Dr. Gisela Sandoval is a physician scientist with dual board certification who specializes in medical-psychiatric illness caring for individuals that suffer from medical conditions at the interface of medicine and psychiatry, which often requires complex chronic care. In addition she treats children with a broad range of psychiatric disorders including neurodevelopmental disorders, ADHD and mood and anxiety disorders in adolescents. She has a thorough and comprehensive way to approach her patients; she considers not only the clinical symptoms but also the impact of the family structure and the functioning of the child at school. Dr. Sandoval has a special interest in establishing standard of care guidelines to address the needs of chronically ill children to promote healthy habits and medical treatment compliance that promote health and decrease the burden of chronic medical and psychiatric illness.
Dr. Sandoval graduated with honors from the California Institute of Technology where she performed research in brain physiology and evolution. She earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School where she also completed a Ph.D. specializing in molecular neurobiology and genetics. Dr. Sandoval completed her residency in general psychiatry at the University of Chicago, during which she received the NIMH Outstanding Resident Award. She went on to complete a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency of Columbia and Cornell Universities. After training she became the Clinical Director of the Warren Wright Adolescent Center at Northwestern University developing a successful clinical program focused on early identification and intervention for adolescents at risk of mental illness before moving to Stanford.
Dr. Sandoval scientific interests focus on understanding the molecular, neurophysiological and neural circuits that are responsible for healthy brain development and behavior and understanding how these are altered in the developmental neuropsychiatric disorders resulting in pathological behaviors with the expectation that that could lead to new treatments. Furthermore, she is interested in identifying quantifiable metrics of behavior to better diagnosis mental illness by exploring the use of physical activity monitors to help assess the effectiveness of medical therapies.

Clinical Focus

  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Academic Appointments

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Member, History and Archives Committee, AACAP (2015 - Present)
  • Member, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2010 - Present)

Professional Education

  • Residency: University of Chicago Hospitals Internal Medicine Residency (2007) IL
  • Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2011)
  • Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Psychiatry (2009)
  • Fellowship: New York Presbyterian Hospital (2009) NY
  • Medical Education: Harvard Medical School (2004) MA

All Publications

  • Neuroanatomical abnormalities in fragile X syndrome during the adolescent and young adult years. Journal of psychiatric research Sandoval, G. M., Shim, S., Hong, D. S., Garrett, A. S., Quintin, E., Marzelli, M. J., Patnaik, S., Lightbody, A. A., Reiss, A. L. 2018; 107: 138–44


    Abnormal brain development and cognitive dysfunction have been reported both in children and in adults with fragile X syndrome (FXS). However, few studies have examined neuroanatomical abnormalities in FXS during adolescence. In this study we focus on adolescent subjects with FXS (N = 54) as compared to age- and sex-matched subjects with idiopathic intellectual disability (Comparison Group) (N = 32), to examine neuroanatomical differences during this developmental period. Brain structure was assessed with voxel-based morphometry and independent groups t-test in SPM8 software. Results showed that the FXS group, relative to the comparison group, had significantly larger gray matter volume (GMV) in only one region: the bilateral caudate nucleus, but have smaller GMV in several regions including bilateral medial frontal, pregenual cingulate, gyrus rectus, insula, and superior temporal gyrus. Group differences also were noted in white matter regions. Within the FXS group, lower FMRP levels were associated with less GMV in several regions including cerebellum and gyrus rectus, and less white matter volume (WMV) in pregenual cingulate, middle frontal gyrus, and other regions. Lower full scale IQ within the FXS group was associated with larger right caudate nucleus GMV. In conclusion, adolescents and young adults with FXS demonstrate neuroanatomical abnormalities consistent with those previously reported in children and adults with FXS. These brain variations likely result from reduced FMRP during early neurodevelopment and mediate downstream deleterious effects on cognitive function.

    View details for PubMedID 30408626

  • Life Course Challenges Faced by Siblings of Individuals with Schizophrenia May Increase Risk for Depressive Symptoms. Mental health in family medicine Smith, M. J., Greenberg, J. S., Sciortino, S. A., Sandoval, G. M., Lukens, E. P. 2016; 12 (1): 147-151


    Research suggests siblings of individuals with schizophrenia are at a heightened risk for depressive symptomatology. Research has not yet examined whether the strains of growing up with a brother or sister with schizophrenia contribute to this risk. This study examined whether early life course burdens associated with an emerging mental illness, and current objective and subjective caregiver burden predicted depressive symptoms in siblings of individuals with schizophrenia.Forty-one siblings of individuals with schizophrenia were recruited from a large study of schizophrenia neurobiology to complete a self-administered questionnaire and a neuropsychological test battery.Early life course burdens and current objective and subjective burdens explained incremental variance in depressive symptoms of siblings of individuals with schizophrenia after accounting for gender and global neurocognitive function. Higher levels of depressive symptoms among siblings were associated with perceptions of being stigmatized by the community (β=.37, p<.01), and perceiving that the brother or sister's emerging illness negatively impacted the sibling's social life during childhood and adolescence (β=.39, p<.01). Taking on adult responsibilities while the sibling was growing up was found to be protective against depressive symptoms in adulthood (β= -.36, p<.01).Early life course burdens associated with having a sibling with schizophrenia and current subjective burden provide insight into psychosocial factors that may contribute to the risk for depression in this sibling group. Mental health service providers and psychoeducation programs would benefit by considering these factors when developing family-based interventions.

    View details for PubMedID 27175217

  • A genetic interaction between the vesicular acetylcholine transporter VAChT/UNC-17 and synaptobrevin/SNB-1 in C. elegans NATURE NEUROSCIENCE Sandoval, G. M., Duerr, J. S., Hodgkin, J., Rand, J. B., Ruvkun, G. 2006; 9 (5): 599-601


    Acetylcholine, a major excitatory neurotransmitter in Caenorhabditis elegans, is transported into synaptic vesicles by the vesicular acetylcholine transporter encoded by unc-17. The abnormal behavior of unc-17(e245) mutants, which have a glycine-to-arginine substitution in a transmembrane domain, is markedly improved by a mutant synaptobrevin with an isoleucine-to-aspartate substitution in its transmembrane domain. These results suggest an association of vesicular soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive-factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) components with vesicular neurotransmitter transporters.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nn1685

    View details for Web of Science ID 000237417200007

    View details for PubMedID 16604067

  • Defective slow inactivation of sodium channels contributes to familial periodic paralysis NEUROLOGY Hayward, L. J., Sandoval, G. M., Cannon, S. C. 1999; 52 (7): 1447-1453


    To evaluate the effects of missense mutations within the skeletal muscle sodium (Na) channel on slow inactivation (SI) in periodic paralysis and related myotonic disorders.Na channel mutations in hyperkalemic periodic paralysis and the nondystrophic myotonias interfere with the normally rapid inactivation of muscle Na currents following an action potential. This defect causes persistent inward Na currents that produce muscle depolarization, myotonia, or onset of weakness. Distinct from fast inactivation is the process called SI, which limits availability of Na channels on a time scale of seconds to minutes, thereby influencing muscle excitability.Human Na channel cDNAs containing mutations associated with paralytic and nonparalytic phenotypes were transiently expressed in human embryonic kidney cells for whole-cell Na current recording. Extent of SI over a range of conditioning voltages (-120 to +20 mV) was defined as the fraction of Na current that failed to recover within 20 ms at - 100 mV. The time course of entry to SI at -30 mV was measured using a conditioning pulse duration of 20 ms to 60 seconds. Recovery from SI at -100 mV was assessed over 20 ms to 10 seconds.The two most common hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HyperPP) mutations responsible for episodic attacks of weakness or paralysis, T704M and M1592V, showed clearly impaired SI, as we and others have observed previously for the rat homologs of these mutations. In addition, a new paralysis-associated mutant, I693T, with cold-induced weakness, exhibited a comparable defect in SI. However, SI remained intact for both the HyperPP/paramyotonia congenita (PMC) mutant, A1156T, and the nonparalytic potassium-aggravated myotonia (PAM) mutant, V1589M.SI is defective in a subset of mutant Na channels associated with episodic weakness (HyperPP or PMC) but remains intact for mutants studied so far that cause myotonia without weakness (PAM).

    View details for Web of Science ID 000079903200025

    View details for PubMedID 10227633

  • A role for endothelial NO synthase in LTP revealed by adenovirus-mediated inhibition and rescue SCIENCE Kantor, D. B., Lanzrein, M., Stary, S. J., Sandoval, G. M., Smith, W. B., Sullivan, B. M., Davidson, N., Schuman, E. M. 1996; 274 (5293): 1744-1748


    Pharmacological studies support the idea that nitric oxide (NO) serves as a retrograde messenger during long-term potentiation (LTP) in area CA1 of the hippocampus. Mice with a defective form of the gene for neuronal NO synthase (nNOS), however, exhibit normal LTP. The myristoyl protein endothelial NOS (eNOS) is present in the dendrites of CA1 neurons. Recombinant adenovirus vectors containing either a truncated eNOS (a putative dominant negative) or an eNOS fused to a transmembrane protein were used to demonstrate that membrane-targeted eNOS is required for LTP. The membrane localization of eNOS may optimally position the enzyme both to respond to Ca2+ influx and to release NO into the extracellular space during LTP induction.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VW71200071

    View details for PubMedID 8939872