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Meet the PI

Headshot of a brunette woman, Sarah Nelson.

Sarah Nelson, PhD - Principal Investigator

Sarah Nelson, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an Attending Psychologist in the Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital. Her research focuses on the incidence rate and correlates of adverse childhood experiences in pediatric chronic pain populations and on the neurobiological mechanisms of psychological stress, including allostatic load, in pediatric chronic pain. She is the past recipient of a Boston Children's Hospital Office of Faculty Development Career Development Award and a current recipient of a five-year K23 award from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which is the first clinical trial to examine the neurobiological mechanisms of stress and mind-body interventions in youth with chronic widespread pain.


Meet the Team

Samantha headshot, a woman with dark hair has a closed mouth smile as she stares at the camera.

Samantha Bento, PhD
Co-Investigator and Collaborator

Samantha P. Bento, Ph.D. is an attending psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Instructor at Harvard Medical School. Sam earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, specializing in behavioral medicine and pediatric psychology, from UMBC. She completed her psychology residency at Duke University Medical Center and her post-doctoral fellowship in pediatric pain at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Her research interests include pediatric pain management (with a specific interest in cancer pain), psychoneuroimmunology, and the psychosocial functioning and coping mechanisms of children diagnosed with a chronic illness.




Jenny Kim
Clinical Research Coordinator

Jenny graduated from Boston University in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience and a minor in Psychology. She is currently the coordinator for PASS lab's fMRI study that is learning how pain and stress interact in the brain in the adolescent population. Jenny is also working on another neuroimaging (fMRI and fNIRS) study investigating the functional and structural changes in patients with endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain.


Naz Akdilek, MA

Research Intern

Sarah Merisier, BA

Research Intern