Wayne State University

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School of Medicine

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Tolan Park Medical Building 3901 Chrysler Service Drive Detroit MI 48201


Arash Javanbakht, MD: Principal Investigator

I went to medical school in Iran, and finished my research track residency at the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry.   Currently, I am an assistant professor of psychiatry specialized in anxiety disorders and PTSD, and director of the STARC. My research is focused on the underlying neurobiological body and brain mechanisms in anxiety disorders and PTSD, and how psychotherapy works. I am specifically interested in the role of personal meaning and cognitive interpretation of (or information about) traumatic events in the way people are differently traumatized by those events. I also research neurobiology of cognitive, cultural, physical, and temporal context invulnerability  or resilience to negative effects of trauma and PTSD. My other area of interest is the use of technology, in diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders and PTSD.  I use functional MRI (brain imaging), electrophysiology, and genetic methods in research.  In clinical practice, I focus on a treatment plan specifically tailored for each person based on their psychosocial and life circumstances, personal goals, the meaning of life, and needs. I use  medications, psychotherapy, exercise, nutrition, and improving social life to help patients not only overcome their anxiety and fear, but also achieve their highest potentials in having a better life.



Farah Alani, BDS: Research Assistant   

I am originally from Baghdad, Iraq. I obtained my degree of Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) from the University of Baghdad College of Dentistry in 2008 and moved to the United States as a refugee less than a year later.  I have volunteered in multiple medical offices and research projects. The highlight of my research experience is when I worked for the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in 2016. I am currently involved in the Stress Risk and Resilience in Syrian and Iraqi Refugees and Survivors of Torture research team.  Away from work environment, I enjoy reading, music and sports.



Cynthia Arfken, PhD: Professor, Department of Psychiatryand Behavioral Neuroscience
I am a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan. My training include a PhD in chronic disease epidemiology from Yale University and a postdoctoral fellowship in alcohol research from the University of California in Berkeley. Before moving to Wayne State University, I was on the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, in the division of Biostatistics and then in the Center for Health Behavior Research (Internal Medicine). In addition to research on mental health, I am the epidemiologist and member of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority Substance Use Disorder Oversight Policy Board and Associate Editor for the Journal of Muslim Mental Health.



Zeina Alobaidi MD: Research Assistant   

I was born and raised in Baghdad/Iraq.  There I finished her medical degree from University of Al-Mustansiriyah, College of Medicine, and did my residency constructing health system in post-war Iraq. A few years ago I moved to the United States with my family and I am in th process of building my medical career in the US.  My hobbies outside of work are spending time with my family, traveling, cooking, and interior design. I am currently involved in the Stress Risk and Resilience in Syrian and Iraqi Refugees and Survivors of Torture and Cognitive Context In Fear Conditioning And Extinction Learning research teams.



Heba Al-saghir: Research Assistant  

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, class of 2018. I'm a biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience major with a Spanish minor.  I am currently involved in the Stress Risk and Resilience in Syrian and Iraqi Refugees and Survivors of Torture and Cognitive Context In Fear Conditioning And Extinction Learning research teams.  




Mohammed Isam Alsaud MD:  Research Assistant

I was born and raised in Iraq.  From there I graduated from Alanbar Medical School in Iraq, 2004.  I moved to the US in 2008 to pursue higher education.  I have worked in the field of psychiatric consultations and mental trauma resulting from regional conflict and civil wars in the middle east by being a part of many studies that cover needs and necessities of the refugees for better mental health. My passion has always been studying habits of humans as individuals or in groups.  Why we do the things we do routinely every day and how can you manipulate these habits for better outcomes and high er productivity.  When I'm not studying and reading I enjoy playing soccer, woking out and spending time with my family and wonderful dog.  I I'm currently involved in the Stress Risk and Resilience in Syrian and Iraqi  Refugees and Survivors of Torture research team. 



Shantanu Madaboosi: Research Assistant 

I am an undergraduate studying at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in Psychology, Applied Statistics, and Computer Science. Aspiring data analyst, hoping to apply learned skills to further research in the field of psychology. My interests outside of research include soccer as well as learning about health and other forms of physical activity. I am currently involved in the Cognitive Context In Fear Conditioning And Extinction Learning research team.



Luna Nasry: Research Assistant

My name is Luna Nasry and I am a fifth year senior at Oakland University Honors College with a double major in Psychology and Biology.  Currently, I work as an ED Medical Scribe at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.  I joined the research team to help assist in data entry and translation in various refugee studies.  After witnessing the effects of the Syrian conflict in the Jordanian refugee camps and Turkish summer schools, I wanted to understand, research, and get more involved locally. I am also involved in Neurology research at Henry Ford Hospital, where I am studying the differentiations in brain abnormalities between epileptic and  pseudo epileptic patients. In the little free time that I have, I enjoy spending time outdoors and traveling the world. 



Suzzanne Manji, RN: Research Coordinator

I have been a research nurse and coordinator since 1983 and had worked on research protocols at the National Institutes of Health for twelve years. I relocated to Detroit in 1995 to assist with many aspects of opening a dedicated research unit. In 2011 I became the Clinical Director of an out-patient adult psychiatric clinic.  I then transfered to an out-patient child, adolescent and adult out-patient clinic in 2014. Along with being a nurse I have a fine arts degree in painting from The Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC.



Lana Grasser, BSc: Research Coordinator

I am a Translational Neuroscience doctoral candidate at Wayne State University. I recently graduated from Michigan State University, holding a Bachelor's of Neuroscience with a minor in Dance. I was formerly the Lab Lead of the Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition lab, focusing on research in literary neuroscience and neuroaesthetics and also conducted research on using patient pathomorphology for determining course of minimally invasive neurosurgery. Currently, I am investigating the efficacy of non-pharmacological therapies (dance, art, and yoga) for the treatment of PTSD, stress, and anxiety in refugees. Outside of the lab, I worked professionally as a choreographer and was a pre-professional ballet dancer. 



 Zainab Rawi, BDS: Research Assistant

I was born and raised in Iraq. From there I graduated from Baghdad University/ Dentistry College with BDS degree in 2006 and received my license to practice general Dentistry from Iraq Dental Association from Iraq. I'm currently working as a dental assistant, research assistant, shadowing in University of Michigan- hospital Dentistry, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department as well as volunteering in University of Michigan Clinical Simulation Center as a research assistant. My goal is to apply to international Dental program and practice my career in the United States.  



Samantha Sonderman, BSc: Research Coordinator

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, class of 2017 with a Movement Science major and Spanish Minor.  In the future, I plan on becoming a clinical psychologist with a focus on Anxiety and Depression. Outside of school and researchI enjoy playing soccer, reading, and ice carving.  I am currently involved in the Stress Risk and Resilience in Syrian and Iraqi Refugees and Survivors of Torture and Cognitive Context In Fear Conditioning And Extinction Learning research teams.



Hiba Suhaiban, MD: Research Coordinator

I'm from Jordan and grew up in Dubai.  I attended the Medical College of Sharjah and completed psychiatry clinical attachment. After graduation, I joined STARC team; I'm currently leading one of our study projects which is looking at the combined effects of instruction and experience on learning of fear and safety.  I'm very passionate in psychiatry and looking forward to making a positive contribution in this felid.  My other interests include playing piano, reading and traveling.  I am currently involved in the Stress Risk and Resilience in Syrian and Iraqi Refugees and Survivors of Torture and Cognitive Context In Fear Conditioning And Extinction Learning research teams.