Philosophy of Care
My philosophy is first to be a good listener, to really appreciate the patient's perspective, their developmental background, and to approach children and those with disabilities at their level. I enjoy using humor and a casual style to connect with these patients. I always try to bring knowledge of disabilities through scientific inquiry into the assessment process.
Dr. Hessl is a licensed clinical psychologist with clinical interests involve cognitive, emotional, and behavioral evaluation of children, adolescents and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders, especially those with fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, Tourette Disorder and learning disabilities.
Dr. Hessl directs the Translational Psychophysiology and Assessment Laboratory (T-PAL) at the MIND Institute to investigate the emotional psychophysiology of children with neurodevelopmental disorders, and to develop novel outcome measures for clinical trials.
He also conducts collaborative studies with other researchers, investigating brain imaging, molecular genetics and neuropsychology in an effort to understand links between genetics, brain function and behavior. His research focus is primarily on fragile X-associated disorders, such as fragile X syndrome and fragile X-associated tremor ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). His lab has contributed to the refinement or development of cognitive and behavioral assessments for people with disabilities.
Ph.D., Child Clinical Psychology and Developmental Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle WA 1997
M.S., Child Clinical Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle WA 1995
B.A., UCLA, Los Angeles CA 1989
University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley CA 1997-1998
American Psychological Association
International Society for Autism Research
Honors and Awards
The John Merck Fun's Developmental Disabilities Translational Research Program Scholar, 2012
Jarrett Cole Clinical Award, National Fragile X Foundation, for “Dedicated Service to Families in the Worldwide Fragile X Community”, 2012
Dean’s Team Award for Excellence, U.C. Davis School of Medicine, 2009
U.C. Davis finalist – John Merck Scholars Program, Biology of Developmental Disabilities in Children, 2008
U.C. Davis Academic Senate Research Travel Award, 2008
MIND Institute Pilot Research Grant Award, 2007
U.C. Davis Imaging Research Center Award, 2006
Select Recent Publications
Greiss Hess L, Fitzpatrick SE, Nguyen DV, Chen Y, Gaul KN, Schneider A, Lemons Chitwood K, Eldeeb MA, Polussa J, Hessl D, Rivera S, Hagerman RJ. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Low-Dose Sertraline in Young Children With Fragile X Syndrome. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2016 Oct;37(8):619-28.
Hessl D, Sansone SM, Berry-Kravis E, Riley K, Widaman KF, Abbeduto L, Schneider A, Coleman J, Oaklander D, Rhodes KC, Gershon RC. The NIH Toolbox Cognitive Battery for intellectual disabilities: three preliminary studies and future directions. J Neurodev Disord. 2016 Sep 6;8(1):35.
Lozano R, Saito N, Reed D, Eldeeb M, Schneider A, Hessl D, Tassone F, Beckett L, Hagerman R. Aging in Fragile X Premutation Carriers. Cerebellum. 2016 Oct;15(5):587-94.
Gossett A, Sansone S, Schneider A, Johnston C, Hagerman R, Tassone F, Rivera SM, Seritan AL, Hessl D. Psychiatric disorders among women with the fragile X premutation without children affected by fragile X syndrome. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2016 Dec;171(8):1139-1147.
Schneider A, Johnston C, Tassone F, Sansone S, Hagerman RJ, Ferrer E, Rivera SM, Hessl D. Broad autism spectrum and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in adults with the fragile X premutation. Clin Neuropsychol. 2016 Aug;30(6):929-43.
Wang JY, Ngo MM, Hessl D, Hagerman RJ, Rivera SM. Robust Machine Learning-Based Correction on Automatic Segmentation of the Cerebellum and Brainstem. PLoS One. 2016 May 23;11(5):e0156123.
Cordeiro L, Abucayan F, Hagerman R, Tassone F, Hessl D. Anxiety disorders in fragile X premutation carriers: Preliminary characterization of probands and non-probands. Intractable Rare Dis Res. 2015 Aug;4(3):123-30.
Au J, Berkowitz-Sutherland L, Schneider A, Schweitzer JB, Hessl D, Hagerman R. A feasibility trial of Cogmed working memory training in fragile X syndrome. J Pediatr Genet. 2014 Sep;3(3):147-56.
Sansone SM, Schneider A, Bickel E, Berry-Kravis E, Prescott C, Hessl D. Improving IQ measurement in intellectual disabilities using true deviation from population norms. J Neurodev Disord. 2014;6(1):16.
Hessl D, Grigsby J. Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome: another phenotype of the fragile X gene. Clin Neuropsychol. 2016 Aug;30(6):810-4. doi: 10.1080/13854046.2016.1186661. Epub 2016 Jun 29.