Our Team

Elisabeth Headshot

Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Dr. Elisabeth Dykens has been working with individuals with disabilities since 1978.  From her training as a doctoral student at Yale Child Studies Center and then on the Psychiatry faculty at UCLA from 1997-2003 she has worked with children and adults with developmental disorders. She worked in the Neuropsychiatric Institute Clinic with individuals and their families who experienced emotional and behavioral problems. She is licensed in Tennessee as a Clinical Psychologist. She is the key investigator on Trajectories of Phenotypic Behavior in Prader-Willi Syndrome, an NICHD funded 5 year longitudinal continuation study looking at behavior and development in individuals with PWS across time and lifespan. She is the Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and oversees all aspects of the research program in Prader-Willi syndrome. She is interested in individuals with genetic syndromes and how the strengths and weaknesses that are characteristic of these syndromes may be related to different environment and genetic influences.  Biographical Sketch

Elizabeth Headshot

Elizabeth Roof, H.S.P., M.A., Senior Research Specialist, Research Lab Director

Elizabeth Roof has worked with children and teens with PWS for almost 30 years at Vanderbilt University. Elizabeth has been licensed since 1994 as a Health Service Provider in Psychology in the state of Tennessee and has been doing research with Elisabeth Dykens since 2003, focused on the psychiatric, behavioral and adaptive strengths in PWS and WS. Elizabeth has personally evaluated over 450 individuals with PWS and WS.  Elizabeth has trained 27 research staff over the years, who take that expertise with them to graduate, medical, and nursing school, and out into the real world. Elizabeth also works with residential and clinical professionals and schools to provide best practices for those living with PWS and WS. Elizabeth has managed 5 NIH trials and 11 clinical trials in PWS since 2014 and works with sponsors to identify best outcome measures, study designs, and logistics that best suit PWS families. Elizabeth has spoken at PWS and WS conferences across the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. She loves meeting new families and continuing to have lasting relationships with many families over the years. Training videos are on YouTube and can be accessed here. For consultation help, please email her at elizabeth.roof@vanderbilt.edu.

Annika Headshot 2

Annika Simpson, B.S., Research Assistant I

Annika Simpson graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and History from Belmont University in May 2022 and is now at Vanderbilt as a Research Assistant. In her time at Vanderbilt, Annika has worked on three clinical trials, evaluated music campers, and helped edit the BOSS curriculum book published through FPWR. She is so grateful for the opportunity to meet, learn from, and grow with the PWS and WS communities. In the future, Annika plans to go to graduate school for counseling psychology where she can learn to combine traditional trauma therapies with animal-assisted interventions.


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