Department of Psychiatry Welcomes Talented New Researchers to Its Faculty


The Department of Psychiatry is well known as a leader in research examining the causes of mental health disorders and the development of innovative diagnostic and treatment methods to improve the lives of people living with these disorders. The recent appointment of four new research faculty has contributed to that reputation in the field and expanded the Department's research activities focusing on the brain and behavior.

Brandon McKinney, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry 
Dr. McKinney studies the regulation of gene expression by DNA methylation in schizophrenia. His studies utilize postmortem brain tissue from individuals with schizophrenia, primary neuronal cultures, and cutting-edge molecular and statistical approaches to genomic/epigenetic data in order to identify epigenetic drug targets and novel treatment approaches. After earning his MD and PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Michigan, he completed his residency training at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC (WPIC).  His subsequent work as a postdoctoral scholar in the Pitt Department of Psychiatry's T32 Training for Transformative Discovery served as the basis for his current KL2 career development award from University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Scholars Program (funded by NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences).


Minjie Wu, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
The goal of Dr. Wu's research is to develop advanced functional and structural MR imaging techniques and use them to characterize changes associated with brain development and aging, neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders. While obtaining her PhD in Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, she developed MR imaging algorithms that led to more accurate brain image segmentation/normalization. Prior to her faculty appointment by the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Wu performed postdoctoral research at Northwestern University and held academic appointments at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  


Adriane Soehner, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Dr. Soehner's research focuses on identifying functional neural mechanisms through which sleep-circadian disturbances may increase vulnerability to the onset or recurrence of affective disorders in adolescents and young adults. Dr. Soehner graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a PhD in Clinical Science.  She relocated to Pittsburgh in 2013 where she completed the WPIC Clinical Psychology Internship Program. She then conducted research as a postdoctoral scholar in the Clinical Research Training for Psychologists and Translational Research Training in Sleep Medicine T32 programs at the University of Pittsburgh. Since her recruitment to our faculty, she has been examining whether sleep variability may exacerbate pre-existing neurobehavioral vulnerabilities in reward-control processes among adolescents at risk for bipolar disorder with support from an NIMH K01 career development award. 


Joseph Beeney, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Dr. Beeney's research interests include identifying mechanisms in the development of borderline personality disorder, social cognition, and the development of identity and its relationship to emotion regulation. After earning a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Penn State University in 2013, Dr. Beeney moved to Pittsburgh where he completed WPIC?s Clinical Psychology Internship Program and conducted research as a postdoctoral school in the Department of Psychiatry's T32 Research Training Program for Psychologists. As a member of our faculty, Dr. Beeney is studying the neurodevelopment of attachment, social function and borderline personality disorder with support from a K01 award from the NIMH.