14th Annual Department of Psychiatry Research Day Celebrates Outstanding Science, Mentorship, and Academic Service

The Department of Psychiatry hosted its 14th Annual Research Day on June 5, 2014 at the University Club in Oakland, attracting the largest number of participants in the history of the event.  Dr. David Lewis, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and the UPMC Endowed Professor in Translational Neuroscience, welcomed over 300 registered guests to this year's event.

Research Day is an important tradition that celebrates the diverse basic, translational, clinical and health services research in the Department of Psychiatry. It also recognizes the contributions of our outstanding scientists and our faculty's dedication to mentorship and academic service in support of research.

The morning poster session featured 120 presentations by faculty, postdoctoral trainees, residents, students and staff.  The presentations illustrated the innovative research and clinical service and quality improvement initiatives that investigators across the career spectrum are conducting in the Department. Poster topics covered research in brain development, child and adolescent psychiatry, mechanisms and consequences of substance use alcohol disorders, translational neuroscience, and geriatric psychiatry, among others.  

Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2014 Outstanding Poster prizes in recognition of the quality of their research and their presentations:

Postdoctoral Trainees:

  • Megan L. Bertholomey, PhD - Sex Differences in Cue- and Yohimbine-induced Reinstatement of  Ethanol Seeking and Anxiety-like Behavior, but not Depressive-like Behavior, in Rats Exposed to Corticosterone during Adolescence
  • Matthew MacDonald, PhD - Altered Glutamate Signaling Protein Co-Expression Network Topology Correlates with Spine Loss in the Auditory Cortex of Schizophrenia
  • Laura Morrett, PhD - Multimodal Communication in Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Sarah E. Racine, PhD - Longitudinal Associations between Emotion Regulation Difficulties and Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa: Implications for Theory and Treatment

Science Trainees:

  • Daniel Wonjae Chung, MS - ErbB4 Splicing is Preferentially Dysregulated in Layer 4 of Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex of Schizophrenia
  • Scott Marek, BS - Developmental Integration of Emerging Control Systems in Functional Human Brain Networks
  • Regina Triplett, BS - Toward a Clinical Screening Tool for Cognitive and Behavioral Comorbidity in Medication-Naïve Children with Recent-Onset Seizures

Medical Trainees:

  • Xenia Borue, MD, PhD (not pictured) - Emotion Regulation Patterns in Adolescents with High-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: Comparison to Typically-Developing Adolescents and Association with Psychiatric Symptoms
  • Brandon McKinney, MD, PhD - The Somatostatin Promoter is Hypermethylated in the Aged Human Prefrontal Cortex


  • Thomas E. Kraynak, BA - Childhood Trauma is Associated with Exaggerated Neural Reactivity to Criticism
  • Summer A.F. McKnight, MSEd - Factor Structure of the Scale of Prodromal Symptoms and Empirical Development of a Brief Version in Youth at High Risk for Schizophrenia


Dr. Paul Pilkonis, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, was presented with the Distinguished Mentor Award in recognition of his commitment to education, mentorship and faculty career development.  In presenting the award, Dr. Lewis noted the significant time and effort that Dr. Pilkonis has devoted to service on numerous dissertation committees, as a mentor for multiple NIH career development and research service awards, and as a teacher of medical students and residents.  He also recognized the instrumental role that Dr. Pilkonis has played in the development and implementation of training opportunities for learners across the spectrum, and his leadership of programs designed to train and nurture the next generation of clinicians and scientists, work that has been central in establishing the Department's reputation as a world class training facility.  In addition to serving as the Director of the WPIC Psychology Internship Program, the T32 Postdoctoral Research Training Program for Clinical Psychologists, and the K award application process, Dr. Pilkonis played a central role in developing the Research Survival Skills Seminar for post-docs and, most recently, has served as a Co-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry Research Review Committee.  

The Research Review Committee is an important component of the Department's research infrastructure. In recognition for their outstanding service on the Committee, Drs. Tammy Chung, Cecile Ladouceur (not pictured), Erika Forbes and David Volk were presented with Reviewer of the Year Awards. Dr. Lewis thanked all faculty serving on the committee for giving generously of their time and for their thoughtful review of new research proposals.