Mary L. Phillips, MD, MD (CANTAB)

Professor, Psychiatry


Suite 305 Loeffler Bldg., 121 Meyron Avenue
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MD, Cambridge University, UK (1989)
MD, (Cantab) Cambridge University, UK (2000)


Identifying neural circuitry problems that underlie abnormal emotion processing in adults and youth with mood disorders.

Research Summary

Through my research, my goals are to 1. Identify specific structural, white matter, and functional abnormalities in these neural circuitries that may distinguish different types of depressive illness, including bipolar and recurrent unipolar depression; 2. Identify specific structural, white matter, and functional abnormalities in these neural circuitries that are associated with different symptom profiles and dimensions, including anhedonia and, more recently, sensation seeking, across individuals with different mood disorders; 3. Identify structural and functional abnormalities in these neural circuitries in youth at future risk of major psychiatric disorders; 4. Identify peripheral measures of lipid oxidative stress that are associated with brain white matter abnormalities in individuals across the mood disorder spectrum, and across the mood-psychotic disorders spectrum; 5. Using pattern recognition techniques to identify individual-level patterns of functioning and structure in larger-scale neural circuitry that may help classify individuals, case by case, into diagnostic groups, or along a dimension of pathology, that in turn can help predict future functional outcomes; 6. Examining the contribution of genetic variation to functional and structural abnormalities in the above neural circuitries in individuals with mood and psychotic disorders, and in youth at future risk of these disorders; and 7. In collaboration with basic neuroscientists, to identify how animal models may inform understanding of pathophysiologic processes underlying major mood and psychotic disorders.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program



Bebko, G., Bertocci, M.A., Fournier, J.C., Hinze, A.K., Bonar, L., Almeida, J.R.C., Perlman, S.B., Versace, A., Schirda, C., Travis, M., Gill, M.K., Demeter, C., Diwadkar, V.A., Ciuffetelli, G., Rodriguez, E., Olino, T., Forbes, E., Sunshine, J.L., Holland, S.K., Kowatch, R.A., Birmaher, B., Axelson, D., Horwitz, S.M., Arnold, L.E., Fristad, M.A., Youngstrom, E.A., Findling, R.L. and Phillips, M.L. Parsing dimensional versus diagnostic category-related patterns of reward circuitry function in behaviourally and emotionally dysregulated youth in the Longitudinal Assessment of Manic Symptoms (LAMS) study. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online November 27. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.2870, 2013. 

Caseras, X., Lawrence, N.S., Murphy, K., Wise, R.G. and Phillips, M.L. Ventral striatum activity in response to reward: differences between bipolar I and II disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry. 1;170 (5):533-41. [PMID: 23558337] 2013. 

Versace, A., Andreazza, A.C., Young, T.L., Fournier, J.C., Almeida, J.R.C., Stiffler, R.S., Lockovich, J.C., Aslam, H.A., Pollock, M.H., Park, H., Nimgaonkar, V.L., Kupfer, D.J. and Phillips, M.L. Elevated serum measures of lipid peroxidation and abnormal prefrontal white matter in euthymic bipolar adults: toward peripheral markers of bipolar disorder. Molecular Psychiatry. doi: 10.1038/mp.188 [PMCID:PMC3640681] 2012. 

Moses-Kolko, E., Perlman, S., Wisner, K.L., James, J., Saul, T. and Phillips, M.L. Abnormally reduced dorsomedial prefrontal cortical activity and effective connectivity with amygdala in response to negative emotional faces in postpartum depression. Am J Psychiatry 167(11): 1373-1380. [PMCID: PMC3293151] 2010 

Versace, A., Almeida, J.R., Hassel, S., Walsh, N.D., Novelli, M., Klein, C.R., Kupfer, D.J. and Phillips, M.L. Elevated left and reduced right orbitomedial prefrontal fractional anisotropy in adults with bipolar disorder revealed by tract-based spatial statistics. Arch Gen Psychiatry 65(9): 1041-1052, 2008. [PMCID: PMC2730162]