Mclean Hospital
Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD

Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD

McLean Hospital Title:
Harvard Medical School Title:
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry


Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD, is the director of the Adult Borderline Center and Training Institute at McLean Hospital, now the Gunderson Personality Disorders Institute, renamed in memory of John Gunderson, MD, the former director. The Gunderson Institute includes intensive, specialized programs such as the Gunderson Residence and Gunderson Outpatient Program, as well as three insurance-based adult outpatient training clinics for mentalization-based treatment (MBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and DBT for post-traumatic stress disorder (DBT-PTSD).

In 2009, Dr. Choi-Kain developed the Gunderson Residence, an intensive, specialized residential program for adult women with severe personality disorders. The program integrates multiple evidence-based treatments for borderline personality disorder (BPD) in a rigorous and scientifically informed way. In 2013, Dr. Choi-Kain also founded the BPD Training Institute, a major center for proliferating evidence-based treatments for severe personality disorders. By providing education to clinicians, the institute aims to increase access to and quality of care for patients with BPD and related disorders.

Dr. Choi-Kain’s NIH Biosketch

Research Focus:

Dr. Choi-Kain actively conducts research and publishes original studies, reviews, and clinical perspectives on BPD and its evidence-based treatments. Her research focuses on personality disorders, attachment, psychotherapy, and implementation of care.

Through mentorship of post-doctoral fellows, residents, psychology interns, practicum students, Harvard Medical School students, research assistants, and college students, Dr. Choi-Kain has been involved in several research studies. She has collaborated with researchers studying comorbidities of BPD.

Dr. Choi-Kain’s lab, the Gunderson Personality Disorders Institute Research Program, is currently running a study in collaboration with Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, and Martin Bohus, MD. This research aims to assess factors that predict outcomes of dialectical behavior therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (DBT-PTSD), an evidence-based treatment for BPD and complex PTSD, using physiological and genetic information, brain imaging, and clinical assessment.

A large focus of her research is on access to care for patients with personality disorders. Recent research projects include an analysis across 21 countries that found a dearth of providers certified in “specialist” BPD treatments.

Dr. Choi-Kain and her lab staff have also been involved in a meta-analysis of treatment-as-usual (TAU) arms in trials of BPD treatments. This study found mild-to-moderate symptomatic improvement, indicating that TAU may be a viable treatment option for patients without alternatives.

Taken together, these findings pave the way for a BPD care landscape in which treatment is more accessible.

Dr. Choi-Kain’s other research topics include briefer forms of empirically validated treatments for BPD and the relationship between attachment, mentalization, and BPD. Other work involves treatments for narcissistic personality disorder and the development of adaptations of general psychiatric management to other settings and populations.


Borderline Personality DisorderDBT


  • Gabrielle Ilagan, Clinical Research Assistant


  • Martin Bohus, MD, Central Institute for Mental Health Mannheim, Germany
  • Patrick Charbon, MD, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Jennifer Fanning, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Eric Fertuck, PhD, City College of New York
  • Ellen Finch, Harvard University
  • Garrett M. Fitzmaurice, ScD, McLean Hospital
  • Leila Guller, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Jill Hooley, DPhil, Harvard University
  • Adam Jaroszewski, MA, Harvard University
  • Kristin N. Javaras, DPhil, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Stephane Kolly, MD, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Ueli Kramer, PhD, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Patrick Mair, PhD, Harvard University
  • Sara Masland, PhD, Pomona College
  • Erik Nook, MA, Harvard University
  • Daniel Price, MD, Maine Medical Center
  • D. Bradford Reich, MD, McLean Hospital
  • Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Tiffany Russell, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Anne Sonley, MD, JD, Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada

Selected Publications:

Choi-Kain LW, Fitzmaurice GM, Zanarini MC, Laverdière O, Gunderson JG. The relationship between self-reported attachment styles, interpersonal dysfunction, and borderline personality disorder. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 2009;197(11):816-21.

Choi-Kain LW, Albert EB, Gunderson JG. Evidence-based treatments for borderline personality disorder: implementation, integration, and stepped care. Harvard Review of Psychiatry 2016;24(5):342-56.

Iliakis EA, Sonley AKI, Ilagan GS, Choi-Kain LW. Treatment of borderline personality disorder: is supply adequate to meet public health needs? Psychiatric Services 2019;70(9):772-781.

PubMed search for Dr. Choi-Kain


Choi-Kain LW, Gunderson JG, eds. Borderline personality and mood disorders. NY: Springer, 2015.

Choi-Kain LW, Gunderson JG, eds. Applications of good psychiatric management for borderline personality disorder: a practical guide. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2019.

Education & Training:

  • 1996 AB in Social Studies, Harvard-Radcliffe College
  • 1998 MEd, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • 2002 Doctorate in Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University
  • 2002-2003 Internship in Preliminary Medicine, Carney Hospital
  • 2003-2006 Residency in Psychiatry, Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program, Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital
  • 2005-2006 Chief Administrative Resident, McLean Hospital
  • 2006-2008 Psychosocial Fellowship, McLean Hospital
  • 2006-2009 Program for Minority Research Training in Psychiatry (PMRTP) Fellowship, American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education (APIRE) and National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH)
Board Certifications:
  • 2005 Medical License, Board of Registration in Medicine, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • 2007, 2017 Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • 2008 Certification of Reliability, Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) by Drs. Mary Main and Eric Hesse, Teachers: Drs. Deanne and David Pedersen




Office Address:

Belmont campus - Administration Building, Room 210

Back to top