Mood Disorders & Cognition Research
Researchers in the Mood Disorders and Cognition (MDC) research program in NYU Langone’s Department of Psychiatry investigate the neurobiology of mood and cognition disorders, including major depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, and novel treatments for these conditions, including pharmacological agents and brain stimulation strategies.
The program is led by Dan Iosifescu, MD, MSc. His past work includes the clinical and mechanistic study of novel, rapidly acting treatments for mood disorders, such as ketamine, minocycline, low field magnetic stimulation, and the recognition and treatment of cognitive deficits associated with mood disorders. His current studies focus on transcranial photobiomodulation—which is being tested, separately, in subjects with major depression and in those with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease—and the comparison of several treatments for bipolar depression.
In addition to serving as principal investigator in several large, multicenter trials of new therapies in major depression, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Iosifescu has led key studies using functional MRI (fMRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy, 18F-MK6240 PET, and quantitative electroencephalography to investigate associated neurobehavioral substrates.
Descriptions of our current clinical trials are below.
Transcranial Near-Infrared Radiation and Cerebral Blood Flow in Depression, R33 (TRIADE-R33)
Our researchers are determining if application of near-infrared energy to the forehead can change depressive symptoms and the blood flow in the brains of people with depression, by comparing near-infrared laser exposure with a placebo or sham procedure. For more information about this trial, including eligibility requirements, please contact Anthony Song, assistant research scientist, at Xiaotong.Song@NYULangone.org, or Anna Peterson, research data associate, at Anna.Peterson@NYULangone.org. View full clinical trial information.
Transcranial Photobiomodulation for Alzheimer’s Disease (TRAP-AD)
Our researchers are testing the efficacy and safety of 24 sessions of transcranial photobiomodulation (t-PBM) with near-infrared light, delivered over eight weeks and compared to sham, in improving clinical symptoms of mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, we explore the brain mechanisms of t-PBM with advanced neuroimaging. For more information about this trial, including eligibility requirements, please contact Anthony Song at Xiaotong.Song@NYULangone.org or Anna Peterson at Anna.Peterson@NYULangone.org. View full clinical trial information.
A Pilot Phase II Open-Label, Single-Center Study of Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter-2 Inhibitor Empagliflozin in Major Depressive Disorder (SGLT2-MDD)
Led by David T. Liebers, MD, MPil, MPP, our researchers are testing the antidepressant effects of empagliflozin, the generic form of Jardiance, a medication commonly prescribed for Type 2 diabetes, in patients with major depressive disorder. We also explore the effects that empagliflozin has on metabolic markers, ketogenesis, and gut microbiome. For more information about this trial, including eligibility requirements, please contact Anthony Song at Xiaotong.Song@NYULangone.org or Anna Peterson at Anna.Peterson@NYULangone.org. View full clinical trial information.
A Single-Center Observational Study of Reference Point Setting in Major Depressive Disorder (RESET-MDD)
Led by Paul W. Glimcher, PhD, this study seeks to investigate how affective mood can have negative effects on people’s decision-making processes and how this can perpetuate major depressive disorder. Our researchers use behavioral decision-making paradigms to elucidate these mechanisms. For more information about this trial, including eligibility requirements, please contact Anthony Song at Xiaotong.Song@NYULangone.org or Anna Peterson at Anna.Peterson@NYULangone.org.
Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial for Bipolar Depression: SMART-BD
As a part of a multicentered clinical trial led by Andrew Nierenberg, MD, and funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), our researchers will address how to best treat people with bipolar disorder who are experiencing major depressive episodes. In this trial, we aim to compare the safety and effectiveness of three U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved medications for the treatment of bipolar depression—cariprazine, lurasidone, and quetiapine—with a commonly used antipsychotic and antidepressant combination, namely aripiprazole and escitalopram. For more information about this trial, including eligibility requirements, please contact Anthony Song at Xiaotong.Song@NYULangone.org or Anna Peterson at Anna.Peterson@NYULangone.org. View full clinical trial information.
Assessment of Glutamate Neurotransmission, Brain Bioenergetics, and Neuroinflammation in Major Depressive Disorder Using TSPO PET and MRI
This study, led by Steven H. Baete, PhD, uses advanced neuroimaging techniques to assess neuroinflammation in patients with major depressive disorder and healthy volunteers. For more information about this trial, including eligibility requirements, please contact Anthony Song at Xiaotong.Song@NYULangone.org or Anna Peterson at Anna.Peterson@NYULangone.org. View full clinical trial information.
We receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), not-for-profit research organizations, and private industry.
Grants we have received from the NIH include the following:
- Transcranial Near-Infrared Radiation and Cerebral Blood Flow in Depression (TRIADE; NIH, R61-R33 MH122647)
- Transcranial Photobiomodulation for Alzheimer's Disease (TRAP-AD; NIH-NIA, R01 AG068248)
Grants from the Alzheimer’s Association include the following:
- Photobiomodulation for Early Stage Alzheimer's Disease (PhESAD)
Grants from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) include the following:
- Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial for Bipolar Depression (SMART-BD)
- Augmentation versus Switch: Comparative Effectiveness Research Trial for Antidepressant Incomplete and Non-responders with Treatment Resistant Depression (ASCERTAIN-TRD) (Grant Completed)
Dr. Iosifescu advises NYU Grossman School of Medicine psychiatry residents who are interested in conducting research on mood disorders.
Research Faculty and Staff
Dan Iosifescu, MD, MSc
Mood Disorders and Cognition Research Program, Director
Ricardo M. Osorio Suarez, MD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Kathy F. Yates, PhD
Research Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Senior Neuropsychologist
David T. Liebers, MD, MPil, MPP
Chief Resident, Psychiatry PGY-4
David is chief resident and part of the research career development pathway in the psychiatry residency program at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. His focus is clinical research on novel therapeutics for psychiatric conditions that target abnormal brain bioenergetic metabolism and treatments that could potentially be disease modifying. He earned an MD and MPP from Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School where his research focused on the application of polygenic risk scores to illness course in mood disorders. He is a graduate of the University of Rochester, and read history and philosophy of science for an MPhil at the University of Cambridge on a Gates Scholarship.
Simon Khuvis, MD, PhD
Resident, Psychiatry PGY-4
Simon received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Cooper Union and his MD and PhD from the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. In graduate school, he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Ashesh Mehta, studying the single-unit correlates of visual memory and epilepsy biomarkers in patients undergoing intracranial EEG monitoring. He is currently pursuing a research track residency at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, with a specialization in psychiatry. His research interests include novel devices for the treatment of cognitive disorders.
Naomi L. Gaggi, PhD
Naomi is a postdoctoral research fellow who earned her PhD in neuroscience in 2022. She is currently working on identifying profiles of cerebral metabolism in multiple clinical populations, including Alzheimer’s disease and individuals with sleep disorders. She is using multimodal neuroimaging and understanding how transcranial photobiomodulation can enhance blood flow and metabolism in these populations. She is also a T32 fellow in sleep science (T32HL160511) under the guidance of Dr. Osorio Suarez and Dr. Iosifescu.
Anthony (Xiaotong) Song, MA
Assistant Research Scientist
Anthony earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Skidmore College in 2019 and his master’s degree in psychology from NYU in 2021. His personal, academic, and research experiences have led to a deep interest in pathological aging and mood disorders, and he is interested in pursuing a doctorate to advance research in these fields. He is currently a junior scholar in NYU Langone’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Research Education Component Scholars Program. Anthony conducts research trials and studies in the Mood Disorders and Cognition Research Program.
Anna L. Peterson, MA
Research Data Associate
Anna earned her master’s degree in psychology from NYU in 2022. She aspires to earn a doctorate in neuroscience, and her research interests include the relationship between mood and cognition, psychedelic therapies, and temporal lobe seizure activity. Anna conducts research trials and studies in the Mood Disorders and Cognition Research Program.
Denisha Arias, BA
Research Data Associate
Denisha graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. During her academic journey, she developed an interest in cognition and neuropsychological testing. Currently, she is pursuing her master’s degree at NYU and aspires to attain her PhD in clinical psychology. Denisha works on the TRAP-AD and TRIADE-R33 studies in the MDC lab.
Jacqueline Hilbert, BS
Research Data Associate
Jacqueline earned her bachelor’s degree in legal studies from St. John’s University in 2022. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at St. John’s University. Jacqueline spends a majority of her time working on the TRAP-AD and TRIADE-R33 studies and aspires to build a career in the field of clinical psychology.
Program Alumni and Current Placement
Yoonju Cho, MD, PhD
Clinical Psychiatry Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital
Ram Sharma, MD
Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University
Ellen Krotow, RN
Staff Nurse, NYU Langone Acute Neuroscience Unit
Arwa Adib, BA
PhD Student, University of Oregon Department of Psychology
Zanetta Kovbasyuk, MS
Assistant Research Scientist, NYU Langone’s Department of Neurology
Yumiko Wiranto, MA
PhD Student, University of Kansas Department of Psychology
Dongni Yan, MA
Associate Research Coordinator, NYU Langone’s Neuroscience Institute
Weiqi (Vicky) Xu, MA
Research Coordinator, Chinese Academy of Sciences-Institute of Neuroscience, People’s Republic of China
Hanna Lissinna, MA
Graduate Research Assistant, NYU Silver School of Social Work
For more information about joining our research team, please contact Dr. Iosifescu at Dan.Iosifescu@NYULangone.org.
We publish in peer-reviewed academic journals. A selection of recent work is below.
Protocol Report on the Transcranial Photobiomodulation for Alzheimer"™s Disease (TRAP-AD) Study
Healthcare (Basel). 2023 Jul 01; 11:?-?
Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter-2 Inhibitors in Depression
Harvard review of psychiatry. 2023 Jul-Aug 01; 31:214-221
Grant Report on the Transcranial near Infrared Radiation and Cerebral Blood Flow in Depression (TRIADE) Study
Photonics. 2023 Jan 01; 10:?-?
Very Low-Level Transcranial Photobiomodulation for Major Depressive Disorder: The ELATED-3 Multicenter, Randomized, Sham-Controlled Trial
Journal of clinical psychiatry. 2022 Aug 08; 83:
Pharmacogenomic Testing for Next-Step Antidepressant Selection: Still a Work in Progress [Comment]
JAMA. 2022 07 12; 328:146-148
Efficacy and Safety of AXS-05 (Dextromethorphan-Bupropion) in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder: A Phase 3 Randomized Clinical Trial (GEMINI)
Journal of clinical psychiatry. 2022 May 30; 83: