Wang_Lei_720x720Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Neuroscience
Director of Strategy and New Initiatives in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Research Interests

Dr. Wang is interested in developing neuroimaging biomarkers for neuropsychiatric disorders ranging from psychosis and dementia to pediatric HIV and cancer-treatment related cognitive dysfunction. He is interested in understanding these disorders at the brain circuit and systems levels.

Neuroimaging biomarkers are complex, multidimensional and should be integrated across multiple modalities. Dr. Wang uses computational anatomy tools to develop these biomarkers, bridging mathematics, engineering and clinical neuroscience. Neuroimaging biomarkers can help us see the structure and function of the living brain and help us see when and where disease breaks down neural function. This can lead to advances in both basic science and patient care. For example, multimodal imaging approaches can examine how the brain’s activation and communication abilities are disrupted when there is a structural breakdown. This understanding could help explain why people develop certain cognitive dysfunctions or clinical symptoms, and in turn help develop targeted interventions.

Dr. Wang is also interested in contributing to the building of big data and open science infrastructure for neuroimaging research. This includes data discovery, data sharing, and reproducibility science. Big data and the increasingly large amount of open science research will help us make new discoveries faster by combining and more fully utilizing already-collected data. Open science will also encourage sharing of tools and foster new collaborations. To this end, Dr. Wang has an extensive network of national and international collaborators. He is also on the front lines of virtual collaboration, partnering with Dr. M. Faisal Beg at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver to create a fully-fledged virtual lab with joint research, computing, and mentoring, publishing over 30 papers thus far.

Research Goals

The ultimate goal of Dr. Wang’s research is to leverage the understanding of the neural mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders to develop personalized biomarkers for prediction and intervention. Towards this goal, both horizontal and vertical approaches will be developed. Horizontal approaches would allow for integration across different disorders and species, and vertical approaches would allow for integrations across genetics, molecules, cells, brain circuits and behavior. 

Dr. Wang would like to see scientific resources be accessible to as many people as possible. These include researchers at smaller labs or institutions, clinicians without access to a wealth of resources, or geographically isolated collaborators. 

Dr. Wang received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with Honors from the University of Maryland at College Park and PhD in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University. He did his postdoctoral work with Dr. Michael I. Miller at Washington University in St. Louis, working on computational anatomy. Prior to joining The Ohio State University. Dr. Wang was at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine as an associate professor with tenure in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Radiology. 

Dr. Wang has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal papers. His research has received grant support from the NIH, NSF, and Foundations. For his work, he has received a Ken and Ruth Davee Award for Innovative Investigations in Affective Disorders and an IDP Foundation Research Innovation Challenge Award. Dr. Wang has served on NIH and NSF review panels, program committee of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), steering committee and Chair of the Hippocampal Subfield Group, and leadership group of the NIH Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS). He is an elected member of Eta Kappa Nu, the National Electrical Engineering Honorary Society, and an elected fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

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