Scientific Advisory Board Bios

The m-HELP initiative was created by a group of internationally acclaimed researchers in the fields of psychiatry and psychology affiliated with leading universities around the world. These researchers are also responsible for the ongoing development and refinement of m-HELP’s services.  The RE-GROW study is part of the m-HELP initiative for adults residing in Appalachia.

Ronald C. Kessler, PhD

A McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, and one of the world’s most influential psychiatric epidemiologists. As the Director of the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative, Professor Kessler has carried out large-scale mental health needs assessment surveys for federal governments in over 30 countries around the world. These studies have led to a dramatic increase in the recognition of the importance of unmet need for treatment of mental disorders and important changes in government policies for expanding access to this treatment.

Professor Kessler’s research focuses largely on modifiable risk and protective factors for the onset and persistence of common mental disorders and differential response to interventions aimed at treating these disorders. His work on the development of machine learning models for optimal personalized treatment of common mental disorders is the foundation of the Precision Treatment of Mental Disorders Initiative. He has received many awards for his research. He is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine and the only psychiatric epidemiologist ever elected to membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Professor Kessler is the author of over 700 scientific publications and has for many years been the most highly-cited researcher in the world in the field of psychiatry.

Robert Bossarte, PhD

Director of the Injury Control Center at West Virginia University Medical School and Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry. He worked at the CDC, University of Rochester, and Veterans Health Administration before joining the WVU faculty in 2016. Professor Bossarte is a psychiatric epidemiologist whose research focuses on using large-complex data systems to identify predictors of suicide and related behaviors. He is involved in research on Veteran suicide as a member of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs MIRECC VINS 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, where he leads the program in predictive analytics. He is also an investigator in the STARRS-LS Study of U.S. Army suicides. Professor Bossarte is the author of over 100 scientific publications.

Randy P. Auerbach, PhD, ABPP

An Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Depression at Columbia University. Dr. Auerbach’s research is committed to improving our understanding of depression and suicide. His research is multidisciplinary and utilizes a multimodal approach for assessment (e.g., laboratory-based experiments, passive sensor monitoring, electrophysiology, neuroimaging) to determine why depressive symptoms unfold, how self-injurious and suicidal behaviors develop, and what changes in the brain during treatment. As a whole, the research aims to better understand the putative mechanisms that may improve early identification of and treatment for a depression and suicidal behaviors. This work is funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation, the Dana Foundation: Clinical Neuroscience Research Grant, and several private foundations, and to date, it has resulted in over 150 published scientific papers and book chapters. Dr. Auerbach is the recipient of a number of awards including the David Shakow Early Career Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions in Clinical Psychology, the Richard Abidin Early Career Award, and the Theodore Blau Early Career Award.

Pim Cuijpers, PhD

Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands and director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Dissemination of Psychological Interventions in Amsterdam. He is specialized in conducting randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses on prevention and psychological treatments of common mental disorders across the life span. Much of his work is aimed at prevention of mental disorders, psychological treatments of depression and anxiety disorders, and Internet-delivered treatments. Professor Cuijpers has published more than 900 peer-reviewed papers, chapters, reports and professional publications, including more than 700 papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals. He is on the Thomson-Reuter Web of Science lists of the ‘highly cited researchers’ since the first edition of this list in 2014 and is the second most cited researcher in the world in the field of psychiatry and psychology.

Peter de Jonge, PhD

Chairman of the Department of Developmental Psychology and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Professor de Jonge is a clinical psychologist and psychometrician whose research focuses largely on patterns and determinants of the course of major depression and differential depression treatment response. He is the Principal Investigator of several major prospective clinical epidemiological studies that monitor depression course and differential treatment response. These studies have pioneered the use of new technologies to monitor the course of depression and evaluate the effects of targeted treatments in modifying this course. He is the author of over 250 scientific publications.

Jutta Joormann, PhD

Professor of Psychology at Yale University. Professor Joormann is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders and whose research focuses on modifiable psychobiological risk and protective factors for differential treatment response of these disorders. Her research features the creative use of multiple levels of assessment that combine patient self-reports with cognitive tasks, psychophysiological measures of stress reactivity and regulation, eye tracking, neuroendocrine assessments, genotyping, and brain imaging to develop textured multidimensional characterizations of the natural history and determinants of depression treatment response. She is the author of nearly 200 scientific publications.

Sing Lee, MD

Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the Hong Kong Mood Disorders Center at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Lee is a social and cultural psychiatrist whose research focuses largely on patient subjective experiences of illness and their effects on treatment progress. In addition to maintaining an active clinical practice, he is deeply involved in training primary care physicians in the recognition and treatment of common mental disorders and in the development and evaluation of collaborative care interventions. Based on this work, he is one of the most influential and widely-cited psychiatrists in Asia. Professor Lee is the author of over 300 scientific publications.

John McGrath, AM, MBBS, MD, PhD, FRANZCP, FAHMS

Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Queensland in Australia, the Director of the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, and the Niels Bohr Professor at the National Centre for Register-based Research, Aarhus University, Denmark. His research focuses on the intersection between risk factor epidemiology and developmental neurobiology and includes both clinical research with patients and research with animal models to explore candidate exposures. Professor McGrath is the recipient of a number of national and international awards for his research, most notably the Centenary Medal and elected membership into the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and the Order of Australia. He is the author of over 400 publications and one of Australia’s most highly-cited mental health researchers.

Maria Elena Medina-Mora, PhD

The Director of the National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz in Mexico. Her research focuses on epidemiological and psychosocial determinants of addictions and mental disorders and government policies for intervening to help people with these disorders. She is a member of both the Mexican Colegio Nacional (National Academy) and the National Academy of Medicine of the Mexican Academy of Science. A visionary leader on addiction and mental health policy, she has a long history of effectively engaging researchers, clinicians, policymakers and advocates, documenting the societal burden of addiction and mental disorders, and developing, implementing, and evaluating science-based interventions for these disorders. She is the author of over 400 scientific publications and one of the most highly-cited mental health policy researchers in Latin America.

Sally Merry, MB, ChB, MD, FRANZP, CCAP

A child and adolescent psychiatrist, the Cure Kids Duke Family Chair in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and the Head of the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland. Professor Merry has spent the last 20 years researching the development and implementation of effective therapies in child and adolescent mental health, including computerized and mobile phone-based interventions and has undertaken a number of Cochrane Collaboration meta-analyses. She led a team that developed and tested a computerized therapy in the form of an avatar-based fantasy game for young people with depression called SPARX. This effective therapy has been available as a national e-therapy service in New Zealand since 2014 and is identified as an evidence-based therapy in the NICE Guidelines. She has carried out a number of large clinical and prevention trials to find better ways of delivering psychological therapies for mental health for children and adolescents including trials on depression prevention, on psychological treatments in child and adolescent mental health services and in infant mental health services. She established and led a team to develop and test an ecosystem of digital therapies, HABITS (Health Advances through Behavioural Intervention Technologies) for young people as part of the National Science Challenge, a Better Start E Tipu E Rea. This work has included the development of online screening, web and native apps and chatbots to support emotional regulation in younger and older adolescents, and to address problems of self-harm and substance abuse. Professor Merry has also philanthropic funding through Cure Kids to develop and test digital therapies to support parents of younger children.

Andrew Nierenberg, MD

The Thomas P. Hackett, M.D. Endowed Chair of Psychiatry and Director of the Dauten Family Center for Bipolar Treatment Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Professor Nierenberg is a specialist in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders and has been listed in The Best Doctors in America for the treatment of these disorders ever since 1994. He is the recipient of many awards for his research and is the Principal Investigator of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Mood Network. His research focuses largely on the development of interventions to treat mood disorders and the comparative effectiveness of such interventions. He is the author of over 450 scientific publications and one of the most widely-cited psychiatric researchers in the world.

Matthew K. Nock, PhD

The Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology, Harvard College Professor, and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Professor Nock’s research is aimed at advancing the understanding of why people behave in ways that are harmful to themselves, with an emphasis on suicide and other forms of self-harm. His research is multi-disciplinary in nature and uses a range of methodological approaches to better understand how these behaviors develop and how to predict and prevent their occurrence. This work is funded by grants from NIH, the US Department of Defense and Army, and private foundations, has been published in over 250 scientific papers, and recognized through the receipt of career awards from the American Psychological Association, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and the American Association of Suicidology; and in 2011 he received a MacArthur Fellowship. At Harvard, Professor Nock teaches courses on statistics, research methods, self-destructive behaviors, developmental psychopathology, and cultural diversity—for which he has received teaching and mentoring awards including the Roslyn Abramson Teaching Award, the Petra Shattuck Prize, and the Lawrence H. Cohen Outstanding Mentor Award.

Vikram Patel, FMedSci, PhD

The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health and a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Joint Director of the Centre for Chronic Conditions and Injuries at the Public Health Foundation of India. He is also a founder of Sangath, a mental health NGO in Goa, India, focused on child development, adolescent health, and mental health that won the MacArthur Foundation International Prize for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2008. Professor Patel’s research focuses on developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions for the treatment of mental disorders in primary care settings using non-specialist and lay health workers. He is also actively involved in training and dissemination activities aimed at building capacity in global mental health and in communicating research evidence to diverse audiences in an effort to encourage policy actions based on this evidence. In 2015 he was listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He is the author of over 200 scientific publications.

Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD

James and Patricia Poitras Chair of Psychiatry, Chief Scientific Officer, and Chief of the Division of Depression and Anxiety Disorders at McLean Hospital, and a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Professor Ressler focuses on translational research that bridges molecular neurobiology in animal models with human genetic research on emotion, particularly fear and anxiety disorders. This work is aimed at identifying new ways to improve interventions. He is one of a handful of psychiatrists to have been selected as an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the author of over 250 scientific publications.

Stephen Schueller, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychological Science and Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Schueller is a clinical psychologist and mental health service researcher whose research focuses on using technology to expand the accessibility and availability of mental health services. This includes the development, evaluation, and implementation of web- and mobile-based interventions mostly for common mental health issues. He also serves as the Executive Director of One Mind PsyberGuide, a project that aims to empower consumers to make informed choices around digital mental health products. Dr. Schueller is a fellow in the NIMH, NIDA, and the VA-funded Implementation Research Institute (IRI) at the Washington University in St. Louis. He has received Rising Star Awards from the Association for Psychological Science and the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions.

Dan J. Stein, MD, PhD

Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health and Head of the Division of Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He is also Director of the South African Medical Research Council’s Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders. Professor Stein’s clinical work and research focus primarily on the psychobiology and treatment of anxiety disorders, traumatic stress disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. His research ranges from basic neuroscience through clinical investigations and trials and on to epidemiological and cross-cultural studies. He is particularly interested in integrative approaches to treatment in the context of low-resource settings. He is the author of over 200 scientific publications, including 30 books.

Murray Stein, MD, MPH, FRCPC

Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Family Medicine, and Public Health and Vice Chair for Clinical Research at the University of California San Diego. Professor Stein’s research interests are broad and include the neurobiology, epidemiology, and treatment of anxiety and traumatic stress disorders. He has carried out research on interventions for anxiety disorders in primary care, pharmacologic treatments for treatment-resistant anxiety disorders, functional neuroimaging, and genetic epidemiological studies of anxiety and trauma-related disorders. He is a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Depression & Anxiety, and a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee. He is the author of over 500 scientific publications and is one of the most widely-cited psychiatric researchers in the world.

Sir Graham Thornicroft, MD, PhD

Professor of Community Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, Director of King’s Improvement Science and King’s Health Partners, and Chair of Maudsley International. Professor Thornicroft was knighted in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours. His research focuses on the development of mental health policy. He has a special interest in designing and evaluating practical models to support primary care clinicians in treating people with mental, neurological, and substance use disorders. He is an expert in cost-effectiveness evaluations of mental health treatments, service user-led research, implementation science, and global mental health. He has authored over 500 publications, including over 30 books, and is one of the most highly-cited researchers in the world on global mental health.

John Torous, MD, MBI

A board certified psychiatrist and clinical informaticist who investigates and creates open-source digital technologies like smartphone apps to increase access to and quality of mental health. His work focuses on digital phenotyping, just-in-time adaptive interventions, and digital health ethics and equity. He directs the Division of Digital Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, where he teaches on digital mental health, runs a clinic using technology to augment care, and leads an active research group. He also chairs the American Psychiatric Association’s Health Information Technology committee and mental health app evaluation efforts. Dr. Torous is the editor of the open-access mental health technology journal JMIR Mental Health and web-editor of JAMA Psychiatry

Robert J. Ursano, MD

A Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland and the Founding Director of the USUHS Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Psychiatry, Interpersonal and Biological Processes. Professor Ursano’s research focuses on the development and evaluation of interventions for individuals exposed to traumatic experiences, with a special focus on psychological responses to terrorism, natural disasters, and war-related traumas. In 2014, Dr. Ursano and Dr. Matthew Friedman of the VA National Center for PTSD co-founded the Friedman-Leahy Brain Bank with support from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). This is the first human brain bank dedicated to post-traumatic stress disorder. Professor Ursano is the author of more than 300 scientific publications, including 8 books.

Tevfik Bedirhan Üstün, MD

A Professor of Psychiatry and Health Informatics at Koç University, School of Medicine in Istanbul, Turkey. Professor Üstün’s prior research has focused on detection and treatment of mental disorders in general medical settings, primary care applications of training and classification programs, and international epidemiological studies associated with evidence-based treatment. He was responsible for updating the World Health Organization Family of International Classifications, most notably the ICD-10 system. He is currently studying the development of clinical decision support and health informatics systems to increase the quality of care for patients with mental disorders and to customize treatment planning consistent with the approach being developed in the Precision Treatment of Mental Disorders Initiative. Professor Üstün is the author of more than 300 scientific reports.

Tyler J. VanderWeele, PhD

A Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Co-Director of the Initiative on Health, Religion and Spirituality, faculty affiliate of the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and Director of the Program on Integrative Knowledge and Human Flourishing at Harvard University. His research concerns methodology for distinguishing between association and causation in observational studies, and the use of statistical and counterfactual ideas to formalize and advance epidemiologic theory and methods. His empirical research spans psychiatric, perinatal, and social epidemiology; the science of happiness and flourishing; and the study of religion and health, including both religion and population health and the role of religion and spirituality in end-of-life care. He has published over 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is author of the book Explanation in Causal Inference.

Edward Watkins, PhD

A Professor of Experimental and Applied Clinical Psychology at the University of Exeter, UK and director and co-founder of the Mood Disorders Centre at the University of Exeter. His research is specialized in the development and evaluation of psychological treatments for the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression across a range of modalities (face-to-face; internet; mobile app); understanding the active ingredients of psychological treatments; trial design; experimental psychopathology research into cognitive-emotional processes underpinning depression and anxiety, in particular, worry, rumination, impaired autobiographical memory, cognitive biases; and a transdiagnostic approach to disorder. Professor Watkins has been principal /co- investigator on a number of important, large-scale trials of psychological treatments including of rumination-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness (PREVENT trial) and behavioral activation (COBRA, MooDFOOD). He is also the principal investigator on a European Commission Horizon 2020 funded study of mobile apps to promote well-being in young people and a NIMH-funded study of rumination-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy to prevent depressive relapse in adolescents. Professor Watkins has published more than 130 papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals and edited/authored 4 books. He was awarded the British Psychological Societies May Davidson Award in 2004 for contributions to clinical psychology and is an expert member of the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guideline Committee for the Treatment of Adult Depression.

Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, PhD

A Professor of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy and Head of both the Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy and the Center of Clinical Epidemiology and Longitudinal Studies at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany. He worked in Geneva with the World Health Organization to develop the ICD-10 classification system. Professor Wittchen’s research focuses on the etiology and treatment of anxiety, mood, and substance disorders, with a special focus on behavioral therapy research. He has conducted important research on the effects of exposure therapy in treating panic and phobia and is the Editor of the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research. He is the author of more than 800 scientific publications and is rated by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the most widely-cited psychologists in the world.