I graduated from the MGH/McLean psychiatry residency program in 2019. I received my MD from Teheran University of Medical Sciences. Prior to residency, I finished my PhD in Neuroscience at Columbia University, and my postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. My PhD and post-doctoral training and research have been predominantly in computational and quantitative neuroscience. I worked on models for synaptic plasticity in the cortical networks, representation of sensory information in the brain, and development of cortical circuits in animal models, in close collaboration with neurophysiologists. Upon starting residency, I gravitated toward the burgeoning field of computational psychiatry, which utilizes and optimizes computational methods for mental health research, with a goal to apply this to the phenomenology of psychosis. Early on during my PGY-1 year, I joined the Research Concentration Program (RCP). Throughout my residency RCP was an invaluable resource for supporting my protected research time, providing mentoring and guidance, and fostering my research interest. I spent my PGY-1 research block reading the primary literature on computational approaches in schizophrenia research, wrapping up an article remaining from my post-doc period, and meeting several researchers in Boston area for potential future collaboration.
As a PGY-2, I was able to learn more deeply about clinical aspects of psychotic disorders, particularly on my AB2 rotation, which was the highlight of my year. I became specifically interested in visual disfunction in schizophrenia, which is mostly overlooked in clinical settings. My rationale for focusing on vison was that the visual system is the most extensively studied in the brain across species, modalities, and methods. Therefore, if there is a footprint of schizophrenia in the primary visual system, there is hope that a combination of computational, behavioral, and neuroimaging techniques could shed some light on its underlying neural dysfunction. The most important research-related insight that I gained during my PGY-2 was that there is indeed such a footprint of psychosis in early visual processing. I spent the research block of my PGY-2 to schedule more targeted meetings with potential mentors who worked on visual dysfunction in schizophrenia, and did a research rotation with an imaging lab. I also presented the results of my computational psychiatry project at the SOBP meeting in the spring of my PGY-2 year.
During my PGY-3, I officially joined the research group of Dr. Daphne Holt at Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. I also collaborate with Dr. Roger Tootell at the Martinos center. My current research project is to design a series of psychophysical tasks to track the deficits in visual information processing through the visual hierarchy, namely primary (V1), secondary (V2), and infero-temporal (IT) visual cortical areas, in schizophrenia. In parallel, I am developing a computational model that can potentially relate those deficits to certain aspects of excitation-inhibition imbalance in cortical circuits. Ultimately, the predictions of the model will be tested by functional neuroimaging in patients with schizophrenia. I applied for a number of research grants during my PGY-4 and was awarded the Translational Neuroscience Training for Clinicians (TNTC) fellowship, an NIH T32 grant administered by MGH Psychiatry department. I was also awarded the Pamela Sklar Fellowship in Psychiatric Neuroscience and Genomics administered by the Stanly Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute. After graduation, I joined the First Episode and Early Psychosis program (FEPP) at MGH, while continuing my research at the Martinos Center. Currently I spend 10% of my time in clinical practice, and 90% of my time in research. I am working toward applying for an NIH Career Development (K) Award to support my research.