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Cecilia Sousa Pearson, B.S.

Cecilia completed her Bachelors in Neuroscience at Union College in Schenectady, NY. After graduating in the Spring of 2020, she moved to Boston, MA to join the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s Hospital Pediatric Neuro-Oncology research team. There, she spent two years running their research biobank and working on a number of clinical trials. After coming to realize she wanted to pursue a career in psychology and mental health counseling, she came to work with the PRIME Lab in the summer of 2022 as a Research Coordinator on the ProNET and Long-Term Follow Up studies.

Cecilia moved to North Carolina with her husband, Dan, and Labrador retriever, Buddy, after living in the New England area for her entire life. In terms of her career path, she plans to earn her master’s degree in a field such as social work, mental health counseling, or public health within the near future while continuing to work in research and then, hopefully, pursue her doctorate later on in life. Currently, Cecilia works as a Research Specialist with UNC’s Center for Women’s Mood Disorders.

Jenna Barbee, B.A.

Jenna was a part of the PRIME Research Program from 2015 to 2022. She joined the UNC Department of Psychiatry in January of 2015, after receiving her bachelor’s in Psychology and Cultural Anthropology from Duke University. She worked as the manager of the PRIME Research Program, tasked with coordinating studies such as the ProNET study, and the data manager for the Early Psychosis Intervention Advisors of North Carolina. Jenna now works as a Research Specialist in the Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center of UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Karen Graham, MD

Karen Graham, MDDr. Graham’s expertise is in the areas of early identification and treatment of psychotic illnesses, and her clinical work, research and teaching all focus on this. Psychotic disorders are common, often debilitating, illnesses. Her belief is that with early recognition and appropriate intervention the degree of disability can be substantially lessened. Complimenting her clinical work as psychiatrist with Outreach And Support Intervention Services (OASIS), a multidisciplinary team program treating those at risk for psychosis and those in the early years, is research centering on early recognition of at risk individuals. Currently she is a co-investigator on the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study, a large multisite observational study investigating predictors of conversion to psychosis in those at risk for developing psychotic illness. She is also involved in studies of the mechanism of weight gain with antipsychotics and interventions to curb this. Recently she has completed an investigation of the efficacy of a cognitive remediation program to aid those with schizophrenia and significant problems with cognition.

Kees Frelinger, B.A.

Kees worked with the PRIME Research Program from 2009-2019. He joined the UNC Department of Psychiatry after working at Central Regional Hospital in Butner, NC, for two years after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill with his BA in Psychology. He is the former study coordinator of studies such as the GeneS study and served as the lab manager for the NAPLS 3 study.

Dylan Grewen, MFA, CPT

Dylan worked with the Perkins lab from Jan 2015 through Jan 2019 as the project manager and study coordinator of the NAPLS 3 study. He now works as a Regulatory Coordinator at the Duke Office of Clinical Research.

Nina Fierro, MSW, LCSW

Nina Fierro worked with the UNC Department of Psychiatry as a Research Instructor from July of 2014 through 2018. Her prior work includes hospital social work, outpatient mental health care and teaching behavior modification for weight loss. Nina worked on the research teams for the DUP: Pathways to Care and NAPLS3 studies and co-runs a health and wellness class, STRIDE, at the OASIS Clinic. She was also instrumental in the implementation of Horyzons.

Andrea Pelletier-Baldelli, B.A.
Andrea graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2007 after receiving bachelor degrees in English and Psychology. After spending one year at Duke University working with children and adolescents suffering from trauma and substance abuse, she made her way back to UNC to work with individuals at high-risk for the development of psychosis. She is the former study coordinator for several of the PRIME Program research studies. Under the mentorship of Dr. Diana Perkins and Dr. Penn, Andrea spent three years coordinating and being involved in multiple research projects investigating the etiology and treatment of the prodromal period of schizophrenia. In 2011, Andrea left North Carolina to attend the University of Colorado Boulder to work with Dr. Vijay Mittal and pursue a dual Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience. Currently, Andrea’s interests focus on understanding social processes in individuals at risk for psychosis, with a particular emphasis on using neuroimaging modalities. In her free time, Andrea likes to read, go wine tasting, and take full advantage of sunny Colorado through hiking, running, and camping.

Joanna Regan, MD, MPH, FAAP
Joanna was a study coordinator from 1996-2000 and worked on numerous pharmaceutical and basic science studies, such as the First Episode Study and stress response study. She earned a B.S. in Psychology in 1996, her MD in 2004 and MPH in 2005 all from UNC, and attended residency in Pediatrics at ECU, graduating in 2008. She worked for a brief time in rural eastern NC as a pediatrician, then accepted a position at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta in 2009. She worked for 5 years in the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch with a focus on preventing Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other rickettsial diseases. She now works in the Quarantine and Border Health Services Branch, working to prevent the spread through travel of diseases of public health concern (ex: MERS-CoV, Ebola, etc.).

Elizabeth Cook Thomas, PhD

Liz is a former study coordinator for several of the PRIME Program Research studies. She also helped coordinate the Graduated Recovery Intervention Program (GRIP) randomized trial for young adults with first episode psychosis. She obtained her B.A. in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She completed her internship at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. She is now a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow within the Aaron T. Beck Psychopathology Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Broadly, Liz’s research interests include using longitudinal and mediation/moderation models to better understand how and why people recover, developing and evaluating novel interventions for individuals with SMI, and studying how consumer-provided services foster engagement and recovery.