Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Depression, Risk Factors, Prenatal, Obstetric Complications, Prodromal, Neurodevelopment, Psychoneuroimmunology


Interests: Pre- and perinatal influences in neurodevelopment and in risk for major mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression; gene-environment interactions; risk factors in adolescence for schizophrenia (e.g. the prodrome of schizophrenia); multimodal imaging; neuropsychological assessments; psychoneuroimmunology; stress; psychiatric epidemiology. Lauren M. Ellman, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Clinical area of the Psychology department at Temple University. Generally, Dr. Ellman’s research focuses on two sensitive periods of development in the prediction of schizophrenia and related disorders, the prenatal period and adolescence. This research is aimed at determining risk factors for schizophrenia in order to ultimately identify those who are vulnerable to developing the disorder and intervene at early stages to prevent the onset of serious psychiatric symptoms. Dr. Ellman has multiple ongoing studies examining pre- and perinatal contributions to schizophrenia using birth cohorts in the United States and Finland, with access to biosamples from pre- and perinatal periods. Using these cohorts, Dr. Ellman has focused on a variety of obstetric insults, such as psychosocial and neuroendocrine indicators of stress, maternal infection and maternal immune responses to infection during pregnancy, and biological indicators of hypoxia (decreased oxygen to the fetus). In these studies, Dr. Ellman explores how obstetric risk factors influence the neurodevelopmental course of schizophrenia, including premorbid functioning (e.g. motor, cognitive, and social) and functional outcomes after the onset of the disorder (e.g. neuropsychological, brain abnormalities, and symptom severity). Lastly, Dr. Ellman has a continued interest in how obstetric factors are influenced by genetic vulnerabilities related to schizophrenia.

Dr. Ellman also has ongoing studies investigating risk factors for schizophrenia among older adolescents and young adults using clinical, psychosocial, and neuroimaging techniques. These studies are designed to identify individuals at risk for schizophrenia prior to the onset of the disorder. In all of Dr. Ellman’s studies, she takes a life-span approach to psychopathology, investigating how risk factors influence the course of the disorder at different developmental stages and interact with existing vulnerabilities within the individual, such as genetic susceptibility to mental disorders. Dr. Ellman received her B.A. in philosophy and psychology from Tulane University. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) with a health psychology minor. As a doctoral student, Dr. Ellman received training in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) through UCLA’s Cousin’s center in PNI and she was a NIMH-funded predoctoral fellow through the health psychology program at UCLA. She completed her APA-accredited internship at the Sepulveda VA Ambulatory Care Center in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Ellman also completed a NIMH-funded National Research Service Award (NRSA) postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University in the schizophrenia research fellowship program.

In addition, Dr. Ellman has garnered numerous pre- and postdoctoral awards and has reviewed for multiple prestigious journals, including JAMA Psychiatry (formerly Archives of General Psychiatry), Behavior, Brain, and Immunity, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Biological Psychia try, Psychoneuroendocrinology and others. Dr. Ellman also has been trained in multiple forms of therapy and has supervised students in various theoretical modalities. She has extensive experiences working with a diverse array of client populations, with a special focus on working with individuals who are suffering from schizophrenia, as well as individuals exhibiting the first signs of psychosis. Dr. Ellman also has training in neuropsychological assessments, both clinically and in her various research projects. Dr. Ellman is a member of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society and the American Psychological Association.


Selected Publications

  • Fineberg, A. M. & Ellman, L. M. (2013). Inflammatory cytokines and neurological and neurocognitive alterations in the course of schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry, 73, 951-966.
  • Fineberg, A. M., Ellman, L. M., Buka, S., Yolken, R., & Cannon, T. D. (2013). Decreased birth weight in psychosis: Influence of prenatal exposure to serologically determined influenza and hypoxia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 39(5), 1037-1044.
  • Ellman, L. M., Deicken, R., Vinogradov, S., Kremen, W. S., Poole, J., Kern, D. M., Tsai, W. Y., Schaefer, C. A., Brown, A. S. (2010). Structural brain alterations in schizophrenia following fetal exposure to the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-8. Schizophrenia Research, 11, 29-32.
  • Ellman, L.M., & Susser, E.S. (2009). The promise of epidemiologic studies: Neuroimmune mechanisms in the etiologies of brain disorders. Neuron, 64, 25-27.
  • Ellman, L.M. Yolken, R.H. Buka, S.L., Torrey, E.F., Cannon, T.D. (2009). Cognitive functioning prior to the onset of psychosis: The role of fetal exposure to serologically determined influenza infection. Biological Psychiatry, 65, 1040-1047.
  • Ellman LM, Schetter CD, Hobel CJ, Chicz-Demet A, Glynn LM, Sandman CA. (2008). Timing of fetal exposure to stress hormones: Effects on newborn physical and neuromuscular maturation. Dev Psychobiol; 50(3):232-241.
  • Mittal, V. A., Ellman, L. M., & Cannon, T. D. (2008). Gene-environment interaction and covariation in schizophrenia: The role of obstetric complications. Schizophr Bull; 34(6):1083-94.
  • Ellman, L. M., Huttunen, M., Lonnqvist, J., & Cannon, T. D. (2007). The effects of genetic liability for schizophrenia and maternal smoking during pregnancy on obstetric complications. Schizophr Res, 93(1-3), 229-236.