Sepideh Shokouhi, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Overview of Interests
Dr. Shokouhi's research program focuses on developing novel molecular, functional, and structural neuroimaging techniques and data analysis strategies to understand the biological basis of cognitive, behavioral, neurodegenerative, mood, and developmental disorders. She recently established a Trans-institutional Program Initiative (TIPS), funded by the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, which enabled the production of a vesicular cholinergic PET radiotracer at VUMC. The translational and multi-modal (PET, fMRI, structural MRI, cognitive test) nature of this pilot study is expected to leverage future interdisciplinary collaborations across VU, VUMC, and VKC investigators by providing a cholinergic biomarker for a wide range of neurological and mental disorders that may be associated with cholinergic deficits, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), certain substance abuse disorders, and schizophrenia. Dr. Shokouhi's specific interest is to develop a new research program that utilizes these novel imaging tools in Down syndrome (DS). A key challenge to adults with DS as they age is an increased risk for cognitive decline, dementia, and AD. While a consistent feature of aging in DS is the progressive accumulation of AD brain pathologies, there is little knowledge about the alterations in the cholinergic neurotransmission system in DS.