Mental disorders range from potentially life-threatening disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression, to less debilitating but common conditions, such as anxiety and less severe mood disorders. These conditions take a toll not only on the sufferers themselves, but also on their families, caregivers, and society as a whole. Prevention, treatment, management, and rehabilitation of these conditions are imperative as part of comprehensive health care.
Mission & Vision
There are unprecedented opportunities to advance the science of behavior integration of new knowledge and technologies in the fields of neuroscience, genetics, and clinical investigation. Neuro-imaging technologies are beginning to reveal the neural circuitry that underlies susceptibility to addictive behaviors, appetite, and obesity; sleep and sleepiness; mood disorders; and other behavioral risk factors. Simultaneously, advances in statistical and molecular genetics are elucidating the genetic basis of individual differences in susceptibility to these disorders. Such research may lead to the development of new therapeutics, as well as the tailoring of prevention and treatment modalities based on individual differences in genotype and other bio-behavioral phenotypes. Behavioral medicine and addictions research at Penn leads the field in integrating these advances in basic science into behavioral medicine research and practice, and promote the successful diffusion of new prevention and treatment approaches from the laboratory, to the clinic and community.
Today, clinical research in the Department is devoted to understanding mental illnesses with the aim of decreasing their toll on patients, their families, and society. This scientific effort involves several strategies:
- Translational research where findings from basic neuroscience and behavioral research are used to develop clinical applications, and where clinical observations are back-translated into basic questions about mechanisms of disease and treatment response.
- Interventions research devoted to developing and testing biological and psychosocial interventions.
- Health services research that aims at translating findings from clinical studies into effective programs and systems of care for culturally diverse individuals across the lifespan.