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Nancy Raitano Lee, PhD

Assistant Professor

Nancy Lee Raitano
Office: Stratton 123E
Phone: 215.895.2937
Email: nancy.raitano.lee@drexel.edu
Curriculum Vitae: Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Research Interests

  • Neuropsychological and neuroanatomic correlates of intellectual and developmental disabilities

  • Verbal memory and language difficulties in Down syndrome and other genetic disorders
  • Comorbid autism spectrum disorder symptoms in youth with genetic disorders
  • Neuroanatomic correlates of individual differences in typical and atypical cognition


Biography

Nancy Raitano Lee, Ph.D. is a child clinical psychologist who specializes in developmental neuropsychology. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University and her doctorate in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver. Her clinical training includes the completion of a pre-doctoral internship at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities program. Following her training in psychology, she completed a fellowship in the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, MD focused on structural neuroimaging studies of typically and atypically developing youth.

As a child psychologist working within a developmental cognitive neuroscience framework, Dr. Lee’s program of research seeks to identify neuropsychological, neurobiological, and genetic contributions to typical and atypical cognitive development through studies of youth with developmental learning disorders and those with typical development. Much of her work over the past several years has focused on three interrelated areas of investigation: (1) refining descriptions of verbal memory and executive functions in Down syndrome, (2) studying the developing brain in Down syndrome, and (3) investigating genetic and neuroanatomical correlates of verbal and executive abilities as well as autistic symptoms in youth with typical development and those with sex chromosome aneuploidies.

Dr. Lee anticipates that her research program at Drexel will involve two complementary lines of investigation. The first focuses on characterizing the Down syndrome neuroanatomic phenotype using data collected from phase one of a recently completed structural neuroimaging – neuropsychology study that Dr. Lee initiated at the NIMH. This work will involve providing descriptions of cortical and subcortical anatomy, resting state functional networks (in collaboration with colleagues at NIMH), brain-behavior correlates, and neuropsychological profiles. Dr. Lee plans to apply for funding to follow this sample in order to describe brain and cognitive trajectories longitudinally.

The second line of investigation focuses on neuropsychological trajectories associated with good and poor cognitive and behavioral outcome in Down syndrome and other genetic disorders (using both cross-sectional and longitudinal study designs). In particular, Dr. Lee plans to extend her studies of cognitive functioning in Down syndrome to toddlerhood or even infancy to improve understanding of the lifespan trajectory of cognitive and behavioral development for this group. She also anticipates using newer methodologies with this population, such as statistical learning techniques, to test more mechanistic accounts of the etiology of the language learning difficulties in Down syndrome and other developmental disorders. Additionally, given the importance of understanding real-world functioning for individuals with intellectual disabilities, Dr. Lee hopes to collaborate with colleagues at Drexel who utilize virtual reality techniques to study cognition.

Taken together, Dr. Lee hopes that these two lines of inquiry will identify risk and resiliency factors that may be used as targets for intervention to augment cognitive abilities, reduce behavioral difficulties, and ultimately increase independent functioning for individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, the overarching goal of her research program.