Joan Luby

Samuel and Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Child Psychiatry

Additional Titles & Roles


  • Director, Early Emotional Development Program
  • Co-PI NIMH Post doctoral training program in developmental affective neuroscience

Education & Training


  • Fellowship: Child Psychiatry: Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 1990
  • Residency: Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 1988
  • MD: Wayne State University School, Detroit, MI, 1985
  • AB: Brown University, Providence, RI, 1981

Major Awards


  • AACAP Irving R. Philips Award for Prevention, 2015
  • Member Scientific Council/ Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, 2018
  • Washington University Carl and Gerty Cori Faculty Achievement Award, 2020
  • Ruane Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Research (NARSAD), 2020
  • American Psychiatric Association Blanche Ittelson Award for Research in Child/Adolescent Psychiatry, 2021
  • AACAP Norbert and Charlotte Rieger Award for Scientific Achievement, 2021

Areas of Clinical Interest


Mood disorders in preschool children: diagnosis and treatment, Developmental Psychopathology, Neurobiological correlates of preschool depression. Early experience and neurodevelopment. Sensitive periods. Novel parent-child interaction therapy for preschool mood disorders, Infant/Preschool Psychiatry

Research Interests


– Studies of early onset depression, validators, clinical characteristics, biological markers and alterations in brain structure and function related to early onset depression and other early experiences
– Psychotherapeutic treatments for early onset depression focusing on emotion development
– Studies of early experience and brain development
– Effects of poverty on brain development
– Novel treatments for early onset depression
– Sensitive periods in emotion development and therapeutic response.

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Key Publications


  • Luby JL, Baram TZ, Rogers C, Barch DM. Neurodevelopmental Optimization after Early Life Adversity: Cross Species Studies to Elucidate Sensitive Periods and Brain Mechanisms to Inform Early Intervention. Trends Neurosci. 2020 Oct; 43(10): 744-751.
    Read publication »Neurodevelopmental Optimization after Early Life Adversity: Cross Species Studies to Elucidate Sensitive Periods and Brain Mechanisms to Inform Early Intervention
  • Luby JL, Tillman R, Barch DM. Association of the Timing of Adverse Life Experiences and Caregiver Support in Childhood with Regionally Specific Brain Development in Adolescents. 2019 JAMA Open.
  • Luby JL, Barch DM, Whalen DJ, Tillman R, Freeland K. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Parent-Child Psychotherapy Targeting Emotion Development for Early Childhood Depression. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 2018. PMID: 29921144.
    Read publication »A Randomized Controlled Trial of Parent-Child Psychotherapy Targeting Emotion Development for Early Childhood Depression.
  • Barch DM, Whalen DJ, Gilbert K, Kappenman E, Hajcak G, Luby JL. Neural indicators of anhedonia: Predictors and mechanisms of treatment change in a randomized clinical trial in early childhood depression. Biological Psychiatry. 2019; 85(10): 863-871. with Barch, DM, Donohue, MR, Elsayed, NM, Gilbert, K, Harms, MP, Hennefield, L, Herzberg M, Kandala S, Karcher NR, Jackson JJ, Luking KR, Rappaport BI, Sanders A, Taylor R, Tillman R, Vogel AC, Whalen D, & Luby, J. L. (2021). Early childhood socioeconomic status and cognitive and adaptive outcomes at the transition to adulthood: The mediating role of gray matter development across 5 scan waves. Biological psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.
  • Luby JL, Gilbert K, Whalen D, Tillman R, Barch DM. The differential contribution of the components of parent child interaction therapy emotion development for treatment of preschool depression. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2019.
    Read publication »Neural Indicators of Anhedonia: Predictors and Mechanisms of Treatment Change in a Randomized Clinical Trial in Early Childhood Depression.
  • Luby JL, Whalen DJ, Tillman R, Barch DM. Clinical and Psychosocial Characteristics of Young Children with Suicidal Ideation, Behaviors and Non-Suicidal Self-Injurious Behaviors. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2019 58(1): 117-127. PMID: 30577927; PMCID: PMC6550290.

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Funded Research Projects


Metcalfe Award for Investigation of the Developmental Precursors of Mental Disorders

Co-P.I. (with Deanna M. Barch Ph.D.)
Developmental Neuroscience and Child Psychopathology
1T32MH100019-01
2013-2023

P.I.
A Randomized Controlled Trial of PCIT-ED for Preschool Depression
1R01MH098454-01A1
2013-2019

P.I. (with Deanna Barch, Ph.D.)
Neuroimaging in Early Onset Depression: Longitudinal Assessment of Brain Changes
2R01MH090786-06
2015-2020

Co-I. (John Constantino, M.D. and Bradley L Schlaggar, M.D., PhD P.I’s)
Washington University Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center
5 U54 HD087011-02
2015-2020

Co-P.I. (with Barbara Warner, M.D., and Christopher Smyser, M.D.)
Early Life Adversity, Biological Embedding, and Risk for Developmental Precursors of Mental Disorders
1 R01 MH113883-01
2018-2023

Co-P.I. (with Barbara Warner, M.D.)
The Gut Microbial Contribution to Systemic Inflammation and Moderating Role of Psychosocial Stress
Children’s Discovery Institute Interdisciplinary Research Initiative Grant
2018-2021

Co-P.I. (with Deanna Barch, Ph.D.)
The Developmental Psychopathology of Suicidal Ideations and Cognitions in Childhood
1R01MH117436-01A1
($2,492,028)
2019-2024