellectual disabilities and Phelan-McDermid Syndrome.

The overarching goal of my research is to apply her two decades of training and experience with rodent model systems to design and implement effective translation strategies for discovering gene therapies for neurodevelopmental disorders, specifically syndromes with an autism, IQ and epilepsy component.

In 2012, she was recruited to the faculty of the University of California Davis and MIND Institute. She developed a research program on rare genetic developmental disorders characterized intellectual disabilities and pediatric epilepsies. She also serves as the mouse behavioral core Director on the MIND Institute’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center grant. In 2021, she became a full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Her laboratory chose to pause focus on the broader Autisms/epilepsies and to center on rare genetic syndromes that would be candidates for gene and cell-based “curative” therapies.

She is the sole, basic scientist and founding member of the Alliance for Genetic Etiologies of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (AGENDA). She is an internationally a recognized expert in preclinical models and has been elected to the Council and named a Fellow of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS), a professional society formed to encourage research and education in the field of the brain and behavior. She is an Associate Editor for Molecular Autism and her publications have been cited ~4492 over her career.

Shew is also a leader in training new behavioral neuroscientists. She has trained, supervised and mentored numerous undergraduates, postbaccalaureates, Howard Hughes Medical Institute intern students and postdoctoral fellows. She has 4 Ph.D.'s. She also communicates and participates in dialogue aimed at informing parent advocates of the nation’s top non-profit organizations to aide support and funding tailored to basic research in neurodevelopmental disorders. She also enjoys educating on the use of animal models in studies of autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities to student and public communities.


Ph.D., University of Maryland, 2007
B.A., Rutgers University, 1999

Silverman's publications and academic activities

Marjorie Solomon, Ph.D.

Oates Family Endowed Chair in Lifespan Development in Autism,
Professor, UC Davis MIND Institute,
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences,
UC Davis School of Medicine
Interim Director, MIND Institute
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street, Room 2278
Sacramento, CA 95817 

Phone:  916-703-0270
E-mail:  marsolomon@ucdavis.edu

Marjorie Solomon is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and the MIND Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from UC Berkeley, and an M.B.A. from Stanford Graduate School of Business. She also is a licensed clinician with a broad background in clinical assessment and psychosocial intervention for autistic individuals without intellectual disability, and received an NIMH Career Development Award to learn cognitive neuroscience methods including fMRI to study higher cognition though the lifespan in these individuals. From 2012-2012, Solomon served as an appointee of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. She was the Interim Director of the UC Davis Imaging Research Center from October 2016 to July 2018. She also is Interim Director of the MIND Institute and co-Director of MIND Institute’s NIMH funded T-32, the Autism Research Training Program.

Solomon’s research examines cognitive development in autistic individuals through the lifespan using neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience methods including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). She currently is funded by NIMH to use the Autism Phenome Project (APP) longitudinal cohort to examine intellectual development and cognitive functioning between middle childhood and adolescence (ages 8-18) and to examine the emergence of depression in these individuals during this time.

Solomon’s ultimate goal is to apply what she learns through her neuroscience investigations to the development of interventions – the area where she began her career at the MIND, and one she continues to develop as the Research Director of the MIND social skills training group program. She is currently supported by the California Department of Developmental Services to study an empirically validated model of supported employment for young adults with autism and with intellectual disabilities. During her career, she is fortunate to have received philanthropic funding from Joyce and Jim Teel for the Thomas P. Raley Foundation, the Oates Family Foundation, and the UC Davis Behavioral Health Center of Excellence. These gifts have permitted her to further develop intervention programs to serve autistic adults.


B.A., Latin American Studies, Harvard University, 1981
M.B.A., Business Administration, Stanford University, 1985
Ph.D., Social and Personality Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, 1999

Solomon's publications and academic activities

Nicole Sparapani, Ph.D. CCC-SLP

Associate Professor, UC Davis MIND Institute and the School of Education
Phone:  530-752-6137
Email:  njsparapani@ucdavis.edu

Nicole Sparapani’s background in speech-language pathology, developmental psychology, and education has informed her research agenda, which focuses on the dynamic and transactional interplay between children and their classroom environment. The overarching goal of her research agenda is to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of learners with autism and other complex learning needs. Her work contributes to a limited literature base as well as provides insight into best instructional practices for students with complex learning needs. She is currently the PI of an IES-funded exploration study investigating the role of teacher-student interactions within general education classrooms serving students with autism (R324A210288).


B.A. Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Florida, 2000
M.A. Speech-Language Pathology, University of Northern Colorado, 2003
Ph.D. Communication Science and Disorders, Florida State University, 2013
Postdoctoral Research. Developmental Psychology, Arizona State University, 2016

Sparapani's publications and academic activities

Sparapani Lab Webpage

Aubyn Stahmer, Ph.D.Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817



Phone:  916-703-0254
Email:  astahmer@ucdavis.edu

Aubyn Stahmer is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Director of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the MIND Institute. She is an expert in the translation of evidence-based autism research to community-based practice and delivery. The main goals of her research include developing ways to help community providers, such as teachers and therapists, help autistic children and their families by providing high quality care. She is an internationally respected expert in the use of naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions which are validated treatments for autism. She has conducted extensive research in the areas of parent coaching, early intervention, inclusive education and services research in autism. She leads several grants funded through the U.S. Department of Education that involve adapting evidence-based practices for children with autism in collaboration with teachers and community providers. She is a member of the Autism Research Intervention Network in Behavioral Health, a multi-site, community partnered program aimed at increasing access to evidence-based care to autistic children and their families in rural and historically marginalized populations. Most of her work is conducted in collaboration with community partners who shape the research questions and goals with the academic team. She is an editor of Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice. In addition, she is very involved in the autism community, participating in the California Best Practice Guidelines Committee and the National Standards projects, developing guidelines for autism treatment.


B.A., Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1989
M.A., Psychology, University of California, San Diego, 1990
Ph.D., Psychology, University of California, San Diego, 1993

Stahmer's publications and academic activities

Meagan Talbott, Ph.D.Assistant Professional Researcher, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817
Phone:  916-703-0479
E-mail:  mtalbott@ucdavis.edu 

Meagan Talbott, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professional Researcher in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the MIND Institute. Her research focuses on gesture and language development, early identification and treatment of ASD, and telehealth approaches to evaluating infant development and treatment efficacy. She is currently studying the utility of a telehealth-based assessment for identifying infants at high likelihood of ASD, and the developmental trajectories and clinical outcomes of infants with very early symptoms. The overall goal of this work is to improve early identification practices and to develop and test telehealth-mediated interventions to support families during a period of diagnostic uncertainty.


B.S., Psychology, UC Davis, 2007
M.A., Psychology, Boston University, 2009
Ph.D., Psychology, Boston University, 2014

Flora Tassone, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine; Investigator, UC Davis MIND Institute,
University of California, Davis
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0463
E-mail:  ftassone@ucdavis.edu 

Dr. Flora Tassone, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, a MIND Institute Investigator at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, and the Director of the National Fragile X Foundation Collaborative Biomarker Research Program (NFXF CBR Program-Biobank), which is hosted in her, CLIA certified laboratory, and funded by the National Fragile Foundation.

She received a PhD from the Catholic University of Rome, Italy, for her studies on Down Syndrome. During the postdoctoral fellowship, first at the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in Denver, and then at University of Colorado Health Science Center she continued to work on the identification of genes involved in Down Syndrome and started to focus her attention on the molecular basis leading to Fragile X syndrome and autism. She then moved to UC Davis where her laboratory research, continued to focus on neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her expertise is in transcriptional and translational regulation, and in particular of the fragile X (FMR1) gene. Dr. Tassone has made several important observations related to the mechanism of gene expression of the FMR1 gene, especially regarding the effects of premutation alleles on individuals (premutation carriers) the scientific community thought to be clinically unaffected. Specifically, she investigated the clinical manifestations, protein and FMR1 mRNA expression in individuals with fragile X syndrome and made the important discovery of gene dysregulation (increased mRNA activity) among premutation carriers. This discovery provided the molecular basis for the forms of clinical involvement among carriers, including fragile X associated tremor ataxia syndrome (FXTAS), which was described in 2001 by her team. Since then, she has had a long-standing focus on the molecular mechanisms related to the FMR1-associated disorders.

She was the PI on the first pilot study on Newborn Screening in Fragile X syndrome, funded by NICHD, the first of its kind in United States, which has generated prevalence data on FMR1 expanded alleles. She has developed a PCR-based methodology for both Fragile X syndrome and 22q deletion screening from blood spots.

She is involved in research aimed to the identification of susceptibility genes, genomic changes, and mitochondrial dysfunction in FXS, FXTAS, autism and 22q deletion syndrome.

She is actively involved in developing molecular biomarkers for predicting efficacy in target treatments and for monitoring disease progression in children and adolescents with FXS and in older premutation carriers with FXTAS. She has made many contributions to the fragile X community and, she is the author of over 350 peer reviewed scientific papers.

Dr. Tassone has extensive experience in medical genetics and clinical analysis. She has been granted multiple awards, fellowship, and training opportunities, as well as research awards from NICHD, NIH, the National Fragile X Foundation, and UC Davis Health for her outstanding contributions to the field.


B.S., Biology, University of Rome, 1983
Med Genetic, Medical Genetics, University of Rome, 1988
Ph.D., Molecular Biology, Catholic University of Rome, 1992

Dr. Tassone's publications and academic activities (PDF)

Angela John Thurman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0467
E-mail:  ajthurman@ucdavis.edu 

Dr. Thurman's research at the UC Davis MIND Institute focuses on characterizing the dynamic processes underlying the development of language and other skills in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome and Williams syndrome. Because development stems from a continuous interplay of multiple influences across time, unpacking the influences of the behavioral phenotypes (areas of strength and challenge) in neurodevelopmental disorders provides insight into the factors supporting and impeding development and how this differs across neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Thurman's current projects are focused on characterizing developmental similarities and differences across different neurodevelopmental disorders and identifying the factors influencing child development. She is also interested in the development and validation of new methods for measuring cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills across the lifespan in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. The long-range goal is that this work will help identify the extent to which similar and/or different processes should be targeted in intervention efforts across neurodevelopmental disorders.


B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 2003
M.A., University of Louisville, 2006
Ph.D., University of Louisville, 2011

Megan Tudor, Ph.D

Assistant Clinical Professor, Pediatrics Department, Clinical Psychologist, MIND Institute

UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0365
E-mail:  metudor@ucdavis.edu 

Megan E. Tudor, Ph.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the MIND Institute. Dr. Tudor conducts research related to support for siblings of autistic youth, including the Sibling Interview Study (SIS). She also is the Supervisor of the cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) arm of the Specifying and Treatment Anxiety in Autism Research (STAAR) study as part of the UC Davis Autism Center of Excellence (ACE). Dr. Tudor co-runs the Anxiety Treatment Center where she provides CBT to youth with anxiety and co-occurring disabilities. Dr. Tudor serves on the Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Ally Committee working to improve accessibility and equity in research and clinical services. She is also LEND faculty and a RISE mentor, and provides clinical supervision, training, and teaching to the next generation of providers within MIND and the broader community.


B.A., Psychology, California State University San Bernardino, 2008
M.A., Clinical Psychology, Stony Brook University, 2011
Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Stony Brook University, 2015
Postdoc, Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, 2017

Judy Van de Water, Ph.D.

UC Davis Center for Children’s Environmental Health, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, UC Davis School of Medicine
451 Health Sciences Drive, Suite 6510 Genome Bldg.
Davis, California 95616



Phone:  530-752-2154
E-mail:  javandewater@ucdavis.edu  

Dr. Van de Water has a broad background in clinical immunology and immunopathology, with specific training and expertise in the gestational immune environment. Over the past 18 years, she expanded her research to include the immunobiological aspects associated with autism, which includes the maternal gestational immune environment, and how perturbation during gestation can impact the developing brain. Dr. Van de Water’s laboratory has worked to successfully understand the maternal cellular immune response and the humoral immune response during pregnancy and how dysregulation in these systems relates to neurobehavioral disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. Her group discovered the role of maternal autoantibodies in the development of autism spectrum disorder that has led to the definition of a new sub-phenotype of ASD arising through this mechanism. In addition, she is a Co-Investigator on the UC Davis Conte Center studying neuroimmune mechanisms of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, and is PI of Project 1. In addition, Dr. Van de Water is currently the Co-Director of the NICHD-funded MIND Institute Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, for which she heads the Molecular and Biological Analysis Core and is PI of the project embedded in the IDDRC.


B.S., Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis, 1978
Ph.D., Immunology, University of California, Davis, 1988

Cheryl K. Walker, M.D.

Associate Research Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, UC Davis School of Medicine
4869 Y Street, Suite 2500
Sacramento, CA 95817



Phone:  916-734-6670
E-mail:  ckwalker@ucdavis.edu

Cheryl Walker, MD, is an Obstetrician Gynecologist who has been working to understand the role of the gestational environment in the development of autism and developmental disabilities for the past several years. Dr. Walker’s early research concentrated on the impact of infections and immunologic responses in reproductive health and pregnancy outcomes.  She transitioned her focus to reproductive epidemiology over a decade ago, and began working to understand the complex influences of maternal physiology, medical conditions and obstetric interventions on neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders.  Working with various data sources, including self-reported data, objective information from medical records, biological samples and large administrative databases, Dr. Walker is trying to understand how the gestational environment responds to maternal conditions that result systemic inflammation, metabolic derangements, and placental suboptimality, and what implications these alterations have for neurodevelopment.


B.A., History, Smith Collge, Northampton, MA 1980
M.D., University of California, San Francisco, CA 1985

Dr. Walker's publications and academic activities

Breanna M. Winder-Patel, Ph.D.

Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817

Phone: 916-703-0385
E-mail: bwinderpatel@ucdavis.edu

Dr. Winder-Patel is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at the MIND Institute and Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. She has a strong interest in the assessment and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, pediatric anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.

Dr. Winder-Patel began an anxiety treatment clinic upon joining the MIND Institute to continue her passion of providing Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), and Habit Reversal Training (HRT) to children and adolescents. She is also involved in clinical research with a focus on further understanding autism spectrum disorder in girls and the clinical and behavioral manifestation of anxiety in children with neurodevelopmental disorders.


M.A., Ph.D., Clinical Developmental Psychology, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr PA 2013
M.A., Psychology, Boston University, Boston MA 2003
B.A., West Chester University, West Chester PA 2001


Gregory S. Young, Ph.D.

Associate Research Scientist, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine
UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817


Phone:  916-703-0276
E-mail:  dryoung@ucdavis.edu   

An assistant research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Gregory Young is a developmental psychologist. He specializes in longitudinal research design and analysis, with an interest in eye-tracking and behavioral coding as ways to measure intra-individual change as it relates to typical development and the early onset of developmental disorders such as autism.  He collaborates with Drs. Sally Rogers and Sally Ozonoff on studies of the onset and treatment of autism in infant siblings and young preschoolers, and with Dr. Julie Schweitzer on the role of norepinephrine and the locus ceruleus in ADHD as measured by pupil dilation dynamics.  Dr. Young also has specific interests and expertise in statistical analysis techniques using hierarchical generalized models as applied to growth curve analysis, Rasch measurement modeling, and sequential analysis of time series data.  Additionally, he has expertise in database programming and advanced data processing algorithms for use with methodologies such as eye-tracking and behavioral coding.  Dr. Young reviews regularly for a number of publications including Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Autism Research, Biological Psychiatry, and Biological Letters.


B.A., Psychology and English, University of Colorado, 1993
Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of Maine, 2001

Konstantino Zarbalis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, UC Davis School of Medicine,
Assistant Investigator, Shriners Hospitals for Children
Shriners Hospitals for Children
2425 Stockton Blvd.
Sacramento, California 9581


Phone:  916-453-2189
E-mail:  kzarbalis@ucdavis.edu   

Dr. Zarbalis’ research interests focus on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that direct the development of the craniofacial skeleton and forebrain. Particular emphasis is put on the analysis of the molecular program underlying the differentiation of cranial neural crest cells. Additional projects investigate the cues that guide the migration, differentiation, and connectivity of cortical neurons. In our studies we take advantage of mouse lines with striking craniofacial or neurodevelopmental defects caused by mutations in specific genes.


B.S., Zoology, Technical University Munich, 1995
Ph.D., Developmental Neurobiology, Technical University Munich, 2000