Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Research Programs

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Clinical Research Programs


Center on the Continuum of Care in the Addictions
The Center on the Continuum of Care in the Addictions, under the direction of James R. McKay, PhD, was established in 2005 to further the development and evaluation of adaptive approaches to the delivery of treatment across the continuum of care. This Center represents a collaboration between the Department of Psychiatry, the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Treatment Research Institute (TRI), in order to take advantage of complementary strengths in these groups.

 


Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction
The Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction (CIRNA), under the direction of Caryn Lerman, Ph.D., aims to translate discoveries in basic neuroscience, pharmacology, genetics, and behavioral science to improve treatment for nicotine dependence. The PENN CIRNA is currently conducting several research projects that focus on different aspects of nicotine dependence, including pharmacotherapy, medication development, genetics, and neuro-imaging. These studies draw upon the expertise of researchers from a variety of disciplines, including psychology, genetics, neuroscience, pharmacology, medicine, epidemiology, communication, and public policy.

 

Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research
The Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, under the direction of Trevor R. Hadley, Ph.D., seeks to answer policy questions related to the appropriate distribution of public resources and the development of high-quality interventions for consumers who are likely to be long-term recipients of mental health care. The City of Philadelphia uses the Center as its “think tank” on health services delivery policy and the Center and its leadership are widely recognized in the region and the nation for the breadth and depth of their expertise.



Center for the Prevention of Suicide

The Center for the Prevention of Suicide at the University of Pennsylvania was founded to develop empirically supported therapies for the prevention of suicide attempts in high risk populations. Current research is focused on the effectiveness of cognitive therapy interventions administered in community settings.

 

Center for Psychotherapy Research
The Center for Psychotherapy Research, under the direction of Paul Crits-Christoph, Ph.D., has been the only NIMH-funded center directed to the study of the mechanisms of effective psychotherapy treatment. For more than 10 years, the Center has led the way in the study of psychotherapy treatments for psychiatric disorders with and without pharmacotherapy.

 

Center for Studies of Addiction/Treatment Research Center
The Center for Studies of Addiction/Treatment Research Center (TRC) directed by Charles O’Brien, M.D., Ph.D., is an outpatient addiction treatment and research facility which is funded by federal grants and pharmaceutical contracts. The TRC aims to better understand the genetic, behavioral, and environmental causes of addiction.  Investigators evaluate the effectiveness of new approaches to treating addictions namely, cocaine, nicotine, alcohol, cannabis and opiate dependence.

 

Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety
The Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety, under the direction of Edna B. Foa, Ph.D., focuses on the development and testing of treatments for various anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and generalized social phobia (GSP).

 

Center for Weight and Eating Disorders
The Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, under the direction of Thomas Wadden, Ph.D, and Albert Stunkard, M.D. (Director Emeritus), aims to better understand the genetic, medical, and behavioral factors involved with weight disorders, and to study the efficacy of weight management treatments across patient populations.  The philosophy of the Center is simple and straightforward – overweight persons should be treated professionally and compassionately.  For over 45 years, the Center has focused its research on the causes and treatments of weight and weight-related disorders.


Child and Adolescent OCD, Tic, Trich & Anxiety Group
The Child & Adolescent OCD, Tic, Trich & Anxiety Group (The COTTAGe), led by Dr. Martin Franklin, is a specialty clinic in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania for children and adolescents with OCD, Tic Disorders, Trichotillomania, Anxiety and related disorders.

Delaware Valley Node
The Delaware Valley Node has been a part of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network since its onset in September 1999 with the goal of forging partnerships to improve the quality of drug abuse treatment in our region and throughout the nation. The DV Node is a collaboration of the Regional Research and Training Center at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and twelve affiliated community treatment programs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

 

Depression Research Unit
The Depression Research Unit, under the direction of Jay D. Amsterdam, M.D., focuses on severe and refractory depression. During the course of over 20 years, the DRU has conducted more than 100 treatment outcome studies, including more than 70 phase II-IV pivotal drug trials with antidepressants, anxiolytics, and mood stabilizers. In recent years, the DRU has received significant NIH research funding, as well as pharmaceutical industry grants and funding from the Stanley Research Foundation.

 

Geriatric Psychiatry Section
The Geriatric Psychiatry Section conducts patient-oriented and practice research on late-life depression, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, alcohol abuse, and delirium. Clinical research is conducted through the Penn Memory Center (Steven E. Arnold, M.D., Ph.D., Director), and in collaboration with the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

 

HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Division
The HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Division, under the direction of David Metzger, PhD, works to develop and evaluate interventions designed to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood-borne infections among injection and non-injection drug users. The Division promotes the application of scientifically sound data in the development of public health policies designed to respond to the HIV epidemic among drug users.

 

Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program
The Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, directed by Michael Thase, M.D. and Karl Rickels, M.D., studies anxiety and depression throughout the lifespan-from childhood through adulthood. The focus of research is studying causes and treatments of depression and anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety, social phobia, panic disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. By studying both marketed and investigational medications, our researchers are working to establish the safety and effectiveness of new medications as well as look for better and/or new ways to use and prescribe current medications.

 

Neuropsychiatry Program
The Neuropsychiatry Program, under the direction of Raquel E. Gur, M.D., Ph.D., integrates basic and clinical neuroscience research to help elucidate neural substrates of schizophrenia. The Neuropsychiatry Program includes two complementary and interactive research programs which examine brain behavior relations in clinical and healthy populations: the Neuroscience Schizophrenia Center (Raquel E. Gur, M.D., Ph.D., Director) and the Brain Behavior Laboratory (Ruben C. Gur, Ph.D., Director).

 


Penn Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness

The Penn Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness, under the direction of C. Neill Epperson, MD, is a collaboration between the Departments of Psychiatry and Obstetrics/Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The PCWBW provides clinical consultation and treatment, as well as opportunities to participate in research focusing on conditions related to women's behavioral health across the lifespan; from menarche to menopause.

 

Unit for Experimental Psychiatry
The Unit for Experimental Psychiatry, under the direction of David F. Dinges, Ph.D., is an integrated group of scientific investigators, focused on achieving creative and practical solutions to problems involving human health and safety in relation to sleep need, sleep disorders, circadian rhythms, work demands, fatigue, and vulnerability to emotional disturbance, memory distortions, pain, and other sources of stress or discomfort. Studies are conducted on both healthy individuals and patient populations for two primary purposes:

  • To identify the physical, behavioral, emotional and psychological effects of sleep disturbance, sleep deprivation, and circadian disruption brought about by life style, work schedules, diseases, medical treatments, and environmental and genetic factors; and
  • To discover new ways to effectively prevent and treat neurobehavioral, neuroendocrine, neuroimmune and psychophysiological impairments from sleep loss, sleepiness, fatigue and related stressors, and their adverse effects on health, behavior, and safety, using novel behavioral, pharmacological, and technological countermeasures.

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