Research Team

  • Brian A. Fallon, MD, MPH

    • Director, Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center

    Brian Fallon, MD, MPH, is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Director of the Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center at CUIMC, and the Clinical Trials Network.  At CHAR, Dr. Fallon oversees all clinical and research activities, educates the trainees and clinicians, and co-leads the monthly case conferences. For the last 25 years, Dr. Fallon has focused his work on Lyme disease, primarily the neuropsychiatric and chronic aspects. He collaborates extensively with investigators at Columbia and throughout the country to conduct research that spans phenomenology, immunology, proteomics, diagnostics, functional and structural brain imaging, neurochemistry, and controlled randomized treatment trials. To support this work, Dr. Fallon has received NIH, foundation, and industry grants. He has been principal investigator or Co-PI on four federal-funded randomized clinical trials. His research has led to over 100 peer-reviewed publications published in scientific journals.  In 2018, he authored Conquering Lyme Disease (Columbia University Press) with Jennifer Sotsky MD, which provides an in-depth exposition of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases (written for both the public and medical professionals).  Dr. Fallon has served on HHS, NIH, and CDC committees related to Lyme and tick-borne diseases, has given presentations to Congress and to the Institute of Medicine, and has lectured at national and international conferences.  Dr. Fallon earned his MD from the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, his MPH from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and his BA from Harvard College.

    Headshot of Brian Fallon
  • John G. Keilp, PhD

    • Neuropsychologist and Associate Professor at Columbia University Irving Medical Center

    Dr. Keilp is a consulting neuropsychologist in the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center and head of the Neuropsychology Laboratory in the Division of Molecular Imaging and Neuropathology (MIND) at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He has extensive experience in the assessment of cognitive impairment in psychiatric (depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia), neurologic (dementia), and infectious (Lyme disease and HIV) diseases. He has conducted numerous studies examining correlations between cognitive deficits and various biological measures. Dr. Keilp has extensive experience with neuropsychological assessment in the post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, and is widely published in peer-reviewed journals.


    Headshot of researcher John Keilp
  • Mara Kuvaldina, PhD

    • Neuropsychologist and Researcher in the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center
    • Associate Director of the Clinical Trials Network for Lyme and other Tick-borne Diseases

    Mara Kuvaldina, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology and Psychiatry at CUIMC and a Neuropsychologist and Researcher in the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center. She is also Associate Director of the Clinical Trials Network (CTN) for Lyme and other Tick-Borne Diseases. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, and was a Fulbright scholar at the New School for Social Research. Her current research focus is neuromodulation (vagus nerve stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and transcranial direct current stimulation) for chronic inflammatory illnesses and tick-borne diseases. She combines methods of experimental cognitive psychology, applied physics, and psychometry to investigate potential biomarkers and develop an individualized neuromodulation regimen. At the Lyme Center, Mara oversees research activities/clinical trials, data management, and statistical analyses. She joined the faculty at CUIMC in 2021. 

  • Randy Lai, MD

    • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at CUIMC

    Randy Lai, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at CUIMC. Dr. Lai is a board-certified adult psychiatrist who specializes in behavioral neurology and complex neuropsychiatric presentations. In addition to participating in research at the Lyme & Tick-borne Diseases Research Center, Dr. Lai evaluates and treats patients with neuropsychiatric disorders at the Faculty Practice Outpatient clinical program in the Department of Psychiatry at the CUIMC, located at the Neurological Institute in northern Manhattan. 

    Dr. Lai earned his MD from Ross University Medical School and completed his residency training in adult psychiatry at St. John's Episcopal Hospital. He received further training in Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry fellowship at The Mount Sinai Hospital, managing neuropsychiatric conditions that often require a multidisciplinary approach. He joined the faculty at CUIMC in 2023.  

  • Marianne Gorlyn, PhD

    • Clinical Neuropsychologist and Researcher in the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center

    Marianne Gorlyn, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry. Her training and clinical experience encompass assessment of cognitive and behavioral disorders across the life-span, from identifying neurodevelopmental and learning disorders in children and adolescents, to evaluating cognitive problems associated with aging and neurodegenerative diseases in adult and geriatric populations. She has extensive experience in diagnostic and neuropsychological evaluations of psychiatric disorders in children and adults (ADHD, OCD, psychotic disorders, depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety, personality disorders) as well as assessment of cognitive difficulties in infectious diseases (Lyme disease). Dr. Gorlyn has conducted studies and published articles in peer-reviewed journals related to cognitive dysfunction in depression and suicidal behavior.

    Headshot of Lyme researcher
  • Krishna Desai, MD, FAAFP

    • Integrative Medicine Physician

    Krishna Desai, MD, FAAFP, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine with dual board certification in Family and Integrative Medicine. Dr. Desai is a Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine specialist committed to helping children and adults with severe chronic illnesses, as many chronic disorders have underlying common denominators, including imbalances in immune regulation, nutritional deficits, undetected infection, and chronic inflammation. She is the director of the Integrative Medicine Consultation Clinic at the Center for Family and Community Medicine at CUIMC.  Dr. Desai has published articles relevant to Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine in peer-reviewed journals and currently trains medical students and residents at Columbia University in Integrative Medicine which includes herbals/botanicals, nutritional supplements, and mind body therapies. Dr. Desai earned her MD from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and completed her residency in family medicine at Carolinas Medical Center. After completing her integrative medicine fellowship training at University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, she joined the faculty at CUIMC in 2013.

  • Andrew J. Dwork, MD

    • Professor of Clinical Pathology and Cell Biology in Psychiatry

    Andrew Dwork, MD, has a broad range of expertise in neuropathology, having conducted research on hippocampal neurogenesis, the blood brain barrier, and neural epigenetic regulation. Dr. Dwork and his colleague Gorazd Rosoklija, MD, PhD (neurologist and neuropathologist) oversee the post-mortem repository of brain and spinal-cord specimens which contains specimens from generous patients with a history of Lyme disease. Dr Dwork is co-investigator with Dr. Fallon, Dr. Monica Embers, and Dr. Tim Sellati on a post-mortem study of human Lyme disease. Using bright field double immunohistochemical labeling techniques, Dr. Dwork and Dr. Rosoklija examine the post-mortem brains for evidence of microglial activation, macrophages, and altered blood-brain barreir. Next these post-mortem tissues are probed for Borrelia spirochetes and other microbes by our collaborating co-investigators.

    Headshot of research dwork
  • Alla Landa, PhD

    • Director, Pain Research in the Center for Neuroinflammatory and Somatic Disorders

    Alla Landa, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry at Columbia University, and a Research Scientist in the Center for Neuroinflammatory and Somatic Disorders and the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center. Her NIH-funded research bridges clinical psychology and developmental neuroscience and aims at clarifying the pathophysiology of somatic symptoms (e.g. chronic pain) and developing effective treatments. Dr. Landa is currently principal investigator of a fMRI study of chronic pain among patients previously treated with antibiotics for Lyme disease.

    Headshot of research Alla Landa
  • Ellen Brown, BA

    • Research Study Coordinator

    Ellen Brown is a graduate of Duke University, having majored in dance and psychology. Her senior thesis evaluated the effects of emotion on dance performance. She is currently a REDCap data manager for the center and also serves as research coordinator for several studies and co-author on research studies. During her off hours, she performs with SHIFT Dance in NYC.

  • Lilly Murray, RN

    • Research Nurse

    Lilly studied psychology and computer science at Purchase College, State University of New York. She subsequently completed her Bachelor of Science in nursing at University of Pennsylvania. She has ten years of clinical, behavioral, and neuroimaging research experience in the domains of psychology, public health, and infectious diseases. At the Lyme Center, she is predominantly involved in clinical activities, managing our biorepository, and diagnostic studies of Lyme disease. During her off hours, Lilly enjoys Muay Thai, hiking, reading, and motorcycling.

    Lilly Murray
  • Esmerelda Velasco

    • Research Assistant, BA

    Esmeralda is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, having majored in psychology and behavioral biology. At the Lyme Center, she serves as a research assistant for various studies. Her main responsibilities include recruitment and screening of study participants. During her off hours, Esmeralda spends her time traveling and making pottery.

Collaborating Investigators and Clinicians