Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Center for Psychotherapy Research

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Penn Mental Health AIDS Research Center

Center for Psychotherapy Research Director, Paul Crits-Christoph, PhD, is the director of the Clinical Assessment Core of the Penn Mental Health AIDS Research Center (PMHARC).


What is PMHARC?

Overview

The overarching theme of the Penn Mental Health AIDS Research Center (PMHARC) at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is to transform how individuals with comorbid mental illness and HIV/AIDS are treated and managed by developing innovative, interdisciplinary, and integrative approaches to optimize psychiatric, behavioral, and medical outcomes and achieving a better understanding of the biological, psychological, and behavioral mechanisms underlying these combined illnesses and treatments. The PMHARC has 5 Specific Aims, which are closely aligned with the mission of the NIMH and the Division of AIDS Research. These are to:

  • Establish an organizational structure and build capacity at Penn/CHOP that will foster innovative, interdisciplinary and synergistic basic, clinical, behavioral, and translational research collaborations and programs around the central theme of mental illness/AIDS to facilitate studies across the life cycle, including children, adolescents, pregnant women, adults, and the geriatric population.

  • Create shared Core research resources that will facilitate the conduct of novel, integrative approaches to the simultaneous treatment and management of mental illness and HIV/AIDS.

  • Promote the recruitment and professional development of pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees, as well as junior and senior faculty, in pursuing new research programs focused on outcomes in HIV-infected mentally ill patients, with special focus on engaging more under-represented minorities and women in Center activities and enhancing the cultural competency of Center studies.

  • Stimulate and fund pilot research studies in support of new opportunities for extramural funding in areas related to the central theme of the Center.

  • Contribute to the scientific productivity and impact of the NIMH HIV/AIDS Research Center Program by specifically focusing on the mentally ill and promoting collaborative research among other Centers.


Center Description and Mission

PMHARC’s core mission and integrating theme is to implement innovative studies to transform how people with both mental illness (e.g., depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], cognitive dysfunction, and substance abuse) and HIV/AIDS are treated and managed to optimize psychiatric, behavioral, and medical outcomes and achieve a better understanding of the biological, psychological, and behavioral mechanisms underlying these combined illnesses and treatments.

PMHARC will identify new investigators (those not yet R grant PIs) in comorbid mental illness/AIDS and encourage well-established investigators in these areas to transition to integrative mental illness/AIDS research. This will create new collaborative relationships and stimulate new research directions. PMHARC will merge Penn/CHOP’s outstanding research strengths in mental illness and HIV/AIDS to pursue innovative, integrated treatments for these comorbid disorders.


The Clinical Assessment Core

The Clinical Assessment Core assists investigators in recruiting patients for clinical studies, provides trained diagnosticians/evaluators to conduct clinical assessments in Center studies, and oversees administration of a core battery of behavioral measures.

Director: Paul Crits-Christoph, PhD
Co-Directors: Pablo Tebas MD and Robert Gross, MD, MSCE
Co-investigator: Dennis Kolson MD


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To learn more about our current treatment programs, research protocols, or to ask specific questions about the Center, please call us at 215-349-5222.