Research Track Alumni


"I have always had a strong interest in biomedical research starting from my undergraduate years.  My career path has greatly benefited from terrific mentorship.

I was recruited into the research track of the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at UCLA.  This gave me the time and opportunity to develop research projects and integrate research with clinical training in psychiatry.  As a result, I was able to develop specific interests informed by my clinical training.  From my graduate research, I had an interest in brain changes associated with aging.  In addition, I have a long-standing interest in working with the elderly since my days doing volunteer work at a senior center in junior high school.  Combining these long-standing interests, I explored research opportunities in the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry.  I also felt that because of the confluence of medical and psychiatric problems in the elderly, understanding the biological basis of mental illness in older populations could inform our knowledge of psychiatric problems in all populations.  In conjunction with my research activities during residency, I was awarded a number of travel awards which allowed me an amazing opportunity to interact with the leaders in the field and it stimulated my interest in pursuing a career in academic psychiatry.  Through the experience obtained by doing research during residency, I was able to nourish and develop my current interests in using neuroimaging techniques to study depression in the context of aging and diabetes in order to better understand to pathophysiology of major depression as a whole."

-Olu Ajilore, MD, PhD

“During medical school I worked in a psychiatry laboratory, and found that the intellectual challenges and rewards of uncovering the fundamental mechanisms that define who we are exceeded any other intellectual endeavor I had experienced. It was for this reason that I selected a residency based on whether it had a dedicated research track. The research track at UIC provided me with a great deal of flexibility in terms of scheduling, incredible mentorship, funds for lab supplies, conference travel expenses, and the opportunity to succeed as a physician researcher. Further, the intensive research training I received instilled in me a rigorousness of thought that has served to enhance my skills both as an investigator and as a clinician. Now as an assistant professor at UIC, I believe that the research track provided me with the skills and confidence to excel as a researcher and a psychiatrist.”


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-David P. Gavin, MD

“My training has allowed me to integrate my passion for studying the brain with the desire to impact individuals by early intervention and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. My doctoral research investigated mechanisms by which sex differences in hormonal, chemosensory signals modulated physiology, brain function and emotional states. In residency, a pivotal experience occurred for me with a patient who has congenital panhypopituitary syndrome. He presented with severe obsessive compulsive disorder after receiving his first dose of exogenous testosterone to trigger puberty. This motivated my interest to examine whether children have an increased risk for psychopathology when they have perturbations in development and their neurohormonal systems. Questions about early brain development led me to pursue a three-year integrated, research and clinical fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In the Developmental Disorders Clinic at UIC, I was struck by the heterogeneity in severity of disorders like autism, as well as variance between sexes and across environmental contexts. My PhD training taught me to value logical, linear approaches to studying basic processes by controlling as many variables as possible, to generate hypothesis driven models, and to think critically. Clinical experiences have taught me about the value of using a broad and highly developed set of approaches to assess and treat patients by thinking creatively. The vast complexities and variabilities of childhood developmental disorders are due to a range of underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. My research track experience in child psychiatry was a wonderful opportunity for me to formulate clinically relevant questions, learn new scientific methods, generate preliminary data, and begin to integrate interdisciplinary approaches to studying a complex, heterogeneous developmental disorder like autism.”


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--Suma Jacob, MD, PhD


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