General Psychiatry Research


Our Lab studies the neural basis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and has explored the mechanism of memory deficits in psychotic patients. Dr. Heckers has combined post-mortem studies (hippocampal neuron number and gene expression) with neuroimaging studies of hippocampal structure and function. In the context of these studies, the Heckers Lab has applied existing and developed novel experimental paradigms to explore hippocampal function. They are now conducting longitudinal studies investigating changes in hippocampal structure and function in the early stages of psychosis.

Stephan Heckers, MD MSc

Heckers Lab web link:



Our lab studies the role of endogenous cannabinoids as mediators of stress resiliency and has extramurally funded research projects in areas of endocannabinoid synaptic biology, endocannabinoid-based therapeutics development, and investigation of circuit-level mechanisms by which endocannabinoids promote resiliency to stress. We are also interested in understanding how plant-derived cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol, regulate affective behavior and stress responses in light of the growing use of medical cannabis by patients with a verity of psychiatric disorders including PTSD, addiction, and depression. 

Sachin Patel, MD PhD

Patel Lab web link:



Our research focuses on understanding the neurobiology underlying social impairments across neuropsychiatric disorders, with an emphasis on development of novel treatments for aggressive behaviors. Toward this goal, the lab uses animal models and systems neuroscience approaches to identify brain regions and circuits that modulate social and aggressive behaviors. These basic science findings are translated to focused human studies to investigate potential therapeutic interventions. The lab is particularly interested in identifying how hippocampal pathology in a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy, contribute to alterations in social processes and aggressive or impulsive behaviors.

Alan S. Lewis, MD PhD

Lewis Lab web link:…



Dr. Skikic is involved in supporting the program’s research efforts in advancing our understanding of the neurobiology and medical workup of individuals who experience psychosis. Academically, she is active in the development and dissemination of neuroscience-focused educational materials at the institutional and national levels as well as advancing general psychiatry residency education. 

  Maja Skikic, MD


Our lab is an interdisciplinary group of physicians and scientists that study the prevalence, severity and diagnostic structure of catatonia and delirium across multiple medical settings, including the critical care and general medicine settings. Her current work includes a large prospective longitudinal cohort study (DeCat - Delirium and Catatonia Prospective Cohort Investigation), in which she is studying risk factors (including genetics), prevalence and clinical relevance of catatonia in the intensive care unit.