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Mechanisms of Health & Disease Research Programs

Browse below to learn about the work our scientists are doing related to the mechanisms of health and disease.

 Lauren Wakschlag, PhD, Research Program

Wakschlag’s program studies how early development (from the prenatal-preschool period) shapes mental health pathways.

Research Description

Wakschlag and her collaborators have generated the first “developmentally-sensitive toolkit” specifically designed to enhance early identification of mental health problems, via empirically based differentiation of the normative misbehavior of early childhood from the onset of disruptive behavior at preschool age. Currently, these tools are being used to pinpoint corollary neurodevelopmental atypicalities, with work underway to ready the tools for clinical use. Most recently, this work has focused on the neurodevelopment of irritability as a shared substrate of common childhood-onset mental disorders.

The second major focus of her research is elucidating prenatal origins of disease pathways. Increasingly, her work in this area aims to discover the patterns of brain: behavior atypicality associated with adverse prenatal exposures. The long-term goal of these efforts is to serve as an impetus for moving the “dial” of mental health prevention much earlier in the disease sequence by providing well-characterized neurodevelopmental phenotypes of disease susceptibility to serve as core prevention targets.

For more information, see Wakschlag's faculty profile.


See Wakschlag’s publications on PubMed.


 Lisa Wu, PhD, Research Program

Wu’s program studies biological and chronobiological mechanisms of the cancer symptom cluster, quality-of-life and survivorship issues in cancer patients and the development of interventions to treat such symptoms.

Research Description

Wu has conducted research examining quality-of-life and survivorship issues in cancer patients, particularly cognitive impairment. In recent years, she has channeled her interest in neurorehabilitation into her research, which is primarily focused on the neurobehavioral and neurocognitive changes associated with cancer and its treatment and the development of interventions to treat such changes. She is also interested in the underlying biological and chronobiological mechanisms of the cancer symptom cluster (including fatigue, cognitive impairment, sleep and mood disturbances) in cancer survivors. Wu's research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.

For more information, see Wu's faculty profile.


See Wu’s publications on PubMed.


Program Staff

Lauren Walker
Research Study Coordinator

Katrin Bovbjerg
Research Study Coordinator

Amreen Matharu
Research Assistant

 Elizabeth Johnson, PhD, Research Programs
Johnson’s program studies the brain dynamics underlying memory and cognitive control across the human lifespan.

Johnson is a cognitive and developmental neuroscientist. Her research program focuses on the dynamical nature of human memory and cognitive control to understand how we can flexibly update our autobiographies as we amass experiences from childhood through adulthood. Research combines methods from cognitive psychology and human neuroscience, including invasive and noninvasive electrophysiology, electrical stimulation, eyetracking, and structural imaging.

For more information, see the Dynamic Brain Lab website.


See Johnson’s publications on PubMed.


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