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Brian Sweis

2023 Leon Levy Scholar

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Advisor: Dr. Eric Nestler)

Sub-disciplinary Category

Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience

Previous Positions

  • BS, Loyola University Chicago
  • MD, University of Minnesota
  • PhD, University of Minnesota (Advisor: Dr. Mark J. Thomas and Dr. David Redish)
  • Resident, Mount Sinai Hospital


Dr. Brian Sweis is a first-generation Arab-American. He earned his B.S./B.A. in Biology and Psychology with minors in Neuroscience and Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago. He completed his M.D./Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota where he studied complex decision-making in preclinical animal models used for the study of psychiatric disorders. He leveraged cross-species approaches in neuroeconomics to study evolutionarily conserved mechanisms underlying decision biases that could potentially drive maladaptive behaviors. Dr. Sweis’ work, funded by NIMH and NIDA, resulted in several breakthroughs on the topics of counterfactual thinking, regret, and sensitivity to sunk costs, including publications in Science, being awarded the Lindsley Prize from the Society for Neuroscience, as well as being listed on Forbes 30 Under 30. Dr. Sweis is continuing these efforts during his clinical training in psychiatry at Mount Sinai where he is mentored by Drs. Eric Nestler, Denise Cai, Scott Russo, and Helen Mayberg.

Research Summary

Combining neuroeconomics and transcriptomics to examine decision-making dysfunction underlying regret processing in rodent stress models.

Technical Overview

Understanding the neurobiology of depression is essential for developing new and better diagnostic tools and treatment strategies. As a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Dr. Brian Sweis studies how stress can alter the way the brain makes complex decisions. His recent breakthroughs include being able to model in animals how individuals register, react to, and learn from complex emotional states such as regret. This includes studying how the brain thinks about what one could have done differently after making mistakes. He proposes to leverage the rich behavioral data he can measure in mice using complex neuroeconomic decision-making tasks in combination with large-scale transcriptomics datasets in order to reconcile multi-dimensional factors regulating resilience versus susceptibility to chronic stress at the molecular, cellular, and circuit level. Dr. Sweis plans to manipulate key transcription factors in the brain that are strong drivers of either stress-susceptibility or stress-resilience and have been shown to regulate sensitivity to emotional stimuli but whose roles in more complex decision-making processes are unknown. Dr. Sweis’s approach will introduce an unprecedented level of richness and detail to studies of animal behavior used to model stress-related disorders and will have significant clinical implications for those struggling with illnesses such as depression.