Recruited Faculty

Uma Rao, M.D.

Dr. Uma Rao completed her Child and Adolescent Psychiatry studies at SUNY at Stony Brook, N.Y., in 1990.  She was then appointed Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh (1992-1995), before moving to the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA Medical School (1995-2003) and finally to UT Southwest Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, where she attained the rank of professor and  was designated the Sara M. and Charles E. Sealy Chair in Child Psychiatry (2003-2010).  Dr. Rao has more than 20 years of clinical and research experience in child and adolescent psychiatry.  Her research is focused on the onset and clinical course of mood and addictive disorders in adolescents, involving the neurobiological (sleep, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and neuroimaging) and psychosocial (including temperamental, cognitive, and environmental) processes.  She has also examined developmental and ethnic influences on the neurobiological systems, as well as translational intervention studies, related to these disorders.  She currently has two R01 grants and several infrastructure grants such as the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance CTSA.  She is the director of the RCMI Recruitment Core.


Matthew C. Morris, Ph.D.

Dr. Matthew Morris was initially recruited as a post-doctoral fellow in the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Center (CMBN) and then became a faculty member in the Department of Family and Occupational Medicine in July 2013 supported by the RCMI program.  Dr. Morris successfully obtained a mentored career development award (K01 MH101403) in July 2013.  His work is focused on the neurobiology of stress - related psychopathology and gender disparities in these psychiatric disorders.  Dr. Morris developed a second pilot project and obtained funding from Meharry Clinical and Translational Research Center (MeTRC; U54 RR002614/MD007593).  The study is focused on the trajectories of changes in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity, coping factors, and diurnal neuroendocrine secretion over time following exposure to interpersonal violence in African-American women.  


Akiko Shimamoto, Ph.D.

Dr. Akiko Shimamoto, Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology was recruited to Meharry in January 2014.  Her research focuses on stress and drug addiction.  Particularly, she examines how chronic stress can alter later addictive behaviors in both males and females.  She uses an animal model of chronic stress, which shows some cardinal features of depression, to test their drug taking behaviors.  In addition, she measures neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, glutamate and GABA.  These molecules are thought to be associated with reward processing, which are responsible for complicated drug taking behaviors.  She examines how these molecules can contribute to chronic stress-induced drug taking behaviors.