John Kelsoe, M.D. is the Director of the Fellowship. Dr. Kelsoe's longstanding research focus has been the genetics of psychiatric illness, bipolar disorder in particular. Dr. Kelsoe has spent his career conducting translational cellular and human studies directed at identifying the fundamental biological basis of bipolar disorder and other psychiatric disorders. As an MD, he is especially attuned to the challenges of guiding MD’s or MD PhD’s into a successful research career. Dr. Kelsoe supervises many of the research track residents in the clinical care of bipolar patients, and he has had the opportunity to discuss the issues in having a clinical and laboratory research career. Dr. Kelsoe has mentored many MD’s and other trainees to successful careers.

Pei-an(Betty) Shih, Ph.D. Pei-an (Betty) Shih, MPM, PhD is the Co-Director of the Fellowship and Director of Didactic Training. Dr. Shih received her Ph.D. in genetic epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh, and completed postdoctoral training at the UCSD Department of Medicine and Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Shih's research encompasses a synthesis of epidemiology and molecular genetic studies in both clinical and population-based samples. Her expertise is in the genetics and translational science of complex disorders and phenotype such as eating disorders, metabolic syndrome, aging, and psychiatric comorbidities. Dr. Shih has served the Fellowship as a training faculty since 2012.

Meet the Fellows!

Yu-Yu RenDr. Yangsu (Yu-yu) Ren received his doctorate in Human Genetics at the University of Michigan in 2015. Dr. Ren is currently a second year fellow who is mentored by Dr. Abraham Palmer, and has been working on identify genes and loci that are associated with anxiety and depression by performing quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping and gene expression QTL (eQTL) mapping in a panel of 14 near-isogenic C57BL/6 (B6) and C57BL/10 (B10) mice substrains.

Dr. Zachary Cope received his doctorate in Neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2015. Since joining the laboratory of Dr. Jared Young at UCSD, Dr. Cope has been investigating neural and genetic mechanisms underlying divergent affective states of bipolar disorder. Although mechanisms of each affective extreme of BD, depression and mania, are comparatively well understood, identifying the substrates mediating transitions between these states has remained elusive. This gap in our understanding remains a barrier to wellness in individuals for whom traditional treatment options such as lithium or anti-consultants are not well tolerated. Recent evidence suggests that seasonal variation in light availability may play a direction specific role in the induction of these divergent affective states. In rodents, extremes in light availability induce cell-autonomous neurotransmitter plasticity in mature neurons of the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus that is associated with increased depression- or mania-relevant behaviors. Dr. Cope’s project aims to exert cell-specific excitatory and inhibitory control on these neurons using cutting edge designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) to directly test this putative affective switch in a multidimensional cognitive behavioral battery. By doing so, his project seeks to determine the potential causal role of these neurons in the bidirectional induction of depressive- or mania-like behaviors.

Dr. Vipavee Niemsiri is a pediatric endocrinologist from Thailand. She earned a Master of Public Health and a PhD in Human Genetics from University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Niemsiri's PhD dissertation focused on genetic association studies of candidate genes in lipid metabolism. For her T32 training. Dr. Niemsiri is interested in learning psychiatric genetics and genetic methodologies for psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Adam D. McPherson has a joint appointment in Psychiatry with Dr. Davide Dulcis and Neurosciences with Dr. Tom Hnasko. His current research aims at determining the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neurotransmitter respecification within the adult reward circuitry, and its relationship to behavior. Dr. McPherson is utilizing cutting-edge imaging, pharmacogenetic, and optogenetic approaches to determine how neural activity within the reward circuitry alters neurotransmitter expression. This research may provide new insights for treatment of addiction and other neuropsychiatric diseases.

Fellowship Advisory Committee

The fellowship advisory committee consists of:

  • John R. Kelsoe, M.D. Program Director and Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD Department of Psychiatry
  • Pei-an (Betty) Shih, Ph.D. Director of Didactic Training, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD Dept of Psychiatry
  • Mark A. Schuckit, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD Department of Psychiatry
  • Walter Kaye, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD Department of Psychiatry
  • Susan Tapert, Ph.D. Professor

    of Psychiatry, UCSD Department of Psychiatry

  • Neal Swerdlow, M.D., Ph.D. Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD, Department of Psychiatry
  • Jonathon Sebat, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD, Department of Psychiatry
  • Murray Stein, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD, Department of Psychiatry
  • Jay Giedd, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD, Department of Psychiatry