Peg Nopoulos, MD

Peg Nopoulos is a Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Neurology and the Chair and Departmental Executive Officer of Psychiatry.

Dr. Nopoulos’ research focuses on the study of the brain and behavior. This is done using state of the art neuroimaging techniques, specifically Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Dr. Nopoulos is interested in aspects of understanding normal healthy brains such as differences in brain structure and function between the sexes, as well as understanding how the brain changes with development through adolescence. In regard to the study of disease, her lab has investigated differences in brain structure and function a wide variety of conditions, including: craniofacial disorders such as clefts of the lip and/or palate, Huntington’s Disease and Juvenile-onset Huntington’s Disease, prematurity in infants, and Myotonic Dystrophy type 1.  Dr. Nopoulos has served as Vice Chair for Research for the Department of Psychiatry since 2011.

A large part of Dr. Nopoulos’ career has been in the mentorship of research careers for clinicians. She developed and directed the Iowa Medical Student Research Program (IMSRP) from 2001-2013 and directed the Iowa Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship, also from 2001-2013. In addition to students, she is actively involved in mentoring residents, fellows, and junior faculty members. Dr. Nopoulos served as Associate Director for Education in the Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS) from 2013-2016, where she developed and directed the Master’s Program in Translational Biomedicine.  Currently, she serves as Director of the Iowa Neuroscience Specialty Program in Research Education (INSPIRE) T32 post-doctoral program and actively supports several junior investigators with preliminary research projects.

Dr. Nopoulos was named Chair and Departmental Executive Officer (DEO) of the Department of Psychiatry in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in July 2018, following a national search in which she was recommended as the top finalist for the position.  She served as interim Chair and DEO from mid-2017 until her appointment.

 

Junior Investigators and Research Faculty


Ahmad Al-Huniti, MD

Ahmad Al-Huniti, MD, is a fellow physician in the division of Pediatric Hematology Oncology. He is interested in studying neuroimaging in pediatric bleeding disorders.

Amanda Benavides, MD, PhD

Amanda Benavides is a postdoctoral research fellow in the  Iowa Neuroscience Specialty Program in Research Education (INSPIRE) in the Department of Psychiatry.  She previously completed her graduate thesis studies in the Nopoulos laboratory as part of the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program, and subsequently graduated from the University of Iowa Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) in 2017.  Benavides continues to directly observe the interface of scientific research and clinical medicine during her post-graduate training years.  Her current research interests include investigation of neurodevelopmental outcomes of brain structure and function in preterm infants who received different transfusion strategies, with the use of various magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) analysis protocols and novel early cognitive tests.

Amy Conrad

Amy Conrad, PhD

Amy L Conrad, PhD, is an Associate in the Department of Pediatrics and has been with the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory since 2005. Conrad obtained her doctorate degree in counseling psychology from the University of Iowa in 2004. Her main focus is evaluating the development of language and learning disorders in children with oral clefts using structural and functional neuroimaging techniques. Her work is funded by a Mentored Clinical Research Training Grant (K-23) from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and a pilot grant from the Cleft Palate Foundation. She also collaborates with the University of Iowa Cleft-Palate Clinic on evaluation of patient psychosocial and learning concerns. Conrad’s clinical time focuses on the evaluation of specific language, learning, and attention disorders in children.

Jon Goodwin

Jon Goodwin, PhD

Jon Goodwin, PhD, is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Goodwin earned his doctorate degree in School Psychology from the University of Iowa in 2017. He began his affiliation with the Nopoulos lab in 2012, having served as a graduate research assistant for the Kids-HD neuroimaging study. His current research is focused on evaluating the cognitive and scholastic functioning of children, adolescents, and young adults with isolated clefts of the lip and/or palate (iCL/P). He is particularly interested in better understanding the scholastic outcomes of patients with iCL/P, especially within the areas of mathematics and expressive written language. As a licensed psychologist, he also provides clinical services to patients with neurodevelopmental disorders, including specific learning disorders (SLD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Lyndsay Harshman

Lyndsay Harshman, MD

Lyndsay Harshman, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics - Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation. Dr. Harshman's research focuses on linking neuroimaging and neurocognitive assessments in pediatric chronic kidney disease (CKD).  The aim of her research is to inform greater understanding of changes that may be occurring in the developing brain in parallel with progression of CKD.  Specifically, children with CKD may be at risk for deficits in executive function and academic achievement with advancing disease, although the mechanisms related to this are unclear.  A greater understanding of the neurocognitive changes observed in this population will allow for targeted provider assistance with patient/family medical decision-making and medication compliance.

Timothy Koscik, PhD

Timothy R. Koscik, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry since October 2017. Tim's main areas of focus include: 1) extreme resolution neuroimaging to bring multimodal neuroimaging measures to the scale of histological analysis to generate individualized mappings of brain structure, function, and pathology; and 2) to harness advances in modern statistics and a computational psychiatry perspective to model brain -cognition relationships in brain-related disorders and mental illness.

(Queena) Li-Chun Lin, PhD

Queena Lin is an Assistant Research Scientist of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and Neurology. With a doctorate degree in Neurobiology and Translational Neuroscience Program in Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Lin received a post-doctoral training in Neurology at the UCSF and joined the Abel lab at the Iowa Neuroscience Institute, University of Iowa in October 2018. Dr. Lin’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying selective cellular vulnerability in brain disorders and sleep disturbances across life span, including Huntington’s Disease and Juvenile-onset Huntington’s Disease.  

Jordan Schultz, PharmD

Jordan Schultz, PharmD, graduated from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 2013.  After completing a 2 year residency, he began providing clinical pharmacy services to patients with neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington’s Disease.  In addition to his clinical work, Jordan conducts clinical research within the Nopoulos lab that is focused on (1) understanding the pathophysiology of Huntington’s Disease and (2) identifying environmental factors, including medications, that may modify the disease course of HD.

Ellen van der Plas, PhD

Ellen van der Plas, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. van der Plas obtained her doctorate degree in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa in 2011 and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, Canada) in 2017. She joined the Psychiatry faculty at the University of Iowa in December 2017. Dr. van der Plas’ research interest is in neurodevelopmental problems associated with childhood cancer. She has also been working closely with Dr. Nopoulos on projects related to the neurodevelopmental aspects of various trinucleotide repeat disorders, including Huntington’s Disease (HD) and Myotonic Dystrophy 1 (DM1). 

 

Research Team Members


Sonia Slevinski

Sonia Slevinski, MS

Sonia Slevinski, MS, is a research manager and has been with the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory since 2008. Slevinski studied sociology and counseling psychology and is a National Certified Counselor (NCC). She worked in community and inpatient mental health services for ten years before joining the Nopoulos Lab as a research associate. She became the coordinator for the Kids-HD study in 2011, managing study administration, assessment and participant enrollment. Since 2013, Slevinski has served as lab manager while remaining heavily involved in the Kids-HD and Kids-JHD studies. 

Eric Axelson

Eric Axelson

Eric Axelson is a research specialist whose primary focus is the processing of all of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data for the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory. Axelson has been with the laboratory since 2003. Eric also collaborates with many investigators in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa as well as investigators at other sites in the United States and abroad on their respective imaging studies.

Stephen Cross

Stephen Cross

Stephen Cross earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas in 1989. He worked in community and inpatient mental health services in Dallas for eight years before moving to Iowa in 1997. Since then, Cross has worked in both clinical and research positions within the University of Iowa’s Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry. He is a member of the National Association of Psychometrists (NAP) and obtained board certification as a Certified Specialist in Psychometry (CSP) in 2007. 
Since 2008, Cross has primarily been devoted to research into Huntington Disease – serving as a research coordinator for the PREDICT-HD study for six years. He joined the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory as a research associate in April 2014 in order to coordinate the Kids Juvenile HD Study, as well as to co-coordinate a new pilot study of Myotonic Dystrophy-Type 1 (DM1.)

Claire Johnson

Claire Johnson, BS

Claire earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Iowa in 2015. While she earned her bachelor’s she worked in Dr. John Spencer’s developmental psychology lab, as well as Dr. Amy Poremba’s cognitive neuroscience lab. She joined the Nopoulos lab in November 2015 as a research assistant working on the Myotonic Dystrophy Brain Study.

Marci Novak

Marci Novak, MA, is a research assistant who joined the Nopoulos Lab in 2016. She studied sociology and psychology as an undergraduate student with an emphasis in school social work. In 2015 Marci received her master’s degree in organizational leadership. She primarily works on the neuroimaging in pediatric chronic kidney disease study, performing neurocognitive and behavioral testing while assisting in data analysis and other study management.

Ashley Cochran

Ashley Cochran earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Drake University in 2016. She began working for the Nopoulos Lab in 2016, and is currently a research assistant working on the DM1 and JHD studies, as well as the SCA pilot study.

Kathleen Langbehn

Kathleen Langbehn received a bachelor's degree in Psychology in 2018 from Converse College. Langbehn worked in the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory in January 2018 and joined the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory full-time in June 2018 assisting with data analysis with DM1 and KidsHD studies.

Matt McIIrath

Matt McIlrath has been working with the Nopoulos Lab since November of 2017. He is a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Iowa, wrapping up a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Physiology.  Upon completion of his undergraduate work, Matt plans to attend medical school.

Hend Al-Kaylani

Hend Al-Kaylani joined the Nopoulos Lab in February 2019 as a student research assistant. She is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Iowa with a major in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Rhetoric and Persuasion. After earning her bachelor's degree, Hend aims to attend medical school. 

Lucy Wagner

Lucy Wagner is an undergraduate research assistant working in Dr. Nopoulos's laboratory through the SUMR (Summer Undergraduate MSTP Research) program. She is a rising junior at St. Olaf College majoring in chemistry and mathematics, and minoring in neuroscience and mathematical biology. Prior to starting with the Nopoulos team, Lucy worked as a research assistant in Dr. Narayanan's and Dr. Aldridge's labs, investigating Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementias respectively. This summer, She is working on the Kids-HD Huntington's disease project, particularly focusing on the anatomical dimensions of the cerebellum and cortex within these patients. 

Olivia Lullmann

Olivia Lullmann is an undergraduate research assistant that began working in Nopoulos Lab in February 2019. She is a sophomore at the University of Iowa studying neuroscience on the pre-medicine track. Primarily, she assists Dr. Lyndsay Harshman with the pedatric chronic kidney disease (CKD) study. 

 

Past Team Members


Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson, BA

Jennifer Henderson joined the Nopoulos lab in December 2014 and was lead research coordinator for the Kids-HD study. Henderson obtained her Bachelor’s in Psychology with a concentration in Journalism from the University of Iowa in May 2011. Prior to accepting her position with the Nopoulos Lab, Jennifer coordinated and performed research duties with several brain-based learning and cognition studies, including driving impairment studies involving cannabis and alcohol, a clinical trial for Alzheimer’s prevention, and undergraduate research on attention and perception. Prior to her involvement in research, Jennifer served as an Iowa police officer and performed duties as a hospital administrator with the Iowa National Guard. 

Faisal Fecto, MD, PhD

Faisal Fecto, MD, PhD, was Chief Resident Physician in the Department of Neurology who started with the Nopoulos Laboratory in 2017. Faisal obtained his medical degree from Aga Khan University in Pakistan. Following medical school, he completed his PhD and post-doctoral fellowship in neuroscience and neurogenetics at Northwestern University in Chicago. At Iowa, he was part of the physician-scientist and clinical-neuroscientist training tracks. His research interests center on the exploration of biological mechanisms that contribute to human neurodegenerative diseases in general and neuromuscular diseases in particular. He is particularly interested in identifying genetic etiologies, pathologic hallmarks and neuroimaging correlates of these diseases that can be used to drive clinical trials to identify novel rational therapies. His research is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Research Education Grant (R25) for Residents and Fellows in Neurology.

Joel Bruss

Joel Bruss

Joel Bruss is a Research Specialist who started with the Nopolous Laboratory in 2014. Joel also works in the Department of Neurology for Dr. Daniel Tranel, where he has been a Research Assistant/Specialist since 2000. Joel specializes in structural and functional image processing and is currently working on projects involving resting state fMRI and white matter connectivity.

Deb George

Deb George

Deb George, MD, attended ISU as an undergraduate and Iowa for Medical School. She practiced family medicine in Mount Vernon for many years. Deb volunteered her time to perform chart review and scoring for the Nopoulos Lab.

Corinne Hamlin

Corinne Hamlin

Corinne Hamlin received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2007 and a Master of Arts in Teaching in 2008. She worked as an Admissions Clinician for an eating disorder treatment center in Colorado. In 2010, she began her work in research at the University of Iowa where she worked on the Iowa Flood Study examining the long-term effects of perinatal distress on child development. She has also worked for the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center where she coordinated the Molecular and Epidemiologic Resource for breast cancer. She worked with the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory assisting with the Pre-term infant studies and the KidsHD study.

Jordan Harrelson

Jordan Harrelson, MA

Jordan Harrelson earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice in 2012 and his master’s degree in psychology from Loras College in 2015. While pursuing his master’s degree, Jordan worked as a behavioral health interventions counselor. He began working as a research assistant for the Nopoulos Laboratory in the summer of 2015 with the KidsHD study.  

Jane Kerr

Jane Kerr  

Jane is a Research Specialist who joined the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory to coordinate the Kids-JHD study and assist with the KIDS-HD study as needed. She has worked in Psychiatry Research at the University of Iowa for the past 15 years, working on studies with Adults diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, studies for Myotonic Dystrophy as well as clinical trials for those with schizophrenia.

Ian DeVolder

Ian DeVolder

Ian DeVolder is a former graduate research assistant who started with the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory in 2011. DeVolder obtained his bachelor’s degrees in behavioral neuroscience and mathematics from Saint Ambrose University in 2010. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program. His main research focus involved neurodevelopment (both normal and abnormal) and its relationship to cognitive development (particularly language abilities). A majority of his research focused on populations with craniofacial abnormalities.

Jessica Lee

Jessica Lee

Jessica Lee is a former graduate research assistant who started with the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory in 2011.  She is a graduate of the University of Iowa Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program. Lee was involved in a number of studies evaluating the brain structure and function of children at risk for Huntington disease. Utilizing neuroimaging techniques and behavioral assessments, her research mainly focused on investigating the development of the frontostriatal network connectivity and function in children who are at risk for Huntington disease.

Alexander Tereshchenko

Alexander Tereshchenko  

Alexander Tereshchenko is an MD/PhD graduate of the Medical Scientist Training Program and the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience. He received his B.S. in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Michigan and joined the Nopoulos Laboratory in 2015. Tereshchenko is interested in using noninvasive imaging modalities to help understand brain circuits in normal and abnormal mental function, identifying biomarkers of psychiatric illness. His work at the Nopoulos Laboratory focused on elucidating neurodevelopmental changes in Huntington’s disease. 

Carter Worth

Carter Worth 

Carter Worth is a former student research assistant that started with the Nopoulos Laboratory in 2014. Carter attends the University of Iowa, working towards a bachelor’s of science in Psychology. After completing his undergraduate work, Carter plans to attend medical school.  

Jane Brumbaugh

Jane Brumbaugh, MD

Jane Brumbaugh, MD, was an associate in the Division of Neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa and a junior investigator in the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory. Brumbaugh joined the University of Iowa in 2012 following the completion of her medical training at the University of Minnesota. As a clinician, she sees and cares for patients in the neonatal intensive care unit. Brumbaugh's research interests in the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory centered on the cognitive outcomes of children born in the moderate to late preterm gestational age range.

Russell Valentin

Russell Valentin

Russell Valentin is a former student research assistant with the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory. Valentin attended the University of Iowa, working towards majors in Psychology and Human Physiology. Prior to joining the Nopoulos Laboratory, he spent several months as a research assistant in the Spatial, Perception, Action, and Memory (SPAM) Laboratory, under the supervision of Dr. John Spencer in the Spence Laboratories of Psychology. Valentin’s main research focus in the Peg Nopoulos Laboratory was assessing the trajectory of a high-risk preterm infant population with regard to cognitive deficits and changes in brain morphology associated with premature birth. His analysis involved the use of a novel assessment tool, the IOWA task, to probe at these cognitive deficits. Valentin plans to attend medical school after completing his undergraduate work.