Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

Current Study Listings

We currently have many research studies offering treatments for individuals who have symptoms of depression.

Medication-Based Studies

Several of our medication-based studies are exploring the use of a new medication in combination with an already prescribed antidepressant medication. These studies are for individuals who have not received enough benefit from the antidepressant medications that they are currently taking.

Trial of Rapid-acting Intranasal Esketamine for Treatment-resistant Major Depressive Disorder (TRANSFORM-2)

We are currently enrolling participants for a clinical research study to look at the effectiveness and safety of an investigational medication (given as a nasal spray) in patients with depression who have not responded to prior treatment with at least two antidepressants. If you are eligible for this study and choose to participate, you will receive all study visits and study-related medical care at no cost to you.

There are three phases in the study:

  • A screening phase of up to 7 weeks
  • A 4-week treatment phase
  • A 24-week follow-up phase

Some patients will be given the option to continue treatment in another study and will not have a follow-up phase. Patients who do not have a follow-up phase will be in the study for 11 weeks; all other patients will be in the study for 35 weeks.

To be considered for this study, you must be:

  • 18 to 64 years old
  • Diagnosed with depression
  • Experiencing depression symptoms despite having taken two antidepressant medications in the past
  • Comfortable with using a nasal spray
  • Able to provide written consent to participate in the study

The study doctor will discuss additional requirements for being in the study with you.


A Relapse Prevention Study Evaluating the Efficacy of Vortioxetine in Adults with Major Depressive Disorder

This study is being conducted to evaluate the long-term maintenance effects of individuals treated with vortioxetine (aka, Brintellix) in the prevention of depression relapse. Participants will be enrolled into a 8-16 weeks open-label treatment period. During the open-label period, all subjects will receive 10 mg Vortioxetine. At the end of the open label patients have option to go into 16 -52 week, double blind study to assess the Efficacy and Safety of Vortioxetine (5, 10 and 20 mg) in Adults with MDD.


A Clinical Trial of Switching to Vilazodone for Antidepressant-Associated Sexual Dysfunction

This is a research study for an antidepressant called vilazodone, which is suspected to have fewer negative effects on sexual functioning than other medications that are used to treat depression. Vilazodone is commercially available under the name Viibryd™. Currently, vilazodone has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for major depressive disorder. This study will measure any improvement in the sexual side effects that may occur in patients who are switched to vilazodone or sertraline.

The purpose of this study is to help answer the following questions:

  • Do patients with sexual dysfunction from taking an antidepressant who are switched to vilazodone have greater improvement in sexual functioning than those patients who are switched to sertraline?
  • Can vilazodone help patients with major depressive disorder as well as the antidepressant that the patient was taking to treat the disorder?


Therapy-Based Studies


The purpose of this research study is to determine the effectiveness of computer-assisted cognitive-behavior therapy for the treatment of depression. The computer program is called Good Days Ahead (GDA). It is a web-based multimedia program that provides 8 sessions of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, an effective psychotherapy for treatment of depression. GDA is designed to help people learn the basic principles of cognitive-behavior therapy and build skills to help reduce their depression. Typically, it takes a person 1 hour to complete each of the 8 sessions. Because GDA is an internet based therapy, it does not require a therapist to deliver the treatment so is less costly and can be more widely used.

We want to learn whether people with HIV like the treatment and how it effects their depression. Your involvement in the study will last between 9 and 17 weeks depending on the treatment group to which you are assigned. The entire study will take about 9 months to complete. This study has two parts: screening/baseline and the 8-week CCBT treatment with Good Days Ahead. Half of the participants will get CCBT immediately following the screening /baseline visit. The other half of participants will wait 8 weeks before starting CCBT.


Observational Studies


This study is being done to collect information related to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). You will be asked to complete questionnaires about your symptoms and functioning, information about your daily activity and sleep quality, and provide speaking samples that will allow us to examine your speech and voice characteristics. All of these factors will be examined to see if any of them can be used to predict worsening of depression at some future time.

You will be in the study for about 13 months. The study is designed to follow all subjects until a total of 150 people have had a relapse (when all the symptoms of depression return).  Based on when this number is achieved, there may be a chance that you will be asked to participate for longer than 13 months, or shorter than 13 months.


How to Participate in These Studies

In order for you to participate, you must first complete a pre-screen set of questionnaires to determine if you might benefit from one of these studies. You may complete this screening online by clicking here or you may call us at 215-898-4301 to complete a pre-screen telephone interview. Once this is completed, a study coordinator will either schedule you with one of our doctors or refer you to a more suitable treatment center.

If you do not qualify for one of our research studies now, we will keep your information so that we may contact you in the future about new studies.

We also collaborate on the following studies:

  • The Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program treats and studies sleep disorders, primarily insomnia.  We provide not only the highest standard of care for Insomnia (both with cognitive behavioral treatment of insomnia, CBT-I, and/or Pharmacotherapy) but also provide for a full spectrum of non-drug interventions for most of the non-medical sleep disorders.  For more information visit: or call 215-7-insomn (215-746-7666)
  • Mindfulness and Cognitive Therapy: We also collaborate with psychologists who are exploring the use of mindfulness in the treatment of acute health problems, depression and anxiety.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 215-898-4301.

Back to Top