GMH Program Team
Tahilia Rebello, PhD
Dr. Rebello works jointly on the staffs of the Global Mental Health Program, as Research Scientist, and the World Health Organization (WHO), in the capacity of Project Coordinator for the Global Clinical Practice Network – an international network of over 10,000 health professionals established as part of the development of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). Dr. Rebello also provides scientific and logistical support to the Tohoku Theater Project, an initiative that uses theater as a means of broaching post-disaster mental health concerns and stigma among survivors of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan. Dr. Rebello holds a BSc in Physiology, from McGill University. She is trained as a neuroscientist, and completed her doctoral work in the field of developmental psychobiology and pharmacology at Columbia University. Her research focused on understanding the way in which early-life events, specifically those that impact the levels of serotonin in the brain, affect the development of brain regions implicated in anxiety and depression. Her transition from the basic sciences to population-level mental health, included an internship with WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, where she contributed to the 2011 Mental Health Atlas Project and suicide prevention initiatives. Dr. Rebello also established and served as Program Director for the health education division for a non-profit clinic in NYC, directed several women’s health initiatives and advocacy campaigns as part of the V-Day Movement, and developed and taught a foundational course for undergraduates, on the biology of affective disorders, at Columbia Medical Center.
Howard Andrews, PhD
Dr. Howard Andrews established and serves as director of the Data Coordinating Center, which in collaboration with the Biostatistics Department, provides comprehensive data management, statistical and data analytic services to the Center for Child Environmental Health, the Traumatic Brain Injury Data Coordinating Center, the Gertrude Sergievsky Center, the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, and over 30 federally funded research projects at the Mailman School, as well as other Columbia departments and affiliates. These projects include 10 clinical trials as well as a number of large-scale epidemiological studies. Dr. Andrews is an expert in the use of web-based technologies to gather, organize, and disseminate research information, and was leader of the technical team that developed Peristats, an on-line system user-friendly information system for accessing, charting, and mapping thousands of data elements related to birth and infants morbidity and mortality at the local, state and national levels.
Prudence Fisher, PhD
Dr. Prudence Fisher is a Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute (Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) and Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatric Social Work in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Fisher served as a Scientific Advisor for the ICD-11 meetings held at Columbia in March 2013 where she provided consultation and leadership on the overall issues of study design, methodology and analysis for the development of the ICD-11 field studies. Dr. Fisher’s expertise is on the development, validation and implementation of assessment methods for mental health conditions. Dr. Fisher played a critical role in the development of the DSM-5 as an advisor to two DSM Work Groups (Childhood and Adolescent Disorders and ADHD and Disruptive Disorders) and three other DSM-5 Study Groups (Diagnostic Assessment Instruments, Impairment and Disability, and Other Conditions that May be a Focus of Clinical Attention) and as the Principal Investigator of one of the DSM-5 Field Trials. Dr. Fisher is currently principal investigator on an NIMH funded grant that addresses the validity of current and proposed diagnostic categories and criteria for child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. . Dr. Fisher will continue to provide leadership on the design and implementation of the ICD-11 field studies.
Michael First, MD
Dr. First is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in the Columbia Department of Psychiatry, and he serves as Technical and Editorial Consultant on the ICD-11 revision. Dr. First has extensive experience with both the DSM and ICD design and conceptualization. In 2008, Dr. First was invited to conduct a complete comparison of DSM-IV and ICD-10. By 2009, thirty percent of his professional responsibilities were devoted to the ICD revision. Dr. First was co-principal investigator on the “Future of Psychiatric Diagnosis” conferences that developed research agendas for the then upcoming DSM-5 and ICD-11 revisions. Additionally, Dr. First has led the discussion of harmonization between the DSM and the ICD. He attends working group meetings, assists in the creation and editing of related material, including the conceptualization and template of content forms.
Bijan J. Khaksari, BA
Bijan Khaksari is a research assistant for the Global Mental Health Program. His keen interest in neuroscience began while pursuing his undergraduate studies at the George Washington University, and his commitment to mental health in particular was inspired after working as a field ambassador at the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts. Bijan continues to pursue deeper knowledge about the physiology of the brain in the context of mental health as a Master of Public Health student at Columbia’s Mailman school, based in the epidemiology department, where he will obtain a certificate in molecular epidemiology. His research focuses on optimizing the advocacy and delivery of evidence-based psychopharmaceutic treatment at the global scale.
Brian Neff, MALD
Brian Neff works in various research and program development capacities at the Global Mental Health Program as a Research Consultant. He earned a BA in history from Yale and an MA in international affairs (MALD) from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, where his thesis examined the efficacy of culturally-sensitive psychosocial interventions in the population of Sudanese displaced. Brian holds a postgraduate certificate from the Harvard Program on Refugee Trauma and has extensive expertise in international conflict resolution, human rights, and mental health in complex emergencies.
In a career focused on strengthening high-impact social enterprises, Brian has served in strategic consultant or senior leadership capacities at a wide range of international NGOs, media companies, and nonprofit organizations, including The United Nations Mission in Sudan, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth, Adopt Change, the Newsweek Daily Beast Company, Tribeca Film Festival, the New York City Housing Authority, and New York Insight. From 2011-13, he was US Chief Executive of London-based global conflict resolution organization Peace Direct, and from 2014-15 he was Chief Operating Officer of arts outreach nonprofit Sing for Hope.
Currently pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology at The City College of New York (CUNY Graduate Center), Brian has contributed to psychology research at Columbia’s Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience Lab as well as Mount Sinai’s Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program. An accomplished tenor and pianist with performance credits that include The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, he is particularly dedicated to exploring ways in which the arts can be used to reduce stigma around mental illness and promote healing. Brian worked for four years as a television news producer for Barbara Walters and others (ABC News, CNBC) before entering the social sector.
Kelsey Clayman, BA
Kelsey Clayman is the Program Coordinator for the Global Mental Health Program. She earned her BA in Neurobiology from Harvard University. During her undergraduate education, Kelsey researched novel neuroimaging techniques at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine and brain cancer genetics at Harvard Medical School. Following graduation, she began work at the University of Chicago studying predictive and preventive factors for alcohol addiction. Her research interests include the intersection of neurobiology and mental health on a local and global scale, utilizing scientific discovery to understand, inform, and reduce the stigma of mental illness worldwide. Kelsey intends to pursue an MD/MPH degree in the future.
Ian Rodgers, BA
Ian Rodgers is a Master of Public Health candidate at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He is currently studying epidemiology, with a certificate in Public Health and Humanitarian Assistance. Ian earned his BA in Biology from the University of San Diego. After graduating, he spent two years as an international Jesuit Volunteer in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia, working in education. His time in the FSM led him to pursue his MPH, and he plans to focus on global mental health throughout his studies at the Mailman School. His research interests lie in studying suicide in young adults, and using that research to inform culturally sensitive interventions in the context of Pacific Island culture and other low-resource settings throughout the world. Ian recently joined the team as a research assistant.