Training Program
in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities


Program Directors

Grinspan Lab

Grinspan Lab: Oligodendrocytes making myelin

Amelia J. Eisch, PhD is Professor of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine at CHOP and the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania and serves as Co-Principal Investigator/Program Director of the training program. Dr. Eisch was previously the Director of a NIDA training program at UT Southwestern from 2008-2016. Her research focuses on how developmental and adult neurogenesis in particular and dentate gyrus plasticity in general contribute to abnormal functioning with relevance to developmental, psychiatric, and neurological disorders.

Eric D. Marsh, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at CHOP and the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania and serves as Co-Principal Investigator/Program Director of the training program. Dr. Marsh is also a Co-Director of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the Neuroimaging and Neurocircuitry Core with a focus on animal and human EEG. He is also the Clinical Director of the Penn Orphan Disease Center, Director of the Neurogenetics Clinic at CHOP, and Director of the Neuroscience Research Affinity Group, an umbrella organization for the neuroscientists at CHOP. His research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that lead to the development of epilepsy and intellectual disability in the developing and immature brain.

Administrative Manager

Robinson Lab

Robinson Lab: An astrocyte situated along a blood vessel in a hippocampal organotypic culture transfected with plasmids encoding a membrane-targeted red fluorescent protein and a green florescent protein targeted to mitochondria.

Kristen Pidgeon, MS works closely with the Program Directors and provides administrative oversight for the training program as well as the IDDRC. She coordinates all aspects of the training program including: solicitation of applications for open slots, coordination of the reviews of applications, and distribution of letters to applicants regarding funding selections; submission of trainees’ appointments, reappointments, and terminations in xTrain; financial management including budget drafts, revisions, and reconciliation in collaboration with the Research Business Administrator; collecting annual progress reports from trainees; assembly and submission of competitive and non-competitive renewals to NINDS; scheduling meetings for the Steering Committee and Internal and External Advisory Boards. She is also responsible for maintaining files for each program applicant as well as coordinating the periodic surveys of trainees in order to track key metrics used for reporting both internally and to the NINDS. Ms. Pidgeon coordinates and maintains the schedules for the IDDRC Seminar Series, Neuroscience Chalk Talks, Neuroscience Grants Club, and the Critical Analysis of Techniques in IDD Research workshop.

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee consists of Drs. Stewart Anderson, MD, Naiara Aquiz Lopez, PhD, Amelia Eisch, PhD, Ethan Goldberg, MD, PhD, Judith Grinspan, PhD, Matthew Kayser, MD/PhD, David Lynch, MD/PhD, Eric Marsh, MD/PhD, and Robert Schultz, PhD.. This committee makes all decisions related to the training program, including designing the training program, making modifications, selecting new mentors, reviewing and voting on applications for appointment, evaluating yearly progress reports from trainees, selecting outside consultants to review the program, resolving any conflicts that may arise, and responding to program feedback (from trainees, external advisory committee members, surveys, etc.).

Internal and External Advisory Boards

Schultz Lab

Schultz Lab: Figure showing regions of CBF differences seen in temporal lobe between children with autism and controls measured using ASL perfusion MRI.

Responsibility for oversight of the training program will rest in part with Internal and External Advisory Boards. The IAB consists of two Penn faculty members who bring unique experience and perspective to the table with long-standing interests and administrative experience with postdoctoral training. Maja Bućan, PhD is a Prof. of Genetics, Co-Director of Penn’s Autism Spectrum Program of Excellence, and Associate Dean for Penn Postdoctoral Research Training. Allison Willis, MD is an Assoc Prof of Neurology, a Faculty Scholar at several Penn Centers (Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Aging, Pharmacoepidemiology Research and Training), a Senior Scholar at Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, and Co-Director, of Penn’s Resource Center for Minority Aging Research. As supported by their provided biographical sketches and letters of support, these two individuals will be an invaluable sounding board, including on issues of programmatic planning, transitioning clinicians to research after completion of their clinical training, responsible conduct in research training, and diversity initiatives.

The EAB consists of 4 investigators known nation-wide for their NDD research and their commitment to training and mentor excellence. Erika Augustine, MD MS is Associate Chief Science Officer and Director of the Clinical Trials Unit, Dept of Neurology and Neurogenetics and the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Depts of Neurology and Pediatrics and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Madison Berl, PhD is Associate Prof, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University, Director of Research, Div of Neuropsychology at Children’s National Medical Center, a Pediatric Neuropsychologist in the Epilepsy program at Children’s National Medical Center, and Associate T32 Director for the District of Columbia Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. Benjamin Philpot, PhD is the Kenan Professor of Cell biology and physiology at the University of North Carolina and Assoc Director of the UNC Neuroscience Center. Craig Powell, MD, PhD is Director of the Civitan International Research Center and Chair of the Dept of Neurobiology at University Alabama Birmingham.