Faculty

Dr. Roberson-Nay Receives $275K NIMH R21 Funded Research Grant

Roxann Roberson-Nay, Ph.D. received a two year, $275K NIMH R21 grant for her “Quantification and Characterization of Bulk and L1CAM-Enriched Exosomal MicroRNA Cargo in Healthy Young People” research study.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane-bound sacs that transport bioactive materials like proteins, DNA, and RNA. EVs are released from all (or nearly all) tissues into the bloodstream as a normal part of physiology. Because EVs easily cross the blood-brain-barrier, analyzing cell surface markers and biological cargo may ...

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Cracking the code for resilience

A VCU School of Medicine researcher is exploring the genetic underpinnings of trauma responses in the hope of improving mental health care.

Given current events ranging from the ongoing pandemic to giant wildfires and powerful hurricanes, it’s not surprising that many people find their emotional reserves are depleted. Statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation show that about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive ...

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How virtual reality may help explore the role of fear in youth at risk for violence and crime

A VCU professor has received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study conduct disorder and callous-unemotional traits using VR technology.

Conduct disorder — often characterized by aggression, theft, vandalism, violations of rules and lying — is one of the most prevalent and debilitating psychiatric disorders that emerges during childhood and adolescence.

There is a subgroup of those with conduct disorder who are more likely to engage in chronic violence ...

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Featured Faculty: Ruth Brown, Ph.D.

Ruth Brown, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Brown studies psychometric properties and measure development in patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Additionally, she has a background in measurement of treatment processes and outcomes of psychosocial treatments. She first became involved in this field while completing the clinical portion of her Ph.D. at a residential ...

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Dr. Roberson-Nay accepts assistant dean appointment for Graduate Recruitment and Admissions

Roxann Roberson-Nay, Ph.D. has accepted the appointment as assistant dean for Graduate Recruitment and Admissions. In this capacity, Dr. Roberson-Nay will coordinate recruitment efforts for prospective Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal students, serve as the chair of the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal Admissions Committee, oversee the first-year curriculum and help identify research mentors for Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal students during their first year of study.

While Dr. Roberson-Nay is new this position, she has been on faculty ...

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Featured Faculty: Timothy York, Ph.D.

Timothy York, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Human and Molecular Genetics and a faculty member of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University. A self-proclaimed “poster child” for VIPBG and the School of Medicine as a whole, Dr. York obtained his Ph.D. in human genetics at VCU followed by postdoctoral positions at the Massey Cancer Center and the Department of Psychiatry before being awarded a ...

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Featured Faculty: Katie Bountress, Ph.D.

Katie Bountress, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at VCU. Her interests in molecular and behavioral genetics are expanding daily, as her primary discipline is psychology. She recalls learning in a class while a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University that there is not a lot known about the underlying risk factors for peer deviance and substance use. Thus, she taught herself this literature ...

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Research Discovers Three New Genetic Risk Markers of Depression

Hinxton, — A study published today (March 2) in the American Journal of Psychiatry details the discovery of three additional genetic risk markers for depression, building on the discovery of two genetic risk factors in 2015.

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University, the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and Wellcome Sanger Institute have found that the contribution of genetic variations to depression may differ between people who have experienced serious adversities in their life and those who haven’t. By carrying ...

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Major mental illnesses unexpectedly share brain gene activity, raising hope for better diagnostics and therapies

Mental illness affects one in six U.S. adults, but scientists’ sense of the underlying biology of most psychiatric disorders remains nebulous. That’s frustrating for physicians treating the diseases, who must also make diagnoses based on symptoms that may only appear sporadically. No laboratory blood test or brain scan can yet distinguish whether someone has depression or bipolar disorder, for example.

Now, however, a large-scale analysis of postmortem brains is revealing distinctive molecular traces in people with mental illness. ...

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Featured Faculty: B. Todd Webb, Ph.D.

Dr. B. Todd Webb, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University. His interest in behavioral genetics developed gradually over his academic career. He majored in biology at VCU but always had an interest in genetics. Over time, he became passionate about how complex systems work and later obtained his Ph.D. in human genetics. This allowed him to hone his skills ...

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