School of Medicine

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  • Aysha Abraibesh

    Aysha Abraibesh

    Social Science Research Professional, Psych/Public Mental Health & Population Sciences

    Bio Aysha Abraibesh, MPA is a clinical research coordinator at the Center for Behavioral Health Services and Implementation Research (CBHSIR). The program, led by Dr. Mark McGovern, is located within the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Aysha supports several research studies related to the implementation and sustainment of Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) for Opioid-Use Disorder (OUD) in California and nation-wide.

    Aysha earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (2012) and Master’s in Public Administration (2013) both from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. She gained research experience working in a Social Psychology research lab while at Clark University and later held a research assistantship in the Department of Social and Community Psychology at Portland State University (Portland, Oregon). She went on to work at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon supporting various studies related to behavioral and mental health issues before relocating to the Bay Area.

  • Daniel Arthur Abrams

    Daniel Arthur Abrams

    Instructor, Psych/Major Laboratories and Clinical & Translational Neurosciences Incubator

    Bio Speech is a critical communication signal for the development of social skills and language function. Autism spectrum disorders affect 1 in 88 school-age children and are characterized by deficits in social communication and language skills, and many of these individuals also experience speech perception difficulties. My primary research goals are to understand the brain bases of social communication and language impairments in children with ASD, and to describe neural changes associated with remediation of these behavioral deficits. The theoretical framework that motivates my work is that impaired perception and neural decoding of speech impact social skill and language development in many children with ASD. Moreover, I believe that a grasp of these relationships is central to understanding the etiology of these disorders and will provide insight into their remediation.

    I have initiated a program of research to further our understanding of auditory brain function serving key elements of speech perception in children with ASD. The first study produced by this program of research was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and shows that children with ASD have weak brain connectivity between voice-selective regions of cortex and the distributed reward circuit and amygdala. Moreover, the strength of these speech-reward brain connections predicts social communication abilities in these children. These results provide novel support for the hypothesis that deficits in representing the reward value of social stimuli, including speech, impede children with ASD from actively engaging with these stimuli and consequently impair social skill development. My future research will leverage this finding by probing this aberrant brain circuit in detailed explorations of speech perception in children with ASD. An important component of my future research is to explore neural plasticity associated with training programs designed to ameliorate social communication deficits in children with ASD, with a focus on the speech-reward brain circuit identified in my recent publication. In addition to my interest in studying social communication and language impairments in children with ASD, my research program also includes investigating the relationship between speech perception impairments and phonological and reading difficulties in children with reading disorders (RD). This work is a continuation of my dissertation work, which examined neural decoding of temporal features in speech in children with RD.

  • Mehret Assefa

    Mehret Assefa

    Program Manager, Psych/Public Mental Health & Population Sciences

    Bio Mehret Assefa, PhD, MPH is the Program Manager for the Center for Behavioral Health Services and Implementation Research (CBHSIR) in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. The CBHSIR is based in the Division of Public Mental Health and Population Sciences. Ongoing research projects at CBHSIR include: integrated behavioral health services for persons with co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders; behavioral health integration in primary care; medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorders; and other implementation research projects.

    Dr. Assefa is an epidemiologist by training and has both international and domestic public health research experience in health services research with a focus on health disparities. Prior to Stanford, Dr. Assefa was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health where she was the lead investigator for a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) funded supplement grant to evaluate barriers and facilitators to seeking/accessing formal and informal health services, and health beliefs and traditional practices among resettled Somali Bantu and Bhutanese refugees.

    Currently, Dr. Assefa’s research is focused on implementation science, integrated behavioral health services for persons with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, and advancing the use of organizational measures. These measures include: measures of integrated service capacity, such as the Dual Diagnosis Capability in Addiction Treatment (DDCAT) and the Behavioral Health Integration in Medical Care (BHIMC); and the measure of contextual barriers and facilitators to the implementation processes, the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) Index.