Medical Professional Publications

Getting to Know...

Highlighting the Newest Principal Investigators at The Research Institute

Barbara Gracious, MD
Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice

Dr. Gracious’ research focuses on metabolic health risk and prevention in adolescents with mood disorders.

Dr. Gracious is exploring the role vitamin D deficiency plays in populations with mental health disorders.  She plans to study whether or not adolescents with vitamin D deficiency who receive vitamin D supplementation when entering treatment will experience better response to depression treatment and metabolic health.  

Dr. Gracious also plans to examine the use of a low omega-6, high omega-3 dietary intervention in adolescents with elevated lipid profiles who are being treated with second generation antipsychotics to lower their cardiovascular risk for future heart disease. Future work may also prospectively examine the risk for hypertension and related factors in adolescents with major mood disorders.

She is also conducting pilot studies that examine bone health in children and adolescents with mental disorders.

Sarah Keim, PhD, MA, MS
Center for Biobehavioral Health

Dr. Keim is a perinatal and pediatric epidemiologist whose research is focused on studying the role of maternal psychosocial and nutritional factors on the cognitive development of children from infancy through preschool.  Much of her research is focused on how maternal genes, diet and depression during pregnancy or after delivery influence the amount of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) available to infants and eventually cognition, especially for infants born preterm.  She is broadly interested in critically examining the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis as it pertains to cognition and mental health.


Andrea Bonny, MD
Center for Clinical and Translational Research

Adolescence is a critical period of body composition changes including increases in bone mineral density, lean body mass and total body fat.  Medications commonly used by adolescents may result in abnormal losses of bone mineral density and/or increases in body fat, increasing an adolescent’s risk of osteopenia or obesity later in life.  Dr. Bonny’s current work examines the mechanisms of weight gain and bone mineral density loss among adolescents who utilize hormonal contraceptive methods.   Her team has been evaluating the peripheral fat cell response to depot medroxyprogesterone acetate and characterizing pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic profiles among adolescents on this progestin. The goal is to help minimize adverse effects related to medications while maintaining efficacy.

Nehal Parikh, DO, MS
Center for Perinatal Research
Perinatal-neonatal brain injury is a leading contributor of neurodevelopmental impairments. Dr. Parikh’s goal is to improve the long-term quality of life of high-risk preterm and term newborns by preventing perinatal-neonatal brain injury. His lab is currently pursuing this goal by utilizing emerging translational technologies and robust statistical approaches that are revealing novel risk factors, enhancing diagnosis, improving outcome prediction, and highlighting key prevention and management strategies. Currently employed approaches include the early use of advanced brain magnetic resonance imaging, development of automated volumetric and diffusion tensor MRI post-processing tools, long-term neuropsychological and behavioral assessments, Bayesian statistical approaches, and machine learning algorithms.

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