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Mark D. Kvarta, MD

Academic Title:

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:


Education and Training

  • Cornell University, BA, Biological Sciences, Concentration in Neurobiology & Behavior, 2008
  • University of Maryland Baltimore, PhD, Neuroscience, 2015
  • University of Maryland School of Medicine, MD, 2017
  • University of Maryland Medical Center & Sheppard-Pratt Hospital, Physician Scientist Training Program & General Psychiatry Residency Training, 2021


My translational research focuses on how stress affects our neurobiological framework to underlie key symptoms of depression and other serious mental illness. I focus on linking neuroimaging, neuroendocrine, and genetic measures to clinical measures of depression and stress in humans. I aim to increase our knowledge of how exactly stress across the lifetime changes our brains to cause specific symptoms and ultimately create a path for developing and understanding better treatments.

Research/Clinical Keywords

psychiatry, stress, treatment-resistant depression, neuroimaging, brain MRI, neurogenetics, anhedonia, novel antidepressants, brain and behavior

Highlighted Publications


  • Kvarta MD*, Chiappelli J*, West J, Hong LE, et al. Aberrant Cingulate Processing of Anticipated Threat as a Mechanism for Psychosis. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
  • Kvarta MD, Bruce, HA, Hong LE et al. Multiple Dimensions of Stress vs. Genetic Effects on Depression. Translational Psychiatry. 2021 Apr 29;11(1)254.
  • LeGates TA & Kvarta MD. Illuminating a path from light to depression [News & Views]. Nat Neurosci. 2020 Jul;23(7):785-787.
  • LeGates TA, Kvarta MD, Francis TC, Lobo MK, Thompson SM. Synaptic plasticity at the hippocampus-nucleus accumbens synapse facilitates reward and is altered in response to chronic stress. Nature. 2018 Dec;564(7735):258-262.
  • Kvarta MD, Bradbrook KE, Dantrassy HM, Bailey AM, Thompson SM. Corticosterone mediates the synaptic effects of chronic stress at rat hippocampal temporoammonic synapses. Journal of Neurophysiology 2015 Sep;114(3):1713-24
  • Cai X, Kallarackal AJ, Kvarta MD, Goluskin S, Gaylor KE, Bailey AM, Lee HK, Huganir RL, Thompson SM. Local potentiation of excitatory synapses by serotonin and its dysregulation in rodent models of depression. Nature Neuroscience. 2013 Apr;16(4):464-72.
  • Kallarackal AJ*, Kvarta MD*, Camaratta E, Jaberi L, Cai X, Bailey AM, Thompson SM. Selective stress-mediated decrease in AMPA receptor-mediated synaptic excitation at hippocampal temporoammonic-CA1 synapses in a rat model of depression. Journal of Neuroscience. 2013 Oct; 33(40):15669-15674.

    *-equal contributions