UCSF Psychiatry and Behavioral Services Trainee Research Award

Call for 2024 awards cycle applications

This is an announcement for the 11th annual call for applications from trainees and their research mentors for the UCSF Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Trainee Research Award. This highly prestigious and selective honor comes with significant recognition, along with a departmental award.

Four senior trainees (e.g., residents, child psychiatry fellows, psychology trainees, postdoctoral fellows) in their last year of training will be selected through a competitive process to present their work done while at UCSF during the latter part of the 2023–2024 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds series. The selected trainees and their research mentors will work as a team to prepare the presentations.


This program is intended to help launch the academic careers of our trainees by annually showcasing the original research of four select advanced trainees in a high visibility forum, the DPBS Grand Rounds. The department will support the academic and professional development of these trainees through a competitive application process and provide guidance on presentation preparation and delivering a research presentation to a large audience. The selected trainees will receive formal department recognition.


  • DPBS Grand Rounds on March 5 and April 2, 2024, are reserved for trainee presentations. The selected trainees and their mentors are expected to be available on these dates.
  • Each of these two special grand rounds sessions will feature presentations from two of the selected trainees. The presentation format is 20 minutes of prepared presentation, followed by 10 minutes of questions and discussion.
  • Priority will be given for advanced department trainees in their final year of training, such as PGY-4s, CAP-2s, other MD fellows, psychology postdoctoral fellows, and research fellows from any of the programs and research groups in the department.
  • Two of the awards are intended for PGY-4 residents, including but not limited to those in the Research Resident Training Program (RRTP), and two more for research fellows (including all postdoctoral fellows).

Application and selection process

The application from the trainee and the trainee’s primary research mentor is due by 5:00 p.m. PST on January 19, 2024. Applications should include an abstract of the presentation and the trainee’s CV or NIH biosketch (see application template). This call is open to a broad range of research and scholarship, including original research in basic, translational, clinical, and health services sciences.

Download the 2024 application

Selection criteria will include:

  • Academic accomplishment
  • Original contribution to the literature
  • Significance of innovation to the field
  • Trainee contribution to the research
  • Relevance to the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Priority to those in their last year of training

The selection committee is composed of faculty members representing the DPBS Grand Rounds Committee, as well as the department's basic science research, clinical and translational research, and education communities. Announcement of winners will be made in February 2024.

Presentation skills and assessment

Research mentors who are DPBS faculty are expected to have a primary role in guiding trainees in development of the presentation. Upon request, awardees will be paired with faculty for coaching on presentation skills and will receive feedback from a faculty member using an observation feedback tool developed by the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators as a framework.

Department recognition

Award recipients and their mentors will be invited to a private event with the department chair. Awardees will be acknowledged formally, publicly, and permanently at the department level, as this is intended to be a highly prestigious and selective award.

Application submission

Please submit the completed application to Gigi Lopez at [email protected] by 5:00 p.m. PST on Friday, January 19, 2024. Please note that the application must be signed by both trainee applicant and primary research mentor, indicating the research mentor’s willingness to work closely with the trainee in preparing the presentation.

Previous recipients


  • Joshua Cohen, MD, PhD — "Amygdala-Hippocampus Coherence is a Biomarker of Predominant Symptom Sets in Patients With Depression" (mentor: Andrew Krystal, MD, MS)
  • Caroline Escoubas, MD, PhD — "Defining the Physiological Role of a Type I Interferon-Responsive Microglial Subset in Cortical Development" (mentor: Anna Victoria Molofsky, PhD)
  • Jessica Hua, PhD — "Mismatch Negativity and Theta Oscillations Evoked by Auditory Deviance in Early Schizophrenia" (mentor: Daniel Mathalon, PhD, MD)
  • Frances Xia, PhD — "Decoding Stress Susceptibility From Activity in Amygdala-Ventral Hippocampal Networks" (mentor: Mazen Kheirbek, PhD)


  • Alison Hwong, MD, PhD — "Smoking Cessation Treatment for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness" (mentor: Christina Mangurian, MD, MAS)
  • Kristen Nishimi, PhD, MPH — "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Influence on Behaviors and Infectious Disease Outcomes" (mentor: Aoife O'Donovan, PhD)
  • Kristen Rudd, PhD — "Applying an RDoC Perspective to the Developmental Consequences of Early Life Stress on Risk for Psychopathology" (mentors: Nicki Bush, PhD, and Danielle Roubinov, PhD)
  • Shuyu Wang, MD, PhD — "An Unbiased, Automated Approach for Measuring Naturalistic Behaviors Between Interacting Prairie Voles" (mentor: Devanand Manoli, MD, PhD)


  • Jeremy Biane, PhD — "Differential Encoding of Emotional Memory Across the Dorsal/Ventral Axis of the Hippocampus" (mentor: Mazen Kheirbek, PhD)
  • Elissa Hamlat, PhD — "Early Life Adversity, Pubertal Timing, and Epigenetic Age Acceleration" (mentor: Elissa Epel, PhD)
  • David Kastner, MD, PhD — "Respecting the Complexity of Animal Behavior to Extract Multicomponent Features That Govern Individual Performance" (mentor: Loren Frank, PhD)
  • Ryan Rampersaud, MD, PhD — "Microbes and Mood: Elucidating Mechanisms to Gut Microbiota-Host Crosstalk in Major Depressive Disorder" (mentors: Synthia Mellon, PhD, and Owen Wolkowitz, MD)


  • Samantha Abram, PhD — Reward Processing Electrophysiology in Schizophrenia: Effects of Age and Illness Phase (mentor: Susanna Fryer, PhD)
  • Kirsten Bobrow, MBChB, DPhil — Established and Emerging Modifiable Risk Factors for Dementia in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: South Africa as an Example (mentor: Kristine Yaffe, MD)
  • Ali Mohebi, PhD — Dissociable Dopamine Dynamics for Learning and Motivation (mentor: Joshua Berke, PhD)
  • Helen Willsey, PhD — Understanding Autism Pathobiology Using Frogs (mentor: Matthew State, MD, PhD)


  • Brian Anderson, MD, MSc — Psilocybin-Assisted Group Therapy for Demoralization in Older Long-Term AIDS Survivors (mentor: Joshua Woolley, MD, PhD)
  • Christopher M. Bartley, MD, PhD — Identification of Neurotropic Autoantibodies in Humans With Inflammatory and Non-Inflammatory Behavioral and Neuropsychiatric Syndromes (mentor: Samuel Pleasure, MD, PhD)
  • Kristen Berendzen, MD, PhD — Defining the Genetic, Molecular, and Neural Circuit Basis of a Social Stress Response (mentor: Devanand Manoli, MD, PhD)
  • Lauren Whitehurst, PhD — The Impact of Psychostimulants on Sleep-Dependent Memory in Healthy Adults (mentors: Wendy Berry Mendes, PhD, and Aric Prather, PhD)


  • Matthew Hirschtritt, MD, MPH — Sexual Minority, Justice-Involved Youth: A Hidden Population in Need of Integrated Mental Health, Substance Use, and Sexual Health Services (mentor: Marina Tolou-Shams, PhD)
  • Jacob Izenberg, MD — Is Gentrification Bad for Your Health? Evidence from California (mentor: Irene Yen, PhD, MPH)
  • Yue Leng, PhD, MPhil — Napping, Sleep, and Neurodegenerative Diseases: An Epidemiologic Perspective (mentor: Kristine Yaffe, MD)
  • Donna Werling, PhD — Understanding the Basis of Sex Bias in Autism Through the Investigation of Sex-Differential Gene Expression in the Brain (mentor: Stephan Sanders, PhD)


  • Kaitlin Casaletto, PhD — Synaptic Function is Uniquely Associated with Delayed Recall Performance in Aging Adults (mentor: Joel Kramer, PsyD)
  • Michael Jacob, MD, PhD — Linking Time and Space to Identify Neural Mechanisms of Semantic Processing Impairments in Schizophrenia: An ERP-fMRI "Fusion" Study (mentors: Daniel Mathalon, PhD, MD, and Judith Ford, PhD)
  • Jin Kim, PhD — Examining the Role of Food Insecurity in Cigarette Use and Smoking Cessation (mentor: Janice Tsoh, PhD)
  • Erika Yeh, PhD — Patient-Derived iPSCs Show Neuron-Type Specific Phenotypes Relevant to Neurodevelopmental and Psychiatric Disease (mentor: Lauren Weiss, PhD)


  • Aaron Besterman, MD — Characterizing Sex-Specific Effects of Common Genetic Variants in Neuropsychiatric Disorders: A Proof-of-Concept Study Using Height (mentor: Noah Zaitlen, PhD)
  • Claire Hebenstreit, PhD — Predictors of Women’s Utilization of Treatment for PTSD: An Examination of PTSD Symptom Presentation (mentor: Shira Maguen, PhD)
  • Angela Narayan, PhD — Positive Childhood Memories as Protective Factors Against Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in High-Risk Mothers with Maltreatment Histories (mentor: Alicia Lieberman, PhD)
  • Scott Wilke, MD, PhD — Identifying Prefrontal Cortex Microcircuit Disruptions Underlying Psychiatric Disorders (mentor: Vikaas Sohal, MD, PhD)


  • Bibhav Acharya, MD — The Role of Continued Medical Education (CME) in Addressing Grand Challenges of Global Mental Health: Results from a Pilot Study in Rural Nepal (mentor: Erick Hung, MD)
  • Melissa Hagan, PhD, MPH — Symptoms of Dissociation in a High-Risk Sample of Young Children Exposed to Interpersonal Trauma: Prevalence, Correlates and Contributors (mentor: Alicia Lieberman, PhD)
  • Allison Kaup, PhD — Traumatic Brain Injury and Risk of Dementia: A Novel Video Game to Assess and Improve Cognition in Older Adults with TBI (mentor: Kristine Yaffe, MD)
  • Christopher Stauffer, MD — The Effects of Chronic Oxytocin in Cocaine and Opioid-Dependent Patients Receiving Methadone Maintenance (mentor: Joshua Woolley, MD, PhD)


  • Stephen Allison, MD — Early Experience with Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment of OCD and Tourette Syndrome at UCSF (mentor: Carol Mathews, MD)
  • James Henry, MD — Smartphone-based Mindfulness Training for Chronic Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial (mentor: Ida Sim, MD, PhD)
  • Tobias Marton, MD, PhD — Elucidating the Neural Circuitry of “Top-Down” Sensory Processing Deficits in Schizophrenia Using a Translational Mouse Model (mentor: Vikaas Sohal, MD, PhD)
  • Keely Muscatell, PhD — Neural Predictors of Inflammatory Responses to Social Stress: Implications for Mental Health (mentor: Wendy Berry Mendes, PhD)
  • Dhakshin Ramanathan, MD, PhD — Dysfunction in Large-Scale Patterns of Anti-Correlated Activity Underlies Negative Symptoms in Schizophrenia (mentor: Daniel Mathalon, MD, PhD)
  • Lisa Talbot, PhD — Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial (mentor: Thomas Neylan, MD)