Research Team

Medical Director

  • Meg Benningfield, MD

    Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
    Director, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Dr. Meg Benningfield is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and pursued clinical training in psychiatry at Harvard. She completed residency in General Psychiatry at Massachusetts General and McLean Hospitals and a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cambridge Hospital. In 2008, she joined the faculty at Vanderbilt where she has pursued an academic career balanced between research, education, and clinical practice with a focus in prevention of addiction. 

Program Director

  • Sarah Marler, MA, CPA

    Clinic Phone

    Sarah Marler is a master's level psychologist, specializing in the neuropsychological assessment of children and adults with developmental disabilities. Sarah completed her graduate work in Clinical Psychology in 2010 and helped develop this research clinic beginning in 2012, alongside Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele and Kevin Sanders. She currently serves as the MEND Research Clinic's program director, overseeing and implementing all ongoing and upcoming trials.

Principal Investigators

  • Dr Joshua Ryan Smith is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. He pursued clinical training in adult psychiatry at the University of Virginia and child and adolescent psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Mclean Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital. During his child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship, he obtained subspecialty training in consult-liaison psychiatry, neuromodulation, and autism spectrum disorders at the Alan and Lorraine Bressler Program for Autism Spectrum Disorders. In 2021, he joined the faculty at Vanderbilt to grow and develop clinical and research services in child psychiatry, neurodevelopmental disorders, catatonia, and neuromodulation. In the past academic year, Dr. Smith has started and grown a sub-specialty clinic which provides psychopharmacologic and neuromodulatory care of children and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders and co-morbid psychiatric symptoms. At the national level, Dr. Smith participates in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Psychopharmacology and Neurotherapeutics Workgroup and the Early Career Research Colloquium.

  • Allyson Witters Cundiff, MD obtained her residency training in Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and completed the fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry also at Vanderbilt, serving as chief fellow. In 2015, Dr. Cundiff was the recipient of the Bolian Award in recognition of her outstanding clinical care and dedication as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellow.  After the completion of fellowship, Dr. Cundiff joined the faculty of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry department and is an Assistant Professor in the Vanderbilt Behavioral Health program on the consult liaison service at the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.  Additionally, she has been a part-time attending at Centerstone community mental health center in Clarksville, TN.  As part of our team, she serves as both a Principal and Sub-Investigator on trials for ASD, Fragile X, Angelman syndrome, and adolescent psychosis.  

Study Coordinators

  • Caroline Roof, BS

    (615) 343-2018
    (615) 343-6547

    Caroline Roof graduated from Rhodes College in 2021 with a Bachelor's in Neuroscience. Since joining the team as a research coordinator, she has taken a lead coordinator role on our Autism trials.