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Leanne Williams, PhD

Leanne Williams, PhD

At the Sierra Pacific MIRECC, Dr. Williams directs the Precision Medicine Core, established in direct support of the Commander John Scott Hannon Mental Health Care Improvement Act’s Precision Medicine for Veteran’s Initiative. Dr. Williams also advances precision medicine in psychiatry as a Stanford Professor and Associate Chair for Translational Neuroscience in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Stanford Center for Precision Mental Health and Wellness. Prior to moving to the USA in 2012, Dr. Williams directed the Brain Dynamics Center at Sydney Medical School in Australia. Her PhD was completed with a British Council Scholarship for study at Oxford University.

The Precision Medicine Core directly addresses the overlap of PTSD with other comorbidities such as depression and anxiety. Dr. Williams has led the application of the “Research Domain Criteria (RDoC)” paradigm to identify mental health comorbidities that increase risk for cognitive impairment and poor prognosis. The goal of RDoC is a biologically valid classification of mental disorders from brain imaging and other biomarkers that would offer new targets for precise therapeutic strategies. These markers better define comorbidities and predictors of treatment outcomes. Dr. Williams, with Dr. Hack, has published the first book on Precision Psychiatry that integrates advances in neuroimaging, electrophysiology, neurocognition, machine learning, and therapeutics, to examine the current state of precision medicine in psychiatry and explore future areas of advancement.

Research Interests

Precision medicine, neuroimaging, biotypes, PTSD, depression, TMS, pharmacotherapy, exploratory therapeutics


Dr. Williams’ active grants are listed below.

Mechanistic circuit markers of transcranial magnetic stimulation outcomes in pharmacoresistant depression (2019-2024)
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding source: NIMH

Mapping connectomes for disordered emotional states (2017-2022)
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding source: NIH (Human Connectome Project)

Mapping the Influence of Drugs of Abuse on Risk and Reward Circuits (2017-2022)
NIDA Research "Center of Excellence" Grant Program (P50)
Role: Project 4 Principal Investigator (Overall Center PI: Karl Deisseroth)
Funding source: NIDA

A Novel Use of a Sleep Intervention to Target the Emotion Regulation Brain Network and Treat Depression and Anxiety (2020-2025)
Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Goldstein-Piekarski, Stanford)
Funding source: (NIH) NIMH

Sleep disturbance and emotion regulation brain dysfunction as mechanisms of neuropsychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer’s dementia (2019-2024)
Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Goldstein-Piekarski, Stanford)
Funding source: NIH (NIMH)

NMDAR Modulation As A Therapeutic Target and Probe of Neural Dysfunction in OCD (2015-2022)
Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Rodriguez, Stanford)
Funding source: NIH (NIMH)

“COVID Response Outpatient Studies on Human Subjects” RFP
Infection Recovery in SARS-CoV2 (IRIS) Neurostudy (2020-2022_
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding source: Stanford ChEM-H/Innovative Medicine Accelerator (IMA)

Pilot Study of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) in OCD (2022-2025)
Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Rodriguez, Stanford)
Funding source: Foundation for OCD Research (FFOR)

Pilot Study to Identify Modifiable Transdiagnostic Suicide Attempt Risk Factors (2019-2022)
Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Rodriguez, Stanford)
Funding source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Clinical Trials

In The News

Featured Publications

Below is a selection of Dr. Williams’ publications; the full list can be found here.

Goldstein-Piekarski AN, Ball TM, Samara Z, Staveland BR, Keller AS, Fleming SL, Grisanzio KA, Holt-Gosselin B, Stetz P, Ma J, Williams LM. Mapping neural circuit biotypes to symptoms and behavioral dimensions of depression and anxiety. Biological Psychiatry, 2021.

Korgaonkar MS, Felmingham KL, Klimova A, Erlinger M, Williams LM*, Bryant RA*. White matter anisotropy and response to cognitive behavior therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder. Translational Psychiatry, 2021.

Korgaonkar MS, Goldstein-Piekarski AN, Fornito A, Williams LM. Intrinsic connectomes are a predictive biomarker of remission in major depressive disorder. Molecular psychiatry, 2019.

Tozzi L, Goldstein-Piekarski AN, Korgaonkar MS, Williams LM. Connectivity of the cognitive control network during response inhibition as a predictive and response biomarker in major depression: evidence from a randomized clinical trial. Biological Psychiatry, 2019.

Grisanzio KA, Goldstein-Piekarski AN, Wang MY, Ahmed APR, Samara Z, Williams LM. Transdiagnostic symptom clusters and associations with brain, behavior and daily function in mood, anxiety, and trauma disorders. JAMA Psychiatry, 2018.

Goldstein-Piekarski AN, Korgaonkar MS, Green E, Suppes T, Schatzberg AF, Hastie T, Nemeroff CB, Williams LM. Human amygdala engagement moderated by early life stress exposure is a biobehavioral target for predicting recovery on antidepressants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016.

Williams LM. Precision Psychiatry: A neural circuit taxonomy for depression and anxiety. Lancet Psychiatry, 2016.

Williams LM, Korgaonkar MS, Song YC, Paton R, Eagles S, Etkin A, Gordon E. Amygdala reactivity to emotional faces in the prediction of general and medication-specific responses to antidepressant treatment in the randomized iSPOT-D trial. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2015.

Gatt JM, Nemeroff CB, Dobson-Stone C, Paul RH, Bryant RA, Schofield PR, Gordon E, Kemp AH, Williams LM. Interactions between BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and early life stress predict brain and arousal pathways to syndromal depression and anxiety. Molecular Psychiatry, 2009.