Astoria teen named Intel finalist for psychiatric research

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Danielle Goldman, an Astoria student who attends Bronx High School of Science, was named a finalist Wednesday in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search contest for her research studying anxiety and depression.

Before learning that she had moved on to the finals, Goldman told the TimesLedger that she hoped she would have a chance to network with the other finalists if she made the next cut.

“I feel like it would be an amazing opportunity to meet all those students who share this passion,” Goldman said.

From a pool of 300 teenagers who were named semi-finalists in the highly competitive science contest, Goldman became one of the 40 to advance to finalist. As a finalist, Goldman will travel to Washington, D.C., in March and get the chance to win up to $1.25 million in scholarship money.

Goldman, a 17-year-old senior, said she applied to the school based on its reputation for students placing in the Intel contest. Since sophomore year, she has been conducting research for the contest into the role of GABA, a neurotransmitter, in major depressive and generalized anxiety disorders in adolescents.

“They are very similar, but they’re not often linked together or diagnosed correctly,” Goldman said.

She said both mental illnesses involve a level of anxiety, but in anxiety disorder the malaise puts them on edge whereas those suffering from depression become sadder and more passive. She said many adolescents have both disorders.

Goldman said three to four times a week after school she visited Dr. Vilma Gabbay, a research psychiatrist at the NYU Child Studies Center.

While there, Goldman and Gabbay would analyze data collected from measurements of different neurotransmitter levels, Gabbay’s interviews with patients and her patients’ personal ratings of their levels of depression and anxiety. The data came from 40 of Gabbay’s patients.

“I’m so grateful to work with my mentor,” Goldman said.

She said they found that lower levels of GABA correlated to a higher level of anxiety.

“I was able to see that it was common in both disorders,” Goldman said.

Before Bronx Science, Goldman attended PS 166 and PS/IS 122 in Astoria. She has lived in the neighborhood all her life with her father Gary and mother Ruth and has wanted to be a psychiatrist since she was young.

“I wanted to help other children with their problems,” she said.

Goldman said she has been accepted to and is planning to attend Columbia University for the neuroscience and psychology research done on campus.

“I feel it only furthers the opportunities I can have in the future,” she said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 1:35 am, January 26, 2012
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Reader feedback

eaglemustfly from USA says:
Signs of teen depression. In simple words.
Jan. 26, 2012, 5:02 am

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