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Katherine Scangos, MD

I aim to become a psychiatrist skilled in understanding and treating mood disorders at the level of neural circuits, an important need in the field of psychiatry. An enhanced understanding of the brain circuity underlying psychiatric disease can help with early diagnoses and develop personalized treatment regimens that maximize patient health outcomes. To address this area of unmet need, my research to date has focused on dissecting the circuits underlying mood and cognition. This interest began with preclinical work in systems neuroscience.

During my MD/PhD MSTP training at Johns Hopkins, I worked with Dr. Veit Stuphorn using single unit recordings in primates to study the neural circuits underlying inhibitory control. Subsequently, I completed a post-doctoral research year at UC-Davis with Dr. Cameron Carter, using imaging techniques to study disruptions in the same cognitive control circuits that arise in schizophrenia. I continued this work during psychiatry residency at UCDavis where I assessed the direct modulatory effects of neural stimulation, via tDCS, on cognitive circuit activity and behavior. In a parallel study with neurosurgeon Dr. Shahlaie, I studied this same circuit by stimulating in subcortical structures using DBS in patients with Parkinson’s disease and found that low-frequency stimulation led to improvements in mood and cognitive task performance.

Building on this past work, I earned an Interventional Psychiatry Fellowship at UCSF July 2017, where I have collaborated with a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, neuro-engineers, and neurosurgeons, including mentors Dr. Andrew Krystal and Dr. Edward Chang. This year I have worked with Dr. Krystal on a biomarker study utilizing EEG coherence measures to predict therapeutic response to ECT in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). I am also examining resting state neural signatures of MDD using intracranial recordings across a corticolimbic circuit. My long-term objectives are to a) identify RDoC informed subcircuits involved in specific presentations of depression; b) forward-translate the findings to non-invasive stimulation and recording techniques such as EEG-rTMS; c) explore the feasibility of and safety of closed-loop stimulation in MDD. Ultimate achievement of these goals would advance our understanding of the neural circuitry of MDD, leading to potentially earlier diagnosis of patients, personalized treatment regimens, and better patient outcomes.