The Brain Health Initiative

Our Team


Scientific Team

The Brain Health Study at Lakewood Ranch is led by a team of Harvard University-affiliated researchers and clinicians from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Academy for Brain Health and Performance (ABHP).  

Stephanie Peabody, PSYD, HSPP, Neuropsychologist, Executive Director

Stephanie Peabody is the Founding Director of the ABHP. Dr. Peabody has over 20 years of experience as a clinician and program designer, consistently working to improve outcomes in brain health, development, aging, and performance. All of her work is focused on creating and implementing programs for immediate application. In 2009, Stephaniewas awarded a visiting scholar appointment at Harvard University to extend her vision of promoting a holistic approach to optimizing brain health, performance, and overall well-being in order to have significant, large-scale impact at the community level.  Dr. Peabody conceived the Lakewood Ranch Study of Brain Health project and is responsible for oversight of its elements.


Erin Dunn, ScD, MPH, Epidemiologist, Director of Research

Erin Dunn is a social and psychiatric epidemiologist with expertise in genetics and epigenetics.  Her research laboratory uses interdisciplinary approaches to better understand the social and biological factors that influence brain health across the lifespan, with a focus on how these factors interact early in life.  Dr. Dunn is currently an Assistant Professor at MGH and Harvard Medical School and is affiliated with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard, and the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health at MGH.  She has received numerous awards for her research, including recognitions from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.  In 2017, she received a National Institute of Mental Health-funded Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS).  In 2018, she was awarded a Rising Star award from One Mind.  Dr. Dunn is responsible for conceptualizing and implementing all aspects related to the scientific vision of this study.


Ana-Maria Vranceanu, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Director of Community Intervention Development & Implementation

Dr. Ana-Maria Vranceanu is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School. Trained as a clinical health psychologist, she has expertise in designing novel skills-based interventions to optimize brain health and prevent brain disease. She founded and directs the Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program within the Department of Psychiatry at MGH. Dr. Vranceanu teaches workshops on the development and rigorous testing of skills interventions nationally and internationally. She has published over 130 articles and book chapters and has been principal investigator on 14 foundation and federally funded grants. Dr. Vranceanu is responsible for the design and conduct of rigorous clinical trials focused on preserving and optimizing brain health.


Shelley Carson, PhD, Psychologist, Director of Survey Development

Dr. Shelley Carson received her PhD in psychology from Harvard University in 2001, where she conducts research, teaches, and advises students. Her research on creativity, psychopathology, and resilience has been widely published in both national and international scientific journals, and her findings have been featured on the Discovery Channel, CNN, NPR, the BBC, and Radio Free Europe. In addition, Dr. Carson’s work has been noted in magazines such as Newsweek, Scientific American, and Psychology Today. Dr. Carson has served as a senior consultant and subject matter expert for a U.S. Department of Defense project, which provides innovative online mental health assistance to service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Carson also writes a popular psychology blog and has published an award-winning book on creativity. Dr. Carson is responsible for designing and facilitating access to online survey instruments that will deliver evidence-based measures of scientific interest in all phases of this study.


Heidi Hanna, PhD, Director of Corporate & Media Relations

Dr. Heidi Hanna is the Chief Energy Officer of Synergy Brain Fitness, a company providing brain-based health and performance programs to individuals and organizations, the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for the American Institute of Stress, and a Founding Partner of the Academy for Brain Health and Performance. She is a NY Times bestselling author of several books, including The Sharp Solution, Stressaholic, and Recharge.  Heidi has been featured at many global conferences including the Fortune Magazine Most Powerful Women in Business Summit, ESPN Leadership Summit and the Million Dollar Round Table.  Her clients have included Google, Starbucks, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, and WD40 as well as the PGA Tour and the National Football League. Heidi is also a Certified Humor Professional with the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor.  She holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling and a PhD in holistic nutrition and is currently pursuing a second PhD at Pepperdine University in Global Leadership and Change. Dr. Hanna is responsible for programs related to stress management, resilience, corporate health and performance, media and public relations. Her previous work with professional athletes in addition to her own career at an elite college level, will also enable her to offer assistance with professional sports training on and off the field.


Leslie Williamson, PROJECT MANAGER


Leslie Williamson, ABHP Co-Founder and President, is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for School Success (CSS), whose mission is to help students who struggle with learning, achieve measurable success in school and in life. She and her colleagues at CSS have also developed a holistic assessment tool for school-aged children that measures the interrelated risk and protective factors that can impact a child's learning and health.  In addition, she has spearheaded several community-based projects aimed at fostering commitment to the healthy development of youth using an asset approach. Ms. Williamson brings to the Lakewood Ranch Pilot project her experience as a project coordinator and contributor to a National Institutes of Health study on improving the conceptualization and measurement of children’s health, well-being, and learning outcomes. She is responsible for managing the successful initiation, planning, and execution of project activities.


Scientific Advisory Board

The overall scientific direction of The Brain Health Study at Lakewood Ranch is being guided by a scientific advisory board, comprising world-renowned experts spanning multiple disciplines related to brain health. 


Lakewood Ranch Brain Health Coalition Members


The Lakewood Ranch Brain Health Coalition are project champions, working to support the overall mission of this study and build a culture of brain health and well-being at Lakewood Ranch. More than 20 organizations are currently part of this coalition.

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