Our Team

Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, MD, is the Suzanne Crosby Murphy Professor of Developmental Neuropsychiatry at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center; Director of the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), and Columbia University; and Co-Director of both the NIMH T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship for Translational Research in Child Psychiatric Disorders and the Whitaker Scholar Program in Developmental Neuropsychiatry at NYSPI/Columbia University Medical Center. 

Dr. Veenstra-VanderWeele’s laboratory at Columbia University and NYSPI focuses on the serotonin and glutamate systems in genetic mouse models with abnormal social or repetitive/compulsive-like behavior. Dr. Veenstra-VanderWeele’s work has been recognized with multiple awards, including the 2017 Blanche Ittelson Award for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from the American Psychiatric Association. He is dedicated to helping train and develop the next generation of child psychiatrists and scientists who can generate an improved understanding of childhood neuropsychiatric disorders and deliver new treatments to the clinic.

Kally O’Reilly Sparks, PhD, is the Co-Director of the TrND Research Group. She is a Research Scientist V at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurobiology at Columbia University. Dr. O’Reilly Sparks is also the Director of Operations for the PROGRESS Autism Center of Excellence. Dr. O’Reilly Sparks uses rodent models in the TrND Lab to understand neurodevelopment and the role that the experience plays in shaping the developing brain and later behaviors. Recently published work has aimed to understand the anatomical and transcriptional development of the hippocampal-parahippocampal regions in the postnatal rat. Current studies are aimed at understanding the role of juvenile experiences (e.g., peer interactions, stress) in shaping social and cognitive behaviors as well as brain function. Other experiences of interest include the uterine environment and the impact of maternal factors influences the developing brain.

Muhammad O. Chohan, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry within the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and an Assistant Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI). Dr. Chohan obtained his medical degree in Pakistan. During medical school, he completed an internship at CUIMC and NYSPI where he examined the relationship between interneuron dysfunction and psychosis. After graduating from medical school, he did postdoctoral work on dopamine and glutamate abnormalities in psychosis, obsessive compulsive disorder and autism spectrum disorder at CUIMC and NYSPI. Dr. Chohan hopes to draw on his clinical background and research training to develop new approaches to understanding and treating the cognitive, motivational, and motor abnormalities that are characteristic of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Rebecca Siegel graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University with a BA in Neuroscience, with a cellular & molecular concentration, and a BA in English Literature. The research she conducted for her undergraduate neuroscience thesis examined the control of feeding behavior in the mouse cerebellum leveraging techniques including electrophysiology, neuroanatomical tracing, optogenetic stimulation, and behavioral studies. In the future, she plans to pursue a career as a clinician scientist. She is currently working on several mouse studies as a Research Assistant in the TrND lab and is the Project Coordinator for the Administrative Core of the PROGRESS Autism Center of Excellence.