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Current Residents

Current Residents


Paul Kim 

Hometown: Seoul, Korea

UC Irvine, BS in Biological Sciences
UC Irvine, MS in Biotechnology
Duke-NUS Medical School, MD

My research interest is in understanding the molecular and cellular changes underlying mental illness using stem cell, animal models and postmortem brain-based approaches. As a postdoc fellow at the NIMH I developed an orthogonal method to validate the findings from nucleus RNA sequencing (snRNA-seq) that was applied on postmortem brain tissue. I utilized a well-established histopathology staining technique – RNAscope In Situ Hybridization (ISH) to substantiate the findings of differential expression of target genes in schizophrenia. Specifically, I established histological evidence of altered gene expression that is specific to schizophrenia in a unique neuronal subtype in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). For my doctoral thesis research I studied the relationship of microRNA-128 (miR-128) and PCM1, both of which are implicated in schizophrenia. I established that miR-128 is an upstream regulator of PCM1 by controlling transcription and translation of PCM1 in both in vitro and in vivo mouse models of neural stem cells (NSCs). Among other methods of delivery, I utilized in utero electroporation to manipulate the expression of miR-128 in NSCs. At UC Irvine, I worked on optimizing a differentiation and isolation protocol for deriving primordial germ cells from human embryonic stem cells.


Jennifer Grant

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Stanford University, BA in Human Biology
Emory University Laney Graduate School, PhD in Health Services Research
Emory University SOM, MD

While at Stanford, Jennifer spent her summers working for the Department of Epidemiology in the Jamaican Ministry of Health. While there, she completed an honors thesis exploring social and structural causes of severe respiratory illness in Jamaican children.  She continued her commitment to researching social and structural factors impact health outcomes through a PhD program in Health services research at Emory. her doctoral dissertation was entitled Trends in HPV Vaccination of US Adolescent Females: How Policies, Education, and Health Care Providers Influence Immunization Rates.  She has also worked on projects at Emory exploring factors influencing HIV/AIDS ambulatory healthcare utilization by Black women in the South and The Health of Safety Net Hospitals following Massachusetts Health Care Reform. Her work has been published in AIDS Care and The International Journal of Health Services and she has presented at annual meetings for the Society for General Internal Medicine and Academy Health.


Karen Giles

Hometown: Boise, ID

College of Idaho, BS in Chemistry
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, MS in Molecular Neuroscience
Medical College of Wisconsin, MD

Karen graduated from the Medical College of Wisconsin, spending over four years engaged in basic, translational, and clinical scientific research. She has a Master’s Degree in molecular neuroscience from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, which she received after graduating from the College of Idaho. Her research has spanned many areas, including a recent project focusing on the impact of stress and socioeconomic conditions on outcomes in cancer patients. She has also worked on a project under an NIH F30 training grant at Wisconsin investigating the role of the transcription factor FoxO1 in human liver development, in addition to work studying the effects of estrogen on the protein tissue factor pathway inhibitor, TFPI. Her work has been published in BMC Cancer, Journal of Neurochemistry and Current Opinion in Hematology. Karen has also spent time working in industry as a biopharmaceutical engineer, developing purification processes for IgM monoclonal antibodies. Outside of her research work, she has participated in the Wisconsin Clinical Continuity Track, working closely with an uninsured patient with chronic medical conditions over the course of two years, and has worked with the underserved throughout medical and graduate school, including leadership roles at the Saturday Clinic for the Uninsured in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is beginning her residency at Emory and hopes to continue her research in the psychoneuroimmunology realm as well as work with the Grady Trauma Project data. Her clinical interests include affective disorders


Benson Ku

Hometown: Queens, NY

Columbia University, BA

Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, MD

I have had a longstanding interest in health services research and preventative medicine since working as a Clinical Analyst at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital. Entering medical school, I coined the term cyclical cardiorenal syndrome and developed clinical prediction rule for predicting risk of patient developing hospital acquired infection. During my psychiatry rotations across different hospitals throughout New York, I noticed the important role that social contextual factors had on treatment and outcomes of persons with serious mental illnesses. I sought to identify neighborhood factors that predict prognosis for individuals with first episode psychosis in Atlanta. Seeking more direct clinical experience with disparity of health outcomes and services among patient population I was studying, I came to Emory University for psychiatry residency. During psychiatry residency, I have been further exploring the impact of contextual factors on service utilization and outcomes of persons with Serious Mental Illnesses.


Michael Lucido, Co-chief Resident

Hometown: Niagara Falls, NY

Florida Institute of Technology, BS in chemistry and BS in psychology
SUNY at Buffalo, PhD in Structural Biology
SUNY at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine, MD 

During my undergraduate studies I had the opportunity to work in the lab of Dr. Alan Brown, where we utilized organic synthesis techniques to generate complex heterocycles for molecular sensing applications. My research interests were further developed as I entered into an MD/PhD program at SUNY at Buffalo. While in graduate school my interests shifted to the macromolecular level where I entered the lab of Dr. Michael Malkowski. My focus at the time centered on the structure-function relationship of the monotopic membrane protein cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and its inhibition by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Recent research had shown that this homodimeric enzyme appeared to function as a heterodimer in solution, with one monomer behaving as the catalyst and the other behaving as an allosteric modifier. Using x-ray crystallography and novel solubilization techniques we were able to add depth to this literature while contributing the first crystal structure of human COX-2 to the protein database (PBD 5F19). In residency I have expanded my interest from macromolecular topics to cellular systems, where I have begun work in the lab of Dr. Zhexing Wen. Based on the well-documented phenomenon of interferon-induced depressive symptoms, significant research has sought to understand the potential link between acute and chronic inflammation on mental states. Utilizing biological samples and iPS technology, we are now able to generate organoids, neurons, and microglia that can be used to more directly investigate the impact of neuroinflammation on neural development and function with particular focus on dopamine synthesis, transport, and regulation and dopaminergic signaling as it relates to depression.


Justin Ellis, Co-chief Resident

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

University of Houston, BA in History, Music Minor
UCSF, PhD in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology
Texas Tech School of Medicine, MD

In grad school I was most interested in investigating basic circuit development in prefrontal cortex and ended up studying postnatal migration of interneurons into the prefrontal cortex using ferrets as an animal model. It had recently been discovered that humans continue to have different types of interneurons migrating into the PFC, especially the medial PFC and orbitofrontal PFC, until about 18 months after birth. The medial PFC and orbitofrontal PFC are both highly implicated in psychiatric disease, and are also the last regions to fully develop in late adolescence. However, no animal models up until that point replicated this postnatal phenomenon seen in humans. We chose ferrets as a possible model, due to the gyrencephalic cortex and extended postnatal development, and studied how closely streams of postnatal interneurons matched up with human. In residency, I've moved from postnatal brain development to late adolescent brain development in order to investigate factors contributing to first episode psychosis. In the laboratory of Dr. Zhexing Wen, we collect biological samples from patients with first episode psychosis, and using iPS technology, turn those samples into organoids, neurons, and microglia. We are operating under the hypothesis and abnormalities in microglia during late adolescence contribute significant to the grey matter loss seen in first episode psychosis patients, the degree to which is positively correlated with severity of symptoms. Along with culturing microglia and organoids, we use different assays such as RNA-seq, 2 photon and light sheet microscopy, iDISCO, electrophysiology, and cortisol activation to conduct experiments. We soon hope to transplant our human microglia into animal models to further study how these cells prune synapses and shape circuits.


David Thylur

Hometown: Denver, CO

Whitman College, BA in Asian Studies
Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, MD 

Dr. David Thylur graduated from the Keck School of Medicine of USC with distinction in research after undergoing a research fellowship to investigate targeted cancer therapy using preclinical experimental models. As he has progressed through his training in psychiatry, he has been drawn to taking care of patients with schizophrenia and is particularly interested in understanding how schizophrenia develops in the brain. His research focuses on understanding the neuroinflammatory and immunogenetic mediators of schizophrenia. He hopes that identifying distinct pathways that influence the pathogenesis of schizophrenia may help explain some of the heterogeneity in symptoms and inform treatments aimed at preventing the development and progression of psychosis.


Helder Araujo

University of Southern California, PhD
Instituto de Ciencias Biomedicas Abel Salazar, MD

Helder Araujo received his MD degree from the Instituto de Ciencias Biomedicas Abel Salazar in his native Portugal and his PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California. His PhD thesis was entitled, “Behavioral and neural correlates of core-self and autobiographical self- processes.” Since receiving his PhD, he has worked as a Postdoc and a Research Fellow at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute investigating brainstem correlates of consciousness and feelings. While in Los Angeles, Helder has taught various undergraduate courses, including human anatomy, experimental research methods, neuroscience, and introduction to psychology, at Pasadena City College, Santa Monica College, Occidental College, UCLA, and the University of Southern California. He has published multiple first authored papers and has presented at various scientific meetings. His hobbies include reading, writing, photography, and acting.