About Gray Matters
Gray Matters at Columbia is a research fund within the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons that provides support for outstanding scientists dedicated to searching for the causes and cures of brain disorders. The luncheon is the major annual fundraising event for Columbia Psychiatry, supporting research and treatment through the Chairman’s initiatives for the department. Since its inception in 2007, the luncheon has raised funds to support chosen fellows who benefit from the extensive expertise of a peerless team of talented scientists that includes two Nobel laureates who serve as their teachers and mentors. Gray Matters is organized and run by a dedicated volunteer committee and is a beacon of hope to all who struggle with brain disorders.
2020 - 2021 Gray Matters Fellows
Jermaine D. Jones, PhD
Associate Professor of Clinical Neurobiology (in Psychiatry)
Jermaine D. Jones received his PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from American University, where his research focused on using genetic knockout and pharmacological manipulation to understand the abuse potential of cocaine. He completed his post-doctoral fellowship with Columbia’s Division on Substance Use Disorders, researching the pharmacological and neurobiological drivers of opioid misuse in humans. As an Assistant and Associate Professor, Dr. Jones’ area of focus has been to try and better understand how genetic factors influence the risk of developing substance use disorders, and the effectiveness of medications to treat drug addiction. More recently, his research has begun to focus on community-based efforts to reduce the harms associated with drug use.
Christine Rael, PhD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry)
Christine Rael, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) in the Gender, Sexuality, and Health Area. Her research focuses on bridging the gap between clinical trials efficacy and real-world effectiveness of HIV prevention products, particularly in transgender women. Currently, she is the PI of a K01 Award focused on understanding behavioral factors that influence use of long-acting biomedical HIV prevention among transgender women in New York City. She aims to improve acceptability, feasibility, and adherence of these products by developing and testing user-centered delivery mechanisms, mHealth adherence interventions, and developing partnerships between transgender end-users and front line clinicians (e.g., nurses). Dr. Rael is a member of the HIV Center’s Biobehavioral Core, and author on over 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts; she is the sociobehavioral sciences editor of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses. Dr. Rael received her PhD in 2015 from the University of Colorado-Denver and is a Fulbright scholar (2013).
Blair Uniacke, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry
Blair Uniacke, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Uniacke graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, and received her MD from the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. She continued at Columbia for her residency training in Psychiatry, where she also served as Chief Resident. Following residency, Dr. Uniacke completed a National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Fellowship in the Biobehavioral Disturbances of Eating Disorders at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/New York State Psychiatric Institute under the mentorship of Dr. Joanna Steinglass. Dr. Uniacke’s research focuses on understanding the neurocognitive processes underlying maladaptive eating behavior in Anorexia Nervosa. She examines these processes through a neurodevelopmental lens, with the aim of better understanding how the maturing dopamine system contributes to reward-seeking and avoidance in Anorexia Nervosa, and to the divergence between illness remission and persistence. Dr. Uniacke’s research has been supported by a Hilda and Preston Davis Fellowship in Eating Disorders, a Leon Levy Fellowship in Neuroscience and a Janssen Fellowship in Translational Neuroscience.