Psychiatry Clinical Studies and Research Projects

The Department of Psychiatry is committed to improving our understanding of disease, enhancing treatment options, and working to prevent mental illnesses. You can help by participating in clinical research.

Attention and Behavior Clinic

The Attention and Behavior Clinic (ABC) specializes in the assessment and treatment of aggression, defiance and other behavioral problems in youth 4 to 18 years old, and assessment for treatment of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) across the lifespan.

Services include assessment, parent support groups, individual and group counseling programs and medication treatment for ADHD and other behavioral disorders, such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD).

The Attention and Behavior Clinic also offers assessment and treatment for adolescents presenting with depression or anxiety.

Autism Research Projects

The Central Pennsylvania Regional Autism Partnership, an ASERT center, was established in December of 2008 through a generous grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare’s Bureau of Autism Services.

The bureau is intending to create three regional centers for Autism Service, Education, Research, and Training (ASERT) as a cost-effective way to address the chasm between research and quality diagnostic and intervention practices. The establishment of these three centers is a direct result of the work of the Autism Task Force, which recommended development and funding of regional centers as a means to leverage work from the research community.

Visit ASERT’s website

Mood Disorders Program

We are creating a comprehensive clinical program for patients with mood disorders and building an investigative program in translational research into the biological basis of bipolar disorder (BD).

We are using clinical subtypes such as sleep disturbance to guide investigations into biology. Sleep disturbance, migraine headaches, and mood are all linked to inflammatory and stress hormone pathways. Inflammation is central to creating oxidative stress in the brain that may worsen course of illness in BD. We are studying inflammation at several levels, including the polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 pathways, cytokines and general inflammation,functioning of micronutrients such as zinc in the brain, and interactions with the stress hormone pathways. We are probing genomic and gene expression markers as well. By understanding more about the relationship between different types of inflammatory systems, we will learn how we can use these markers to predict onset of episode or treatment response.

BD often has co-morbidity with other illnesses, and migraine headache is present in about 30 percent of people with BD. The neuropathology and pharmacotherapy of migraine and BD overlap. Both may involve polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism pathways and inflammation. With a grant from the Stanley Medical Research Institute, we are studying the effect of a dietary intervention to reduce inflammation adapted from a study of treatment of migraine headaches on mood stability and relapse, sleep, stress and functioning in BD patients. By understanding how biological factors influence clinical phenotype and outcome in BD, we aim to define subgroups of patients who have a more homogeneous biology of illness for predicting and following treatment response. We will then be able to apply the principles of personalized medicine to patients in the clinics suffering from BD.

Sleep Research and Treatment Center

The Sleep Research and Treatment Center (SRTC) provides for diagnostic evaluation and treatment of children and adults with specific sleep problems such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, as well as parasomnias. It serves as an educational resource for those in the medical profession and community at large. Further, the SRTC conducts ongoing scientific research to gain new knowledge in the areas of sleep disorders medicine.

Read more about the Sleep Research and Treatment Center.

Current Studies

View active mental and behavioral health clinical trials in StudyFinder, our searchable database of clinical research taking place at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine.

Learn More About Clinical Research

Contact Us

To speak to someone about our current studies, please call 717-531-8517.