Dani Dumitriu, MD, PhD

Board Certifications: 
Pediatrics
Treats Children
Profile Headshot

Overview

Areas of Expertise / Conditions Treated

Newborn Care, Newborn Medicine, Newborns

Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (in Psychiatry)

Administrative Titles

  • Co-Chair, The WiSE Club, Psychiatry
  • Director of Translational Science, Nurture Science Program
  • Training Faculty, Columbia Doctoral Program in Neurobiology & Behavior
Small interventions during early development can reverberate throughout the child's whole life by setting them onto healthy developmental trajectories.

Dani Dumitriu, MD, PhD, is trained as a general pediatrician, neuroscientist and pediatric environmental health scientist. She joined Columbia Univerisity as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (in Psychiatry) in November 2018. She dedicates 80% of her time to basic science research into the neurobiological basis of resilience as the Principal Investigator of the DOOR lab (Developmetal Origins of Resilience lab) at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and 20% time to caring for newborns in the Well-Baby Nursery at the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York.

The overarching goal of Dr. Dumitriu's research program is to understand and harness the neurocircuits of resilience to spearhead novel approaches to primary prevention. This is motivated by the observation that during the last century, medicine has made unprecedented progress in the treatment of disease, with a lack of parallel advancement in the prevention of disease. Consequently, the largest current worldwide disease burden comes from preventable mental and physical illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, diabetes, and hypertension. Stressful life events, particularly during critical developmental periods, have been linked to increased risk of virtually all diseases, including metabolic and cardiovascular ones, and a significant effort is underway to understand stress-induced biological consequences. However, even in the presence of the most severe stressors, some individuals remain resistant to the development of stress-induced pathology. Identifying the neurobiological basis for this natural resilience can therefore lead to the development of novel preventative strategies aimed at strengthening resiliency circuits.

To tackle the mechanisms for individual variability in stress-responses, the DOOR lab uses several animal models, with the overarching unifying goal of understanding the structure, function, and Developmental Origins of Resilience. In a mouse model of adult social defeat stress, we dissect preexisting neurocircuit structure-function differences in susceptible versus resilient animals using state-of-the-art tools including in vivo chemogenetics, optogenetics, and miniscope imaging, ex vivo super-resolution imaging of dendritic spines, ex vivo whole-brain imaging of functional or structural connectivity using a variety of genetic and/or viral labeling tools, and graph theoretical analysis of co-activation patterns as a proxy for functional connectomics. In a separate set of experiments, we combine rat early life maternal separation with wireless EEG and/or EKG recordings in dams and their pups. This data is used to understand individual variability in developmental trajectories and the role of dam-pup autonomic synchrony as a potential protective factor. Parallel EKG recordings and synchrony analyses are being conducted during mother-infant interactions in the newborn nursery. Finally, the lab is spearheading a study on wild rat stress-responses, asking the simple question: do depressive-like states occur in the wild, or are they a genetic and environmental epiphenomenon of laboratory breeding?

In addition to answering questions about the neurobiological basis for resilience, the DOOR lab is committed to the development of new tools and to the movement toward #openscience. In collaborative work with two different engineering groups, we are developing novel wireless telemetry devices for wild rats and a robotic solution for ex vivo neuronal microinjections. Recently, we also launched a website, MouseCircuits.org, as an open science repository of chemogenetic and optogenetic circuit dissection.

Hospital Affiliations

  • NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia
  • NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital

Languages

  • Romanian
  • Swedish

Gender

  • Female

Insurance Accepted

Aetna

  • EPO
  • HMO
  • Medicare Managed Care
  • NY Signature
  • NYP Employee Plan
  • POS
  • PPO
  • Signature Administrators
  • Student Health

Cigna

  • EPO
  • Great West
  • HMO
  • POS
  • PPO

Emblem/GHI

  • Medicare Managed Care
  • PPO

Emblem/HIP

  • ConnectiCare
  • EPO
  • Essential Plan
  • HMO
  • Medicaid Managed Care
  • Medicare Managed Care
  • POS
  • PPO
  • Select Care (Exchange)
  • Vytra

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield

  • EPO
  • Medicare Managed Care
  • PPO

Local 1199

  • Local 1199

MagnaCare

  • MagnaCare

Multiplan

  • Multiplan

MVP Health Care

  • Child/Family Health Plus
  • Essential Plan
  • HMO
  • Medicaid Managed Care

Oxford Health Plans

  • Freedom
  • Liberty

UnitedHealthcare

  • Columbia University Employee Plan
  • Compass (Exchange)
  • HMO
  • Medicaid (Community Plan)
  • Medicare Managed Care
  • POS
  • PPO

*Please contact the provider’s office directly to verify that your particular insurance is accepted.

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Residency: Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Fellowship: Mount Sinai Hospital

Board Certifications

  • Pediatrics

Honors & Awards

2012 NINDS/AUPN/ANA Combining Research and Clinical Careers in Neuroscience, DC

2015 NARSAD Young Investigator Award

2016 Reach for Your First R01 scholar, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NY

2016 AAP SOPT Partner for Resilience

2017 Kurt Hirschhorn MD Clinician-Scientist Award, Kravis Children’s Hospital, NY

2019 Society for Biological Psychiatry Domestic Travel Fellowship Award

2019 Research Initiatives in Science & Engineering Award

2020 Society for Pediatric Research New Member Outstanding Science Award

Research

During the last century, medicine has made unprecedented progress in the treatment of disease. In contrast, much less focus has been placed on parallel advancement for the prevention of disease. Consequently, the largest current worldwide disease burden comes from preventable mental and physical illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, diabetes, and hypertension. Stressful life events, particularly during critical developmental periods, have been linked to increased risk of virtually all diseases, including metabolic and cardiovascular ones, and a significant effort is underway to understand stress-induced biological consequences. However, even in the presence of the most severe stressors, some individuals remain resistant to the development of stress-induced pathology. Identifying the neurobiological basis for this natural resilience can therefore lead to the development of novel preventative strategies aimed at strengthening resiliency neurocircuits.

To tackle the mechanisms for individual variability in stress-responses, the DOOR lab uses several animal models, with the overarching unifying goal of understanding the structure, function, and Developmental Origins Of Resilience. In a mouse model of adult social defeat stress, we dissect preexisting neurocircuit structure-function differences in susceptible versus resilient animals using state-of-the-art tools including in vivo chemogenetics, optogenetics, and miniscope imaging, and ex vivo super-resolution imaging of dendritic spines, whole-brain imaging of functional or structural connectivity using a variety of genetic and/or viral labeling tools, and graph theoretical analysis of co-activation patterns as a proxy for functional connectomics. In a separate set of experiments, we combine rat early life maternal separation with wireless EEG and/or EKG recordings in dams and their pups. This data is used to understand individual variability in developmental trajectories and the role of dam-pup autonomic synchrony as a possible protective factor. Parallel EKG recordings and synchrony analyses are being conducted during mother-infant interactions in the newborn nursery. Finally, the lab is spearheading a study on wild rat stress-responses, asking the simple question: do depressive-like states occur in the wild, or are they a genetic and environmental epiphenomenon of laboratory breeding?

In addition to answering questions about the neurobiological basis for resilience, the DOOR lab is committed to the development of new tools and to the movement toward open science. In collaborative work with two different engineering groups, we are developing novel wireless telemetry devices for wild rats and a robotic solution for single neuron microinjections. Recently, we also launched a website, MouseCircuits.org, as an open science repository of chemogenetic and optogenetic circuit dissection.

Research Interests

  • Early-Life Stress
  • Brain Imaging
  • Models of Psychiatric Disorders
  • Synapses and Circuits
  • Early Infant and Child Development

Clinical Trials

NCT number: NCT04233489

Brief Summary:

Family Nurture Intervention (FNI) has been shown to facilitate emotional connection and long-term child developmental progress in the NICU population. It has been theorized that FNI also promotes autonomic co-regulation and physiological synchrony between the mother-child dyad. The goal of the pilot study is to assess how a short one-time FNI session between at-risk mother and child dyads in the Well Baby Nursery (WBN) influences physiological synchrony, emotional connection, and developmental changes both short and long-term.

Detailed Description:

The long-term objective of this work is to improve cognitive, emotional, and social developmental trajectories in at-risk children. Specially, this pilot study will assess the feasibility of Family Nurture Intervention (FNI) in the neonatal period during the infants' stay in the Well Baby Nursery (WBN) in improving developmental trajectories.

FNI is a family-based intervention that facilitates and strengthens the mother-infant emotional connection through a structured guided interaction by a trained provider. Mother-infant emotional connection is known to affect various developmental processes and improve overall health. FNI was previously shown to be efficacious in improving several long-term health outcomes in preterm infants.

In this study, the goal is to extend of the findings of FNI to another population of at risk infants - infants born to mothers suffering from gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). These infants are generally healthy but at higher risk than controls in developing mild cognitive and motor impairments.

In this pilot phase, infants exposed to GDM and case-matched control infants will both receive FNI: (GDM+FNI and Control+FNI). These two groups will be compared to an already existing protocol and pool of participants who did not receive FNI: (GDM+no FNI and Control+no FNI). This allows the study to evaluate both GDM versus control infants as well as the presence of FNI versus no FNI.

The goal is to pilot the potential role of a short, one-time session of FNI in promoting neurodevelopment among an at-risk wellbaby nursery population. This will be achieved by comparing developmental milestones, such as cognitive and motor development, memory, attention, and emotion regulation at 6 and 15 months, between participants who received the FNI and those who did not. Another goal is to elucidate the role FNI has on autonomic co-regulation and mother-infant synchrony through physiological recordings during the FNI session in the WBN.

Grants

NIMH R01 (PI)

09/18/2017-06/30/2022

Title: Multiscale connectomic principles of resilience and susceptibility in mouse

This project investigates individual variability in the structural and functional connectomes associated with divergent stress response in an adult social defeat model.

Columbia University RISE Award (MPI)

06/01/2019-05/30/2021

Title: Novel telemetry for studying wild rats in the wild

In collaboration with Dr. John Kymissis from Electrical Engineering, we build implantable, peer-to-peer enabled, rechargeable telemetry devices for rats.

MULTISCALE CONNECTOMIC PRINCIPLES OF RESILIENCE AND SUSCEPTIBILITY IN MOUSE (Federal Gov)

Dec 5 2018 - Jun 30 2022

CALIFORNIA NATIONAL PRIMATE RESEARCH CENTER (Federal Gov)

Nov 16 2018 - Nov 30 2019

GLUTAMATE RECEPTORS IN AGING CORTICAL CIRCUITS (Federal Gov)

Nov 16 2018 - Feb 16 2019

Selected Publications

Representative publications

Dumitriu D, Rodriguez A, Morrison JH. High-throughput, detailed, cell-specific neuroanatomy of dendritic spines using microinjection and confocal microscopy. Nat Prot 2011; Aug 25; 6(9): 1391-411  PMCID: PMC3566769

Dumitriu D, Laplant Q, Grossman Y, Dias C, Janssen WG, Morrison JH, Nestler EJ. Subregional, dendritic compartment, and spine subtype specificity in cocaine-regulation of dendritic spines in the nucleus accumbens. J Neurosci 2012; May 16; 32(20):6957-66  PMCID: PMC3360066

Takahashi A, Chung J, Zhang S, Zhang H, Grossman YS, Aleyasin H, Flanigan ME, Pfau ML, Menard C, Dumitriu D, Hodes GE, McEwen BS, Nestler EJ, Han MH, Russo SJ. Establishment of a repeated social defeat stress model in female mice. Scientific Reports 2017; Oct 9; 7(1):12838 PMCID: PMC5634448

Parsons MH, Deutsch MA, Dumitriu D, Munshi-South J. Differential responses by urban brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) toward male or female-produced scents in sheltered and high-risk presentations. Journal of Urban Ecology 2019; Sept 17; 5(1) [epub ahead of print]

Gozali A, Gibson S, Lipton LR, Pressman AW, Hammond BS, Dumitriu D. Assessing the effectiveness of a pediatrician-led newborn parenting class on maternal newborn-care knowledge, confidence and anxiety: A nonrandomized controlled trial. medRxiv https://doi.org/10.1101/2019.12.18.19014936