For a current list of publications by BIRC faculty, visit Publications.
Clint Kilts, PhD.
Director Brain Imaging Research Center
Dr. Kilts received his postgraduate training in psychopharmacology and neurochemistry in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Michigan State University. He continued his training in neuropharmacology, analytical neurochemistry, and human psychopharmacology in the Biological Sciences Research Center at the University of North Carolina. He subsequently joined the faculties of the Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at Duke University where he served as Director of the Clinical Psychopharmacology Laboratory. In 1992, Dr. Kilts joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Emory University School of Medicine. At Emory, he served as the Interim Director of the Center for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and, in 2000, became the first Vice Chair for Research for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. In 2009, he joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He is the founding Director of the Brain Imaging Research Center (BIRC) in the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute (PRI) and an Associate Director of the PRI. He has a long record of NIH-funded research, most recently in the use of in vivo brain functional, molecular and connectivity imaging to explore the neural network processing basis of human behavior. With a focus on drug abuse and addiction, he has a clinical research focus on the use of neuroimaging technology to define the brain basis of psychiatric disorders and their treatment. Additional academic accomplishments relate to organizational research planning, organization, and mentoring. His current goals as Director of the BIRC are to extend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based technology and human neuroscience to areas of clinical problem solving in psychiatry and related disciplines within the PRI and at UAMS.
G. Andrew James, PhD.
Dr. Andrew James received bachelor degrees in Chemistry and Applied Psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His graduate studies introduced him to functional neuroimaging, which perfectly fit his dual interests in analytical spectroscopy and human cognition. He received his doctorate in Neuroscience from the University of Florida, where he used functional MRI to model age-related changes in networks governing motor learning. In 2006, he accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Xiaoping Hu of Emory University, where he pursued a variety of methodologically challenging neuroimaging projects such as taste perception of artificial sweeteners, motor network reorganization following stroke, and modeling individual differences in depressed patients’ emotion-regulating networks. In 2009, Dr. James joined the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). As an assistant professor in the Brain Imaging Research Center (BIRC), he is establishing the Cognitive Connectome to explore how the brain’s neural networks encode individual variability in personality and cognition. By understanding how the healthy brain encodes cognition, he seeks to translate this technology into patient care and better inform clinical decision making.
Joshua Cisler, PhD.
Dr. Cisler is an Assistant Professor in the Psychiatric Research Institute (PRI) and conducts functional neuroimaging research in the Brain Imaging Research Center. He is also a member of the Psychology Internship Training Committee and provides outpatient therapy within the PRI’s Walker Family Clinic. He received a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 2010. His research at that time focused on emotional and cognitive mechanisms that mediate anxiety disorders. He completed a clinical internship at the Medical University of South Carolina through the National Crime Victim Research and Treatment Center, where his research focused on understanding risk factors for psychopathology following trauma, with a particular focus on assaultive events (e.g., physical and sexual assault). He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Brain Imaging Research Center, where he received training in fMRI methodology and advanced computational approaches to imaging analysis. His research focuses on identifying disruptions at the neural network level of analysis that mediate risk for mental health disorders following assaultive violence exposure and understanding how treatment modifies functioning within these neural networks. His clinical expertise is in adult anxiety disorders, with a particular emphasis on PTSD.
Ricardo Cáceda, MD, PhD.
Dr. Cáceda went to medical school in Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru where he was heavily involved in research of the effects of chronic hypoxia in the brain energetics in humans and rodents. Afterwards he moved to Atlanta where he received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Emory University studying the role of the neuropeptide neurotensin in schizophrenia and in the mechanism of action of antipsychotic drugs. During residency at Emory, Dr. Cáceda shifted his research focus and received training in brain imaging applied to the study of moral reasoning and social decision making during uncertain conditions. Dr. Cáceda’s research interests focus on the use of neurobiology of social decision making with emphasis on mood disorders and suicide. Suicide is a prime example of flawed decision making that is ultimately detrimental to the individual. In clinical practice, it is still singularly difficult to predict who is going to commit suicide and establish adequate interventions. Current research and clinical efforts include exploration of the neurobiology of impulsive choice and pain processing in suicidal behavior and ideation, as well as implementation and evaluation of interventions for recent suicide attempters and secondary prevention.
Cindy Mosley, BBA
Cindy received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She has worked with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences since 1980. In 1987, she joined the Department of Psychiatry and worked with Dr. G. Richard Smith until 2004. After leaving the workforce for 5 years, Ms. Mosley returned to work as the Administrator with the Department of Psychiatry’s Brain Imaging Research Center and the Division of Health Services Research. Ms. Mosley has worked in information technology, administration and research. Over the years, Ms. Mosley has been involved in all aspects of extramural funding. She has participated in the preparation and submission of grant applications; management of projects; development of databases and analysis of data; preparation of manuscripts and every other phase of research. When asked about her work in Psychiatry she responded, “I just love knowing that the work I do everyday could help to improve someone else’s life sometime in the future.” In her spare time, Cindy loves to spend time on the lake with her friends and family.
Jonathan Young, M.A.
Jonathan majored in Psychology at Henderson State University, graduating in 2003. In 2005, he received a graduate degree in Applied Psychology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. At UALR, he studied how children with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder performed on behavioral tasks, including different schedules of reinforcement. After graduate school, he worked briefly with adults and children with traumatic brain injuries at a Neurorehabilitation Center. In 2006, Jonathan joined the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences where he coordinated studies involving the treatment of adults and adolescents with drug addictions. In 2010, he joined the Brain Imaging Research Center at UAMS as their project coordinator and he currently works on the development and implementation of multiple research studies.
Sonet Smitherman, M.S.
Sonet joined the Brain Imaging Research Center in 2011 after graduating with her BA in psychology from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. She currently serves as Research and MRI Coordinator for the BIRC. Her duties include coordination of the adolescent and adult female trauma studies; data collection through both written forms and MRI scanning; as well regulatory document preparation and submission, and maintenance and paradigm testing on the scanner. Her undergraduate experience prepared her well for her responsibilities, as she was able to conduct her own research which she presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in 2008 and the Arkansas Symposium for Psychology Students in 2009. She additionally served as one of four student coordinators when Hendrix hosted ASPS in 2010. She recently finished a Master’s in Clinical and Translational Sciences from the UAMS Graduate School. She looks forward to applying what she learns in her graduate work to her job with the BIRC.
Lisa Brents, PhD.
Dr. Lisa Brents received bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry from Henderson State University in 2008 before joining the UAMS Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology as a graduate student. In her doctoral studies, she investigated the pharmacology of two emerging drugs of abuse that are often found in “synthetic cannabis,” JWH-018 and JWH-073, and have marijuana-like effects when smoked, inhaled or ingested. Dr. Brents joined the BIRC as a NIDA T32 Postdoctoral Fellow soon after defending her doctoral thesis in January 2013. Her primary research interest involves understanding the determinants of maternal drug use and how prenatal and postpartum drug abuse and addiction affect maternal behavior and offspring well-being. Along these lines, Dr. Brents has a particular interest in understanding how the endocannabinoid system is involved in normative and altered motivational drives, such as maternal behavior, addictions and obesity.
Tonisha Kearney-Ramos, PhD.
Dr. Kearney-Ramos recently finished her PhD in the Interdisciplanry Biomedical Sciences program. Her research focused on the neural representations of individual differences in working memory in a control population. She has accepted a Postdoctoral Fellowship working at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC.
Scott Steele, PhD.
Dr. Steele completed his PhD in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences program in 2014. Following successful defense of his dissertation, Dr. Steel returned to the College of Medicine at UAMS to continue pursuing his career in medicine.
Amanda Elton, PhD.
Dr. Elton completed her PhD in the Clinical Research Track of the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences program in 2012. Her research with the BIRC focused on the human neuroscience of risk factors for drug abuse and addiction, specifically the impact of childhood adversity and acute stress on the neural representation of reactivity to stress and conditioned drug cues and of decision making under risk and executive inhibitory control. She accepted a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Biomedical Research Imaging Center at the University of North Carolina in 2012.
Ashley Kennedy, PhD.
Dr. Kennedy completed her PhD. in Molecular and Systems Pharmacology from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 2011. Shortly before completing her PhD, Ashley relocated with her mentor, Dr. Kilts, to UAMS. Her research with the BIRC focused on the use of a cognitive enhancer (D-cycloserine) to treat cocaine addiction, specifically the effect of the cognitive enhancer on impulsivity and cognitive control. Dr. Kennedy holds a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.