Our Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) guides the Tourette Association of America in defining the strategic direction for our grant funding, promotes our funding calls among the scientific and medical community, reviews proposals, and ultimately makes recommendations for grant funding to the TAA’s Board of Directors.
Aryn Gittis, Ph.D.
Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Aryn Gittis studies the organization and function of neural circuits in the basal ganglia in order to understand the role that region of the brain plays in learning, movement, and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and dystonia. Her lab uses a variety of techniques including electrophysiology, optogenetics, histology and behavior to understand how circuits in the basal ganglia affect motor control.
Gittis is the recipient of a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to study the neuronal mechanisms that underlie compulsive behavior. She was a finalist for The Eppendorf & Science Prize for Neurobiology, an international prize that encourages the work of promising young neurobiologists.
Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
Postdoctoral Appointment, Gladstone Institute for Neurological Disease
Dr. John Piacentini, Ph.D.,
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Dr. John Piacentini is Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Chief of Child Psychology (in Psychiatry) in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA Semel Institute where he directs the Center for Child Anxiety, Resilience, Education and Support (CARES), and the Child OCD, Anxiety and Tic Disorders Program, a TAA Center of Excellence. Dr. Piacentini received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Georgia and completed post-doctoral training and was a faculty member at NY State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University. A board-certified clinical child and adolescent psychologist, his work focuses on the development and dissemination of science-based individual- and family-based treatments for youth with tic, OCD, anxiety, and body-focused repetitive behavior disorders. He has authored over 300 scientific publications, including seven books, and his research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, PCORI, IOCDF, TAA, TLC and other leading foundations and philanthropic organizations. Dr. Piacentini is also SAB Chair for the TLC Foundation for BFRBs, and past-president of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) and the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and a founding fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. He is a frequent lecturer and actively involved in training mental health practitioners how to treat youngsters with anxiety and similar problems.
Michael H. Bloch, M.D., M.S.
Yale Child Study Center
New Haven, CT
Michael H. Bloch, M.D., M.S. graduated from Yale School of Medicine and completed his child and adult psychiatry training at Yale. He is currently an Associate Professor at the Yale Child Study Center. His research focuses on evidence-based medicine and developing improved treatments for individuals with mental illness across the lifespan using clinical trials and meta-analysis. His clinical and research interests concentrate on depression, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, ADHD, trichotillomania and OCD across the lifespan. He has published over 125 peer-reviewed manuscripts and was co-editor of the fifth edition of the Lewis Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology and Depression and Anxiety. Dr. Bloch treats and evaluates children with anxiety, depression, TS, OCD, ADHD and TTM as part of the Yale Child Study Center TS/OCD clinic and Yale Child Study Center Program for Anxiety Disorders.
Scott N. Compton, Ph.D.
Duke University Medical Center
Dr. Compton is the Associate Professor of the Practice in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. His clinical specializations include: Anxiety disorders, cognitive-behavioral therapy, children and adolescents, trichotillomania and Tourette Syndrome.
Vonetta Dotson, Ph.D.
Georgia State University
Dr. Vonetta Dotson is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Gerontology at Georgia State University, Senior Project Scientist at NASA (KBR), and Founder and President of CerebroFit Integrated Brain Health. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association’s Society for Clinical Neuropsychology. She completed her doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Florida with a specialization in neuropsychology and a certificate in gerontology. She completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program. Her research and clinical activities focus on positive and negative modifiers of brain health, including the intersection of depression with cognitive and brain aging, and the impact of health disparities on brain health.
Donald Gilbert, M.D., MS, FAAN, FAAP
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Donald Gilbert, MD, earned his Bachelor of Arts at Princeton University, where he majored in philosophy. He subsequently earned his MD at the University of Michigan and spent a year at the National Institutes of Health as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Scholar. Dr. Gilbert did his pediatrics and neurology training at John Hopkins in Baltimore and is board certified in neurology with special competence in child neurology. Dr. Gilbert has an MS in clinical research design and statistical analysis from the University of Michigan.
Movement disorders; Tourette Syndrome; Sydenham’s chorea; kernicterus; dystonia; ataxia; clinical research; transcranial magnetic stimulation
Clinical trials in Tourette’s syndrome and associated ADHD; epidemiology of Tourette Syndrome and PANDAS; clinical effectiveness of multi-drug treatments in Tourette Syndrome; transcranial magnetic stimulation in Tourette Syndrome and pediatric movement disorders; functional neurosurgery for pediatric dystonia
Stephen J. Glatt, Ph.D.
SUNY Upstate Medical University
Dr. Glatt is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, of Neuroscience and Physiology, and of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, where he is also the Associate Director of Psychiatry Research. Dr. Glatt is trained as an experimental psychologist and genetic epidemiologist, and directs the Psychiatric Genetic Epidemiology & Neurobiology Laboratory, or PsychGENe Lab, at SUNY Upstate. He and his team are working to identify risk factors and biomarkers for brain disorders, with a particular emphasis on the interplay of risk and resilience in vulnerable families and populations.
H. A. (Buz) Jinnah, M.D., Ph.D.
Emory University School of Medicine
H. A. “Buz” Jinnah, MD-PhD is Professor of Neurology and Human Genetics at Emory University. He sees patients with all types of Movement Disorders in his clinic, with a special interest in neurogenetic disorders.
His research focusses on the biological foundations of dystonia and several specific neurogenetic disorders, and the translation of scientific discoveries into novel treatments, with more than 200 articles published to date.
Rosalinda Roberts, Ph.D.,
University of Alabama at Birmingham
School of Medicine
Dr. Rosalinda Roberts received her Ph.D. in biological sciences in the department of Anatomy and Neurobiology from the University of California, Irvine in 1986. There she studied an animal model of epilepsy using anatomical and behavioral methods. She then went to Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital to do a postdoctoral fellowship in the department of Neurology, where she studied an animal model of Huntington’s Disease. In 1990, Dr. Roberts went to the University of Maryland at Baltimore to join the Department of Psychiatry at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC) as an Assistant Professor. Her lifetime research focus began here as she turned her focus to the neuropathology in schizophrenia in human postmortem brain and on the effects of antipsychotic drugs in rodent models. In addition, Dr. Roberts played a major role in the management of the Maryland Brain Collection, and directed the collection for many years. During this time Dr. Roberts was the principal investigator on four NIH R01s and several foundation grants and has published over 130 manuscripts and books. In 2007 Dr. Roberts joined the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology as the second holder of the Kathy Ireland Endowed Chair in Psychiatry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL where she continues her research on ultrastructural changes in the brain in schizophrenia. She started and directs the Alabama Brain Collection and is the Tissue Coordinator for the TSA Brain Tissue Program.
Jeremiah Scharf, M.D., Ph.D.,
Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Jeremiah Scharf is a behavioral neurologist and neuropsychiatric geneticist who works as the interface between neurology and psychiatry, employing genetics and clinical research tools to investigate the etiology and pathogenesis of Tourette Syndrome and related disorders as model neuropsychiatric illnesses. His research lab is focused on genetic and non-genetic factors that predispose individuals to TS and its common comorbidities, specifically obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Dr. Scharf is the co-chair of the Tourette Association International Consortium for Genetics Steering (Tourette AssociationICG) Committee and principal investigator of the Tourette AssociationICG multicenter U01 grant from the NINDS. Dr. Scharf is also Director of the Partners Neurology Tic Disorders Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, which currently sees over 75 new cases a year and provides comprehensive clinical assessments and ongoing management of TS patients referred from local, regional, national and international sources.
Bradley L. Schlaggar, M.D., Ph.D.
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Dr. Bradley L. Schlaggar (Honors ScB Brown University 1986; MD/PhD Washington University 1994) is the President and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD, where he also holds the Zanvyl Krieger Faculty Endowed Chair and is a Professor of Neurology and of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Prior to moving to Baltimore in August 2018, Dr Schlaggar was the A. Ernest and Jane G. Stein Professor of Developmental Neurology, in Neurology, and Professor of Neurology, Radiology, Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics, at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. In 1999, he completed his pediatric neurology residency training at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University. From 2014-2018, he served as the Head of Pediatric & Developmental Neurology, co-Director of the Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Center, and Neurologist-in-Chief at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He served as the Pediatric Neurology Residency Director from 2005-2013. He has received numerous awards for research, mentorship, clinical care, and community service, including the Philip R Dodge Young Investigator Award from the Child Neurology Society, the Norman Geschwind Award for Behavioral Neurology from the American Academy of Neurology, the E. Mead Johnson Award from the Society for Pediatric Research, and the Frank Hatch Award for Outstanding Community Service from the John Merck Foundation. Dr. Schlaggar’s research efforts, funded primarily by the NIH, have been directed at understanding the development of the brain’s functional network architecture in typically and atypically developing children. Dr. Schlaggar’s clinical expertise is in pediatric movement disorders, including Tourette syndrome, as well as developmental disorders of language and cognition.
Marc F. Schmidt, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Marc Schmidt is currently Professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania where he studies the neural circuits involved in acoustic communication using songbirds as a model system. His work has focused on the motor control of song production and the role of behavioral state on sensory processing. Because the specialized circuits involved in vocal communication rely on the same basal ganglia circuitry that is affected in TS, this work allows the study of sensorimotor integration and processing within a natural behavior. Dr. Schmidt is also director of the Biological Basis of Behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Having an adult daughter with TS, Dr. Schmidt has been heavily involved in TS outreach. He founded Waffles for Tourette, which raises awareness of TS at local Farmers Markets, and runs a workshop twice a year in collaboration with the Integrative Health Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This workshop was funded by a TAA/CDC seed grant and consists of a one-day workshop for parents and teens blending education and advocacy with mindfulness and theater improvisation techniques to address TS.
Kim Seroogy, Ph.D.
University of Cincinnati
Dr. Kim Seroogy is currently Professor of Neurology at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine. Dr. Seroogy earned his BS in biology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and received his PhD in neurobiology from the University of California-Irvine, where he studied the organization of neuromodulatory proteins in brain dopamine systems. Following postdoctoral training at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Dr. Seroogy spent 12 years in the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology at the University of Kentucky as assistant/associate/full professor investigating neurodegeneration and neuroplasticity in the basal ganglia. In 2003, he joined UC as Professor of Neurology and Director of The Selma Schottenstein Harris Laboratory for Research in Parkinson’s Disease. His research involves deciphering the neurochemical and neurotrophic events underlying Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and depression, focusing on the neuroprotective and neurorestorative roles of select growth factors. His research, published in more than 110 scientific papers, review articles and book chapters, has been funded by the NIH, NSF, Department of Defense, and several national foundations. Dr. Seroogy is past Vice Chair of Basic Research in Neurology and past Director of the UC Neuroscience Graduate Program. He currently serves on a grant advisory panel for NIH and on the editorial board of the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience.
Kristina Simonyan, M.D., Ph.D.
TiHo University of Hannover, Germany
Kristina Simonyan received her medical degrees (M.D. and Dr. med.) from Yerevan State Medical University in Armenia and Georg-August University in Goettingen, Germany, as well as a PhD degree in Neurobiology from TiHo University of Hannover, Germany. She completed her medical residency in otolaryngology and clinical research fellowship in movement disorders, neurolaryngology and neuroimaging. Dr. Simonyan studies the neural mechanisms of normal and diseased speech production and other complex voluntary motor behaviors. Her clinical research program is focused on focal dystonia, a debilitating neurological movement disorder causing involuntary muscle spasms in different body regions. Her methodological approach bridges brain imaging, computational neuroscience, genetics and clinical trials for identification of objective diagnosis, prediction of risk, and treatment of dystonia. Her recent studies have mapped the large-scale neural architecture underlying speech production and its impairments in focal dystonias. This work has led to identification of potential neural markers of laryngeal dystonia (or spasmodic dysphonia) as well as the assessment of new therapeutic options for the treatment of this disorder. Her research is currently supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIDCD and NINDS), Jazz Pharmaceuticals, and Amazon Web Services.