Beatriz Luna Appointed to NIH Advisory Committee

Issue Date: 
April 13, 2009
Beatriz LunaBeatriz Luna

Beatriz Luna, a professor of psychiatry and psychology in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has been selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to serve as a member of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD). Since 1966, the ACD has advised the NIH director on policy and planning issues important to the NIH mission of conducting and supporting biomedical and behavioral research and research training and translating research results for the public.

As a member of this prestigious committee, and the first from the University of Pittsburgh, Luna will join six other new advisors as they support and counsel the NIH director on matters of planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all 27 NIH components.

“Dr. Luna’s selection for this position is well-deserved recognition for her extensive research in the field of psychiatry,” said Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. “Her commitment to adolescent brain research makes her ideal for this important role as a highly capable steward of the NIH’s vision.”

“We are most pleased that Dr. Luna is the occupant of this significant position, which provides support to the NIH as it leads the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people’s health and save lives,” said David J. Kupfer, Thomas Detre Professor and chair, Department of Psychiatry.

Luna’s primary research focuses on using innovative brain imaging technologies, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging, to characterize how the brain mechanisms underlying cognitive skills mature during adolescence. Her work provides insight into how vulnerabilities inherent to adolescence lead to psychopathology and risk-taking behavior and is central to the recent view that brain function continues to be immature during adolescence.

Luna is the founding director of the Laboratory for Neurocognitive Development at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Born in Santiago, Chile, she received her Ph.D. from Pitt. In 2005, she received the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering for her pioneering work investigating the neural basis of developmental changes in behavior through adolescence.