Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Development of Psychopathology: From Brain and Behavioral Science to Intervention

The primary goals of this training program are to produce independent research scientists who will contribute to the state of knowledge about (a) the psychosocial and neurobiological processes in the development and maintenance of psychopathology, and (b) the translation of this basic knowledge into empirically supported interventions for treating and preventing psychopathology. During the 23 years of funding to date, this program has been successful in achieving these goals.

Research Training Fellowships

The program faculty represent multiple disciplines including clinical, developmental, social, quantitative, and cognitive psychology, neuroscience, psychometrics and statistics, child and adult psychiatry, pediatrics, sociology, and public policy. Faculty and trainee research has focused on internalizing disorders, particularly depression and anxiety; externalizing disorders; autism and other developmental disorders of cognition and learning; pediatric health psychology; basic emotional, cognitive, and biological processes; neurobiological bases of psychopathology, and prevention and treatment. A range of expertise is available in state-of-the-art neuroscience methods including functional MRI, structural MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, near-infrared optical imaging, positron-emission tomography (PET), electroencephalogram (EEG), event-related potential (ERP), psychophysiological recordings, and hormonal assays to understand the complex relations among cognitions, emotions, behavior, and brain structure and function.

Several mechanisms for training are used including a mentor-trainee apprenticeship, a weekly proseminar attended by multiple program faculty and trainees, visits by world renowned researchers, university-wide seminars on ethics of research, regular professional development seminars, and individually-tailored curricula to meet the specific needs of trainees. The proseminar provides a foundation in the biological, psychological, and social mechanisms underlying different types of psychopathology across development, the translation of basic knowledge into intervention strategies, research design and quantitative methods, minority and cross-cultural issues, the responsible conduct of research, and professional development.

A Visiting Scholars series involves intensive meetings with different internationally recognized scholars to discuss the visitor’s research and for trainees to receive consultation on their own work. These visits have led to highly stimulating and mutually beneficial discussions and collaborations.

The foundation of the program is the research mentoring in which trainees receive direct guidance by at least two primary faculty mentors. Individualized programs are developed for trainees in consultation with their mentors and program directors through courses and workshops. Trainees are encouraged to develop their own independent program of research and are not expected to serve as a project coordinator on their mentors’ studies unless doing so enhances the trainee’s own research program.

Pre- and Postdoctoral Training

This program's funds support four advanced predoctoral trainee positions per year and two postdoctoral trainee positions per year.

Program Emphasis

The program emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of the field in that trainees and faculty come from diverse backgrounds and disciplines (e.g., clinical, developmental, social, and quantitative psychology; psychiatry; neuroscience; pediatrics; sociology; and education).

  • Individualized programs are developed for trainees through a weekly proseminar, course work, workshops, and apprenticeship-based research mentoring.
  • The program is a joint venture of the Departments of Psychology and Human Development (Peabody College), Psychology (College of Arts & Science), and Psychiatry (School of Medicine), administered through the Kennedy Center.
  • The program has over 30 faculty preceptors.
  • It is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health.

We strongly encourage applications from:

  • Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Individuals from socially, culturally, economically, or educationalt disadvantaged backgrounds

The program is designed to build the research skills needed for an academic research career.

How to Apply

This fellowship program is intended for predoctoral psychologists and neuroscientists (entering year three or four of their doctoral programs) and postdoctoral trainees (zero or one year since degree). U.S. citizenship is required. Fellows are selected on the basis of overall academic excellence, publications, research program, recommendations, and evidence of interest and facility in working with colleagues in other disciplines. Application is initiated by submitting the following information:

  • A one- to two-page description of the applicant's career goals and interest in the development of psychopathology from brain and behavioral science to intervention
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of reference sent directly to the program director
  • Reprints of published or "in press" articles

Judy Garber, Ph.D.
Vanderbilt University
Dept. of Psychology & Human Development
0552 Peabody
230 Appleton Place
Nashville, TN 37240

Guidance and Experience Through Weekly Proseminars..

In the weekly proseminar, trainees learn the work of highly regarded scholars in-depth and receive consultation on their own research.

Top Ranked...

Peabody College has been consistently ranked among the top 10 schools of education in the nation by U. S. News and World Report for the past six years, and Special Education within the top 3 nationwide.


Judy Garber, Ph.D., Program Director, Developmental Psychopathology Research Training, (615) 343-8714

See Also...

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Links

  • Vanderbilt Vision Research Center
    The Vanderbilt Vision Research Center promotes research and training on a wide range of problems in vision science.
  • Vanderbilt University's Department of Special Education
    Ranked as a top-tier special education program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for more than a decade, the department has long been a leader both in research and practice. The department ranks first in scholarly production among other departments at research universities in the United States, according to a new report by Academic Analytics.
  • Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Training Program in Functional Neurogenomics
    The program provides for formal research training and didactic instruction, as well as seminars and technical workshops at the interface of neuroscience and genomic research. The program is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. Funds support six postdoctoral trainees.
  • Pharmacological Sciences Training Program
    An interdisciplinary doctoral training program in pharmacological sciences at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
    Vanderbilt Brain Institute's Neuroscience Graduate Program fosters development from trainee to independent research scientist and educator.
  • Biobehavioral Interventions Training Program
    Postdoctoral fellowships are available through the Biobehavioral Interventions Training Program, supported by an NIH Roadmap initiative, at Vanderbilt University.