Research picture

Global Mental Health Initiatives

Global Mental Health Initiatives

Global Mental Health Initiatives

Department of Psychiatry Faculty
in International
Mental Health Collaborations


Boris Birmaher, MD

Endowed Chair in Early Onset Bipolar Disease and Professor of Psychiatry
Throughout his career in the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Birmaher has established relationships with senior scientists, junior faculty, and trainees from institutions throughout the world interested in improving the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders.  Dr. Birmaher has mentored medical students, residents, post doctoral fellows and junior investigators from around the world including the United Kingdom, France, Chile, Brazil, and China.  In addition, Dr. Birmaher has collaborated with colleagues from the University of Paris and the Fondation FondaMental on a series of projects examining affective disorders in children and their families, and is the recipient of the 2006 Academie National de Medecine International Award for Study of Pediatric Bipolar Disorder in France.  He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Fundacion Alicia Koplowitz, an organization based in Madrid, Spain that is dedicated to supporting initiatives focusing on infant-juvenile psychiatry.  Dr. Birmaher is a popular lecturer who has presented his work before audiences at numerous academic institutions, professional meetings and international conferences in the United States, Australia, Colombia, France, and other countries. He is also a member of the International Society of PsychoNeuroEndocrinology (ISPNE), the Hispanic Mental Health Association, and the Royal Society of Medicine in addition to numerous U.S.-based professional organizations.

Ellen Frank, PhD

Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology
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Throughout her illustrious career, Dr. Frank’s laboratory has led internationally-recognized studies of interventions for mood disorders and the mechanisms underlying the response to those interventions. Of particular importance is her development of Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT), an innovative treatment which blends a behavioral intervention aimed at increasing the stability of social routines with the interpersonal interventions of Klerman and Weissman’s interpersonal psychotherapy.  Because of the national and international demand for training in this intervention, Dr. Frank has established an IPSRT Training Institute that seeks to disseminate this intervention both nationally and abroad, and has conducted training workshops in Paris, France and Siena, Italy.  Dr. Frank has been involved in several collaborative academic and research initiatives with colleagues in Europe. With her colleagues at the University of Pisa in Italy, Dr. Frank has been actively engaged in a 10-year project focusing on assessment instrument development, and – with support the National Institute of Mental Health and a private foundation – examined depression treatment in adults.  Dr. Frank also is a co-investigator of a proposed Gates Foundation grant to scale up the use of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for depression in Ethiopia. Dr. Frank also has an adjunct faculty appointment at the University of Siena Department of Psychiatry and consults to a project on research protocol development.  She has been extremely active with associates at the University of Paris and the Fondation FondaMental in Frank in the ongoing development of bipolar disorder expert centers that will provide collaborative opportunities for future training and research initiatives.  Dr. Frank was a member of The International Society of Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) Task Force on Nomenclature and a co-author of the group’s Report on the Nomenclature of Course and Outcome in Bipolar Disorders in 2009.  She is a highly-regarded lecturer who has presented her work at conferences throughout the world including Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Japan, South Africa, Israel, Italy and France.  In addition, Dr. Frank has served as a mentor to numerous postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty from institutions outside of the United States that have sought training through the Department of Psychiatry’s Adult Affective Disorders program.

Mary Ganguli, MD, MPH

Professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, and Neurology
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Dr. Ganguli is a psychiatrist and epidemiologist with particular interests in late-life mental disorders and cross-cultural studies of those disorders, including culture-fair assessment methods for those disorders.  She has trained, and worked, in the U.S., Canada, and India.  She has conducted large NIH-funded population-based studies of dementia and cognitive impairment, including one entitled Indo-US Cross-National Dementia Epidemiology Study (R01 AG09202) from NIA, 1991-1999.  She received the 2009 Outstanding Academician Award from the Indo-American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Ganguli has presented her work at conferences in the U.S. and overseas, published articles in several US and international journals of psychiatry, neurology, gerontology, geriatrics, and epidemiology, reviews for a range of journals, and serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society as well as International Psychogeriatrics.  She has also served as external examiner for doctoral dissertations in Canada and Sweden.

Marcella Horvitz-Lennon, MD, MPH

Physician Scientist, RAND Corporation
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry,
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Dr. Horvitz-Lennon’s main research interests are health care disparities, diffusion of innovations, underuse of evidence-based practices, overuse of ineffective or low value interventions, care of medical comorbidities, and physician prescribing behavior. She is also interested in methodological issues in psychiatric research.  She is a Physician Scientist at RAND-Pittsburgh and also holds an adjunct appointment at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.  Dr. Horvitz-Lennon’s previous affiliations include the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at the Cambridge Health Alliance, the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, and the Chilean Ministry of Health. She has conducted mental health services and policy research on patterns of service use and quality of care for persons with mental illnesses. Her main population focus is people with schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses, including those who are homeless. Her recent projects include a study of mental health policies in Latin America, with a specific focus on integration of mental health in primary care and best practices for cost-effective resource allocation; an in-depth investigation of racial and ethnic disparities in schizophrenia care, and; a project identifying and addressing health care disparities among severely mentally ill Latinos.

J. Richard Jennings, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science
Dr. Jennings’ research program focuses on how psychological factors act through the brain to influence normal and pathological change in the body. He currently is examining whether activated brain blood flow in hypertensives is altered when hypertension is heated; whether low and high physiological reactors to stress have different patterns of brain activation; whether vagal influences maintain health in at-risk populations; and whether there are psychological factors influencing balance in the elderly.  Dr. Jennings is an International Organization of Psychophysiology Fellow and has served as a reviewer for the International Journal of Psychophysiology, International Journal of Psychology and the European Journal of Neurology among others. Through his fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Dr. Jennings is actively in developing collaborative research initiatives with colleagues in Europe.  

Maria Kovacs, PhD

Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry
Dr. Kovacs is internationally known for her pioneering work on the presentation, clinical course, and outcomes of depressive disorders that first onset in childhood. Her approach to nosological research has included novel combinations of operational definitions, follow up methods, longitudinal statistical models, and extensive instrument and questionnaire development. She has been one of the first researchers to investigate child psychiatric nosology in a non-psychiatric population: children newly diagnosed with insulin dependent (Type 1) diabetes mellitus, documenting both the risk of depression and its independent contribution to diabetic retinopathy in this medically ill population.  Dr. Kovacs’ research then logically segued into the study of risk factors for pediatric depression via a cross-disciplinary program project that included multiple generations in target families, and was implemented across three countries: the USA, Canada, and Hungary. With her Hungarian colleagues, Dr. Kovacs designed and carried out the first systematic, nation-wide, child psychiatric study of the genetics of depression in Hungary, made possible with funding by the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr.  Kovacs also has long-standing collaborations with child psychiatry colleagues in Bangalore, India, and has been particularly interested in the effects of culture on manifest psychopathology. Current studies by her and her research group address the role of psychological and physiological components of emotion regulation in risk of early-onset depression, as well as the effects of a novel emotion-regulation focused therapy for young depressed children.  Dr. Kovacs has published extensively and has lectured widely and has worked with various post-doctoral fellows from different cultural backgrounds.

David J. Kupfer, MD

Thomas Detre Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Neuroscience and Clinical and Translational Science
Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Kupfer has promoted widespread collaborations between clinical investigators in psychiatry and neuroscience those in more basic neurosciences in the United States and overseas, and has been heavily engaged in the career development and mentorship of students, trainees and faculty. He has served as the Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on numerous grants sponsored by the federal government and private foundations, and has written more than 1000 articles, books, and book chapters that examine treatment in recurrent depression, the causes of depression, and the relationship between biomarkers and depression. In recognition of his contributions to the field, Dr. Kupfer has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the A.E. Bennett Research Award in Clinical Science (1975), the Anna-Monika Foundation Prize (1977), the Daniel H. Efron Award (1979), the Twenty-Sixth Annual Award of the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital in Memory of Edward A. Strecker, M.D. (1989), the William R. McAlpin, Jr, Research Achievement Award (1990), the 1993 American Psychiatric Association Award for Research in Psychiatry, the First Isaac Ray Decade of Excellence Award (1994), the Twelfth Annual Edward J. Sachar Award (1996), the 1996 Gerald Klerman Lifetime Research Award (jointly with Dr. Ellen Frank), the Institute of Medicine’s 1998 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health, and the American Psychopathological Association’s 1999 Joseph Zubin Award (jointly with Dr. Ellen Frank). He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1990 and is the Founding President of the International Society of Bipolar Disorders. Most recently, he was the 2010 Litchfield lecturer at the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University and the recipient of the 2010 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Julius Axelrod Mentorship Award. Dr. Kupfer also chairs the American Psychiatric Association’s Task Force for DSM-5.

Hader Mansour, MD, PhD

Instructor in Psychiatry
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Dr. Mansour collaborates closely with Dr. Vishwajit Nimgaonkar and his team. His research interests include in the area of bipolar disorder and the genetics of mental illness.  Dr. Mansour is the Co-Principal Investigator for the five-year Tri National Training Program in Psychiatric Genetics funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This important program provides Dr. Mansour with the opportunity to combine his excellent mentorship skills and his targeted research activities to help train the next generation of physician scientists, and involves the participation of researchers and trainees from the United States, Egypt, and India. Dr. Mansour has collaborated on peer-reviewed articles appearing journals in the U.S. and other countries and is the lead author of a 2010 article appearing in Schizophrenia Research focusing on Consanguinity and increased risk for schizophrenia in Egypt.

Nadine Melhem, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Dr. Melhem is conducting a collaborative project on the genetic linkage of depression and anxiety disorders in an Arab Kindred population. This kindred consists of approximately 1,000 individuals across five generations that originate from a single pair of founders and have increased rates of suicidal behavior, depression, and anxiety disorders. In addition to psychiatric disorders, several genetic diseases have been reported in this kindred. The ethnic homogeneity and the endogamy in this kindred and the presence of medical genetic phenotypes segregating along with the psychiatric phenotypes makes it unique and promising for the possibility for mapping genes of importance for psychiatric phenotypes. This has been a collaborative project with Drs. David Brent, Bernie Devlin, and Robert Ferrell at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to her background in psychiatric genetic epidemiology, Dr. Melhem's personal background and previous experience in mental health research in Lebanon were essential for the conduct of the study from constructing pedigrees to knowledge of instruments already translated into Arabic, translating other instruments, and interacting with the research team.   Dr. Melhem continues to collaborate with researchers in Lebanon and is a member of the Institute for Development, Research, Advocacy, and Applied Care (IDRAAC), a non-profit organization in Lebanon, whose mission is to promote research in mental health, to increase public awareness, and to participate in the improvement of training and educational programs in mental health. She has been involved in the training of postdoctoral fellows and Fullbright scholars from the Middle East.

Vishwajit Nimgaonkar, MD, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry and Human Genetics
Email: or
Web Site:
Dr. Nimgaonkar directs the Program for Genetics and Psychoses at the University of Pittsburgh. His research is focused on causation of severe psychiatric illnesses, including genetic and environmental factors. With support from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and other sponsors, Dr. Nimgaonkar coordinates several international research projects including studies taking place in the United States, India and Egypt.  He is the Principal Investigator of the Tri-National Training Program in Psychiatric Genetics  which seeks to build research infrastructure in Egypt and India, and to provide training opportunities in psychiatric genetics to doctoral candidates in these countries. Dr. Nimgaonkar is also the Principal Investigator of a study funded by the Stanly Medical Research Institute, Testing Biomarkers for Schizophrenia based on Infectious Exposure and Host Genetic Variation. This project aims to replicate and refine detected associations among individuals without schizophrenia, evaluate segregation of associated SNP’s from detected associations among schizophrenia patients and their relatives.  Dr. Nimgaonkar is also a highly sought-after mentor and has trained postdoctoral fellows and junior investigators from South Korea and Egypt.

Mary Phillips, MD

Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical and Translational Science
Web Site:
Dr. Phillips directs the Clinical and Translational Affective Neuroscience Program, a large group of dedicated clinical neuroscientists in the Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  This program uses multimodal imaging techniques to examine the function and structural integrity of neural circuits supporting human emotion processing and emotion regulation. The program’s long-term research goal is use these neuroimaging techniques to identify specific functional and structural abnormalities in neural systems underlying the different processes important for emotion processing and emotion regulation that may be present as objective biomarkers of disorder in individuals with major psychiatric illnesses, including bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  She also co-directs the Brain Imaging Research Center (BIRC), a joint venture between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. This Dr. Phillips also is a Consultant in Clinical Affective Neuroscience to the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Cardiff in Wales.  She is a world renowned scientist who has published her work in high impact, international scientific journals and is a frequent presenter at professional meetings and scientific conferences throughout Europe and the United States.  Throughout her career, Dr. Phillips has collaborated with investigators from around the globe including Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany on a series of research projects.  She has published her work in a significant number of high impact scientific journals and presented at professional meetings, conferences, and academic institutions in the United States, England, Canada and Japan.  Dr. Phillips is also known for her outstanding mentorship of trainees and junior faculty from France, Spain, Italy, and Brazil, among others.

Charles F. Reynolds III, MD

UPMC Endowed Professor of Geriatric Psychiatry, and Professor of Neurology, Neuroscience, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, and Clinical and Translational Science
Web Site:
Dr. Reynolds serves as the Principal Investigator of a federally-funded Advanced Center for Intervention and/or Services Research (ACISR) in the prevention of late life mood disorders and their sequelae (P30 MH090333). In addition, he is currently collaborating with investigators in Goa, Amsterdam, and London to develop a depression prevention intervention that would be scalable in low- and middle-income countries.  Dr. Reynolds is the past-president of the International College of Geriatric Psychoneuropharmacology and is a member of the International Academy for Suicide Research.  He has published his work extensively in international scientific journals and presented frequently at conferences, professional meetings, and workshops in the United States and other countries including Toronto, Canada, Bologna, Italy, and Basel, Switzerland.

Michael J. Travis, MD, MRCPsych

Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Dr. Travis received his medical training at Guy’s Hospital, London, UK and in psychiatry at St. Bartholomew’s and Hackney Hospitals, and The Royal Bethlem and Maudsley Hospitals, London, UK. He has been heavily involved in education and mentorship throughout career. Prior to his appointment at the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 as Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Residency Training at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), Dr. Travis was the Clinical Tutor, (Residency Training Director) and overall organizer of the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospitals SHO Training in Psychiatry.  His main research interest is the study of drug action and neural systems using functional and neurochemical imaging.  He has published both original experimental research, books and book chapters on schizophrenia, mood disorders and general neuropharmacology. In addition to his administrative responsibilities as Director of Residency Training and his current research activities, Dr. Travis also is a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital and an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Clinical Neuropharmacology at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.


If you are interested in learning more about Global Mental Health initiatives that our faculty and trainees are engaged in, or learn more about opportunities for you to share your global health interests with others in the University community, please contact Dr. Vishwajit Nimgaonkar at