After graduating from the INI’s Master of Science in Neuroimaging and Informatics (NIIN) program, Akul Sharma (’18) began working as a neuroimaging data analyst at the University of California Irvine’s Bio-behavioral Research on Adolescent Development (BRoAD) Lab. Akul is the primary MRI operator and imaging data analyst for two studies, both funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health. One involves studying the effects of childhood maltreatment on neurocircuitry in adolescent depression; the other explores ways to prevent adolescent risk-taking behaviors in African American youth.
Since graduation, Akul has published a number of abstracts, including presentations on adolescent depression and other topics at the annual meetings of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Looking forward, he plans to pursue a doctoral degree at the intersection of neuroimaging, psychiatry and informatics. Specifically, Akul hopes to use neuroimaging and neurocognitive measures to study emotional and cognitive dysfunction.
“The goal of my research is to increase our understanding of the existing neural models of mood disorders,” he says. “This can potentially improve clinical practice by enhancing biomarkers, treatment guidelines and algorithms.”
Below, Akul presented "White Matter Changes in Fronto-Limbic Pathways in Adolescent Depression" at the Society of Biological Psychiatry Annual Meeting. (Chicago, IL, May 2019)