People

Carrie Bearden, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator/Associate Professor

Carrie E. Bearden, PhD, is Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology at UCLA. Her research focus is on the identification of underlying genetic and biological vulnerability markers, or endophenotypes, for psychosis and mood disorder. Dr. Bearden has been using converging methodologies to study clinical high-risk samples and highly penetrant ‘genetic subtypes’ of these diseases (e.g, population isolates). She joined the UCLA faculty in 2003, and in 2005 obtained a K23 Career Development Award to obtain specialized training in genetic methodologies. Currently she co-directs the Neurogenetics track for the Neuroscience Interdepartmental PhD program and also serves as Director of the Prodromal Core in the Staglin Music Festival Center for the Assessment and Prevention of Prodromal States (CAPPS).

http://www.semel.ucla.edu/capps

https://www.psych.ucla.edu/faculty/page/cbearden

http://cbdmh.org/carrie-e-bearden/

https://www.iddrc.ucla.edu/iddrc/content/investigator/Bearden,%20Carrie%20E

http://faculty.bri.ucla.edu/institution/personnel?personnel_id=74845

Amy Lin, B.A.

Neuroscience Graduate Student

Amy is a PhD candidate in the UCLA Neuroscience Interdepartmental Graduate Program. After graduating with a BA in Neuroscience from Colorado College, she completed a two-year post-baccalaureate fellowship at the National Institutes of Health with Drs. Jay Giedd and Armin Raznahan at the National Institute of Mental Health and then with Dr. Biyu He at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. In Dr. Bearden’s lab, she is using converging, multi-modal methods in neuropsychological assessments, brain imaging, and genetic approaches to provide novel insights into how 22q11.2 copy number variants disrupt the brain and contribute to disease pathogenesis.

Chris Ching

Neuroscience Graduate Student

Chris is a PhD candidate in the UCLA Neuroscience Graduate Program. After earning a BA in Neuroscience and Philosophy from Pomona College, Chris worked with Dr. Michael Weiner at UCSF’s Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases where he performed multimodal neuroimaging research on a wide range of neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases. Chris currently works with Drs. Paul Thompson and Carrie Bearden on a number of projects through the Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics Through Meta Analysis Consortium (ENIGMA). With Dr. Bearden’s group, Chris is conducting a large-scale meta-analysis to characterize subcortical brain alterations in individuals with 22q11.2 Deletion and Duplication syndrome, the strongest known genetic risk factor for schizophrenia.

Jennifer Forsyth, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Jennifer is a postdoctoral research fellow. She completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at UCLA, with a minor in Neuroscience, in 2016. She is interested in understanding how genetic risk variants interact with brain development to yield the broad phenotype associated with schizophrenia. After completing her clinical psychology internship at the University of Pittsburgh Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, she returned to UCLA to train in bioinformatics methods for characterizing the functional consequences of genetic variants associated with schizophrenia and related disorders under the mentorship of Drs. Carrie Bearden and Giovanni Coppola. She is currently using an integrative functional genomics approach to identify convergent neurodevelopmental processes impacted by polygenic risk for schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders, and to identify specific genes within the 22q11.2 locus likely to be responsible for the increased risk for these disorders associated with 22q11.2 copy number variants (CNVs).

Eva Mennigen, M.D./Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Eva is a postdoctoral fellow in the Bearden Lab. After receiving her doctorate degree from TU Dresden, Germany, in 2015, she obtained a postdoctoral scholarship to work under the supervision of Vince Calhoun at the Mind Research Network, Albuquerque, NM, where she performed research on dynamic functional connectivity in individuals at clinical high-risk for developing psychosis.

Eva joined the Bearden Lab in August 2017. Here she is investigating dynamics of functional connectivity and how they relate to the development of psychosis and other psychopathologies in the Philadelphia Neurodevelopment Cohort, in individuals with NF1, and in individuals with 22q11.2 Deletion and Duplication syndromes.

When Eva is not doing research, she is out riding her bike, hiking, or surfing.

Ariana Vajdi

Staff Imaging Analyst

Ariana graduated from UCLA in 2016 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychobiology and a minor in Iranian Studies. As an undergraduate, she volunteered in Dr. Bearden's lab and now works as a staff imaging analyst, managing structural imaging data across different projects in the lab, and also coordinates an online study of Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Leila Kushan-Wells

22q Study Coordinator

Leila Kushan-Wells is the study coordinator for the UCLA 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Study. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from UCLA and her Master’s degree in Neuroscience and Cognition from the University of Utrecht in Holland. She has worked as part of research teams investigating brain function in various patient populations. Leila is the main contact for participants and their families and she’d be happy to provide you with more information about our study.