Leanne Williams, Ph.D.

Leanne Williams, Ph.D.

Dr. Williams’ research focus is on “personalized translational neuroscience” and it spans the fields of cognitive neuroscience, affective neuroscience, neuroimaging, genetics and informatics. She has focused on disorders such as depression which are complex, not yet understood and have a disproportionately large burden of illness.

Dr. Williams joined the staff at the VA Palo Alto and Stanford faculty as Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in 2012. Soon thereafter, she received her initial PA-based National Institutes of Health award administered by PAVIR. Prior, she was Director of the Brain Dynamics Center (2001 to 2013) and the founding Professor in Cognitive Neuropsychiatry at the University of Sydney Medical School. Her current work benefits from her experience at the Brain Dynamics Center where she established an interdisciplinary research program which brought together neuroimaging, electrophysiological, behavioral and genetic techniques to study mental illnesses with significant burden of illness.

Dr. Williams is an outstanding teacher and mentor, sharing her experience with the next generation of researchers and clinicians: over the course of her career, she has trained 46 postdoctoral and graduate students, and between them they have won 42 awards. In addition, she has contributed to the
field in top tier psychiatry and neuroscience journals, including Molecular Psychiatry, American Journal of Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Journal of Neuroscience, Behavioral and Brain Sciences and Neuroimage. In total, my research has produced a total of 223 peer-reviewed publications, 6 invited reviews/reports and 6 book chapters. Dr. Williams’ work has also been recognized by the Presidential award of the American Society for Psychosomatic Medicine in 2008 and a Pfizer Foundation award for 2005-10.

Most recently, Dr. Williams has served as the academic lead the first practical trial of depression to include imaging and genetic biomarker measures as candidate predictors of clinical state and treatment outcome. This trial has spanned 20 sites and tested 1700 patients. At the VA and Stanford she is PI on a PAVIR administered study, using neuroimaging to develop novel classifications of depression and anxiety states, as a flagship project under NIMH’s “Research Domain Criteria” initiative.