Featured Postdoc: Luis Araujo

Luis Fernando Silva Castro de Araujo, Ph.D. is a psychiatrist and post-doctoral researcher working in the lab of Dr. Michael Neale here at VIPBG. Originally from Brazil, Luis attended medical school in Bahia, after which he moved to São Paulo to complete his residencies in psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry. Luis later earned a Master’s degree in Psychiatry from the State University of Campinas and a PhD in Psychiatry from the University of Melbourne.  Despite his extensive educational and clinical background, he still felt like there was more to learn about the disorders he was studying. “Psychiatric disorders are highly heritable. I couldn’t truly understand these phenomena without including some genetic information or tools in my work. I came here to improve my understanding of genetics – to develop a more complete picture of what mental disorders really are.” Luis began attending the annual International Statistical Genetics (ISG) workshop at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he met Dr. Neale and other VIPBG faculty who shared his passion and curiosity for psychiatric genetics.

Since joining the Neale lab, Luis has had a number of opportunities to bolster his understanding of psychiatric genetics. Using data from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study, he’s been applying causal inference methodologies to draw links between genetic variants and ADHD and other adolescent psychiatric phenotypes. Luis has also discovered an unexpected (to him) talent for statistical programming, and he has made numerous contributions to the OpenMx package, a suite of tools for multivariate statistical modeling. “It was quite surprising. You know, I’m a medical doctor with no previous programming experience…now people come to me to discuss the details of the [OpenMx] package.”  Luis’s commitment to his work hasn’t gone unnoticed by his colleagues at VIPBG, either, and in 2023 he was awarded the Lindon J. Eaves Award for Excellence in Post-doctoral Research. More recently, Luis just attended the 2024 ISG workshop in Boulder as a first-time faculty member, where he taught a lecture on causal inference methodologies that he’s been developing in conjunction with other VIPBG researchers. He plans to expand his ongoing research into childhood and adolescent psychiatric disorders in the coming years.

Luis lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife Jacyra and their 7-year-old daughter, and he says that they’ve all enjoyed their time in Richmond. Luis’s wife, Dr. Jacyra Azevedo Paiva de Araujo, for her part, is currently conducting her own post-doctoral work in the VCU School of Social Work. If he’s not on-site working at VIPBG, you can probably find Luis getting some exercise running in the parks around the city. Many thanks to Luis for taking some time out for this article, and we all wish him the best in his research.


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