Three New Faculty for 2018

Anita E. Autry, PhD

Dr. Autry will join the Einstein faculty as Assistant Professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience in March 2018. Dr. Autry studies neural circuits governing complex behaviors, particularly parenting. She received her Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas under the mentorship of Dr. Lisa Monteggia. Her doctoral dissertation research examined the role of an important growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), in Major Depressive Disorder and antidepressant treatments. Notably, her studies focused on understanding the mechanism of the novel antidepressant ketamine, linking its blockage of glutamate receptors to enhancement of BDNF expression via de-suppression of protein synthesis in the hippocampus. She went on to conduct her postdoctoral research on neural circuits governing parenting and infant-directed aggression at Harvard University with Dr. Catherine Dulac. Her work has contributed to the understanding of how galanin-expressing neurons in the medial preoptic area facilitate parenting. In addition, she has discovered that the urocortin-3 expressing neurons of the perifornical area of the hypothalamus mediate infant-directed aggression.

Dr. Autry’s research at Einstein will be focused on uncovering and dissecting neural circuits that control social behaviors and understanding how these circuits are regulated under physiological and pathological conditions. The research questions center around (1) how stress affects the function of circuits controlling parental behaviors (2) how circuits that mediate stress responses interact over time and (3) how stress circuits impact feeding behavior and body composition, particularly in lactating females.

 
 

Renata Batista-Brito, PhD

Dr. Batista-Brito will join the Einstein faculty with joint appointments as Assistant Professor in the departments of Neuroscience and Genetics in February, 2018. Her work focuses on how inhibition shapes cortical activity in health and disease. She obtained her PhD degree with honors from New York University where she was mentored by Dr. Gordon Fishell. In her thesis work she investigated the role of genetic factors in interneuron development in health and disease. To unite molecular genetic analysis with physiological mechanisms, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Jessica Cardin at Yale University for her postdoctoral training. During her post-doc Dr. Batista-Brito investigated how populations of neurons encode visual information, opening a new perspective on the developmental functions of interneurons and the importance of interneuron diversity in psychiatric diseases.

Dr. Batista-Brito’s research at Einstein will be supported in part by a prestigious SFARI Bridge to Independence Award from the Simons Foundation. She plans to combine genetics and systems approaches to investigate how postnatal developmental of inhibition shapes sensory representation in the mature brain, and how this process is altered in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.

 
 

Lucas L. Sjulson, MD, PhD

Dr. Sjulson will join the Einstein faculty with joint appointments as Assistant Professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience in March, 2018. He is both an accomplished neuroscientist and a board-certified psychiatrist. He obtained his MD and PhD degrees from the Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan-Kettering Tri-Institutional MD/PhD program, where he was mentored by Dr. Gero Miesenböck. In his thesis work, he developed novel genetically encoded voltage indicators for use with high speed two photon imaging. After his residency in adult psychiatry at NYU, he completed postdoctoral work with Drs. Gordon Fishell and György Buzsáki, in which he studied how interactions between hippocampus and nucleus accumbens contribute to drug addiction.

Dr. Sjulson’s basic science research at Einstein will be focused on unraveling the role of frontolimbic circuits in cocaine addiction and relapse. He also brings clinical expertise and research interests in neurostimulation for individuals with refractory psychiatric disorders.