Potential Predictors of Suicide in Youth

Anjali Sankar received her PhD from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London in 2015. Her early research focused on the neural circuitry underlying core features in depression, and changes in the brain system following psychotherapeutic and pharmacological interventions. A long-standing goal of her research is to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of mood disorders in youth, and identify neural markers that can lead to early detection, identification of more effective pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatment strategies, and prediction and treatment of negative outcomes, importantly, suicide.

At present, she is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Mood Disorders Research Program (MDRP) at the Yale School of Medicine mentored by its Director and AIM Scientific Advisory Board Member, Dr. Hilary Blumberg. At the MDRP, Anjali receives expert training in the study of bipolar disorder and in multimodal neuroimaging research. The AIM postdoctoral fellowship will provide her with the unique opportunity to work with an international consortium, and take the lead on analyses that investigate potential predictors of suicide in youth and strategies to reduce them, with a focus on brain and symptom changes before and after psychotherapeutic and pharmacological interventions. As an AIM postdoctoral fellow, Anjali will also be examining the effects of a novel psychobehavioral intervention conducted at Yale that teaches and promotes healthy habits, such as regularization of sleep, activity and other daily rhythms, and regulation of emotions in adolescents and young adults with bipolar disorder. She will examine the effects of this intervention on symptoms, including emotion regulation difficulties, suicide ideation, and other suicide-related risk factors. This research would have the potential for tremendous benefits for youth with emotional dysregulation for whom new intervention approaches are much needed.