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Residents In Action

Dr. Laura Hack is the current Chief Resident of the Emory Psychiatry Residency Research Track. The long term goal of her research is to utilize biomarkers, particularly genetic and epigenetic profiles, to gain insight into the individualized nature of affective and stressor-related disorders and improve prediction of disease development, course, and treatment efficacy. Under the mentorship of Drs. Tanja Jovanovic and Alicia Smith, she is currently involved in projects using data from a large cohort of traumatized individuals, including analysis of phenotypic and genetic profiles. In her PGY-2 year, she completed a 2-month research intensive elective with Dr. Elisabeth Binder at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany profiling epigenetic changes induced by dexamethasone treatment in human hippocampal progenitor cells. Dr. Hack's previous research experience involves the examination of alcohol dependence and related phenotypes using molecular genetic and twin studies. Dr. Hack has presented her work at several national conferences.

Dr. Jungjin Kim is a third year resident in the department. His research interests are in the areas of substance use treatment, integration of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology and neuromodulation. His research experience ranges from work on novel treatment of tardive dyskinesia as well as neuroimaging studies of heroin dependent individuals.  He is currently working on examining the impact of cannabinoids in individuals with heroin dependence. During residency he has been recognized with several awards including the Joe and Hope Skobba Resident Research Award, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry Travel Award and Emory Resident Medical Student Teaching Award. His work has resulted in over 15 papers, poster presentations and book chapters. He plans to pursue an academic career combining outpatient clinical work, research and education.

Dr. Justin Palanci is a PGY-2 in the Emory University General Psychiatry Residency Program. His research background includes working for five years at the Parkinson’s Disease Research Center studying the neuropsychiatric aspects of the disease. His current interests include further study of movement disorders and functional movement disorders as well as novel psychotherapeutic approaches to the treatment of psychosis. He is currently working on the Open Dialogue program at Grady Memorial Hospital, which will begin recruitment in the fall of 2016.

Dr. Uttam Raheja is a Fellow in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Program. His current interests include behavioral immunology, child and adolescent psychiatry, mood and anxiety disorders, and seasonality and chronobiology in psychiatric disorders. He is currently working with Dr. AH Miller on a project examining inflammatory and immune markers in depressed individuals with a history of childhood maltreatment. His work has been presented at multiple national conferences and published in a variety of peer reviewed articles as well as book chapters.  

Dr. Collin Reiff cared for patients with a variety of psychiatric pathology, including Depressive Disorders, Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders, and Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders during his first year of psychiatry residency at Emory University School of Medicine. He was profoundly moved by the suffering that these disorders caused his patients, and recognized the need for new and improved treatments. He started reviewing the psychiatric literature, and found particular interest in the novel psychopharmacologic approaches taken by Roland Griffiths, Michael and Ann Mithoefer, and Charles Grob. He soon found himself reading classic works by Alexander Shulgin, Stanislav Grof, Albert Hoffman and Ralph Metzner. With these works as his foundation, he developed an unwavering interest in the therapeutic potential of phenethylamines and tryptamines: compounds often described as psychedelics, entheogens, or empathogens. Collin started reaching out to Emory’s faculty, and soon found himself being mentored by renowned PTSD researcher, and professor of psychiatry, Barbara Rothbaum. Collin is currently a co-investigator on the Evaluation of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) on Extinction of Fear Learning, and on a data analysis of Ketamine infusions performed at Emory University. Collin believes that psychedelics, if used responsibly, and with proper caution, may revolutionize psychiatry and reshape our understanding of neuroscience, and theory of mind.

Dr. Neguine Rezaii is interested in examining the Whorfian hypothesis, which holds that the structure of a language affects the ways in which its respective speakers conceptualize their world. In her research track project, she is attempting to map semantic structure based on syntactic properties of verbs, and compare the result across different languages. Her past research experience includes psychopharmacological studies of anxiety in animal models in Iran, fMRI study of brain's resting state in autistic patients in Cambridge University and Event Related Potential study of emotion processing in schizophrenic patients in Harvard University. Together these resulted in 9 international poster presentations and 6 published journal articles.

Dr. Gaby Ritfeld started doing research in 2005 as an MD/PhD student at Leiden University in The Netherlands, investigating a prediction model for cortisol responsive genes in the brain. She subsequently went to Johns Hopkins University in 2007 as a visiting medical student to work in the laboratory of Dr. Martin Oudega, where she started investigating bone marrow­ derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a potential treatment for spinal cord injury, using a rat model system. Gaby continued working with Dr. Oudega after completion of medical school in 2009, who had moved his laboratory to the University of Pittsburgh. Her dissertation projects involved characterizing the MSCs, studying MSC survival, and assessing and optimizing MSCs’ therapeutic efficacy. Gaby and her colleagues showed that increasing survival of these cells decreased neuronal tissue loss after spinal cord injury and further enhancement of neuroprotective effects could be achieved through lentiviral transduction of the cells with BDNF. After completion of her dissertation and two years of neurology residency in the Netherlands, she returned to the University of Pittsburgh as a postdoc in 2014, to study the effects of MSCs on vascularization after spinal cord injury and continued this work as a Sr. Research Associate at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami until 2016. Gaby has served as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous journals. She is currently interested to pursue her passion for child psychiatry and child psychiatry research.