Psychiatry Research Programs

Learn more about the research programs of the Department of Psychiatry.

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.

Social Skills Treatment for Girls with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Pilot Study

Contacts:

Dara Babinski, PhD – dbabinski@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 284369

Sara Mills, MS – smills1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285968

Brianna Bendixsen – bbendixsen@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285966

Gender: Female
Age: 7 to 11 years old
Healthy Volunteers: Not accepted
Interventions: Behavioral Social Skills Intervention and Parent Management Training
Conditions: ADHD

A Joint Intervention for Behavior and Sleep in School Aged Children (JIBS)

Contacts:

Sara Mills, MS – smills1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285968

Brianna Bendixsen – bbendixsen@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285966

Gender: Male or Female
Age: 5 to 10 years old
Healthy Volunteers: Not accepted
Interventions: Sleep and behavioral problems
Conditions: Attention and/or behavioral difficulties and a hard time falling asleep

A Novel Social Skills Intervention for Adolescent Girls with ADHD

Contacts:

Sara Mills, MS – smills1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285968

Brianna Bendixsen – bbendixsen@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285966

Gender: Female
Age: 12 to 16 years old
Healthy Volunteers: Not accepted
Interventions: Behavioral Social Skills Intervention
Conditions: ADHD

Reward and Punishment Sensitivity and Treatment Response in Children with Disruptive Behavior Disorders and Callous-Unemotional Traits

Contacts:

Sara Mills, MS – smills1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285968

Brianna Bendixsen – bbendixsen@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285966

Gender: Male or Female
Age: 7 to 12 years old
Healthy Volunteers: Not accepted
Interventions: Behavioral: Parent Management Training
Conditions: Attention and behavioral problems at home or school

Examining Mood and Social Functioning of Girls with ADHD

Contacts:

Sara Mills, MS – smills1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285968

Brianna Bendixsen – bbendixsen@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285966

Gender: Female
Age: 12 to 16 years old
Healthy Volunteers: Not accepted
Interventions: Behavioral Social Skills Intervention
Conditions: ADHD diagnosis OR possible symptoms without an official diagnosis

Inflammation and Neural Processing of Reward in Adolescent Depression

Contacts:

Ashley Carroll, MA – acarroll@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285965

Gender: Male or Female
Age: 12 to 17 years old
Healthy Volunteers: Accepted
Interventions: None
Conditions: With or without symptoms of depression

Neural Predictors of Response to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adolescent Depression

Contacts:

Ashley Carroll, MA – acarroll@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285965

Gender: Male or female
Age: 14 to 18 years old
Healthy Volunteers: Not accepted
Interventions: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for teen depression
Conditions: Teens with depressive symptoms

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 the Autism Central PA website

The Multi-Media Social Skills Project for Adults: Validation of an Intervention for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Contact: socialskills@pennstatehealth.psu.edu

Gender: Male or Female
Age: 18 to 35 years old
Healthy Volunteers: Accepted
Interventions: Behavioral Social Skills Intervention
Conditions: Autism along with typically-developing volunteers in the same age range

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.

Research programs include:

  • Active recruitment for our research program; please contact 717-531-4802 or bpresearch@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.
  • Penn State Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder, in collaboration with the University of Michigan Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Group.
  • Bipolar Disorder and Inflammation: “Are inflammatory and HPA axis markers abnormality patients with bipolar disorder who are manic or depressed, and are they modulated by treatment?”
  • Dietary Intervention in Bipolar Disorder.

Assessing Irritability in School Aged Children

Contacts:

Usman Hameed, MD – uhameed@pennstatehealth.psu.edu

Cheryl Dellasega, PhD – cdellasega@pennstatehealth.psu.edu

Survey strictly for physicians
Interventions: Behavioral Social Skills Intervention, Assessing Mental Health

A Pilot Trial of Subtyping Pediatric Conduct Problems by the Presence of Severe Persistent Irritability and Callous Unemotional Traits

Contacts:

Sara Mills, MS – smills1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285968

Brianna Bendixsen – bbendixsen@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-0003, ext. 285966

Gender: Male or Female
Age: 7 to 12 years old
Healthy Volunteers: Accepted
Interventions: Anger; aggression; irritability; behavior problems; severe mood dysregulation
Conditions: Children with and without conduct problems, persistent irritability, mood disorder

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.

Study of Inflammation in Mild-to-Moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Contact: Carrie Criley, BS (Research Coordinator) – ccriley@pennstatehealth.psu.edu

Gender: Male or Female
Age: 18 to 100 years old
Healthy Volunteers: Not accepted
Conditions: Obstructive Sleep Apnea