Research — Psychiatry

Andrey Anokhin, PhD – Genetics of the Brain, Behavior, and Psychopathology
Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) Building, Suite 1, 660 S. Euclid Ave

This Research Elective is intended for students interested in cognitive neuroscience, biological psychology, psychophysiology, and behavior genetics in relation to psychopathology. Dr. Anokhin’s laboratory is investigating relationships between genes, brain, and behavior in order to better understand complex etiology of mental disorders. Our main focus is on “externalizing” spectrum of psychopathology characterized by deficits in inhibitory self-regulation including ADHD, conduct disorder, and addictive behaviors. We are particularly interested in the intermediate phenotypes, or “endophenotypes”, mediating genetic risk for addiction such as impulsivity, risk taking, and abnormal affective processing of social-emotional information. In our laboratory-based studies with human volunteers, including twins, we investigate individual differences in brain activity using the recording of brain oscillation (event-related brain potentials, or ERPs) during the performance of different behavioral tasks. A subsample of our twin subjects also undergoes functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning. Other assessments used in the lab include psychiatric diagnostic interviews, personality questionnaires, neuropsychological tests, and collection of DNA samples. For example, an ongoing longitudinal study of adolescent twins explores developmental trajectories and genetic determinants of brain activity related to inhibitory control of behavior and processing of emotional information in order to identify prospective predictors of substance abuse and associated behavioral problems. Another twin study investigates the consequences of heavy drinking during adolescence by comparing neurocognitive functioning in twins who are discordant for heavy drinking. Interested students will be able to learn a variety of methods used in these studies, such as the recording and analysis of brain oscillations, event-related neural dynamics, startle response, and autonomic measures, administration of neuropsychological and behavioral tests, and statistical analysis of data. Format of this research elective may include: (1) directed reading; (2) participation in laboratory experiments involving human subjects; (3) analysis of existing data from various research projects; (4) designing and piloting new behavioral tests and ERP experiments. Qualifications: Reliability and responsibility, ability to commit specified amount of time per week and work on schedule which can be negotiated on an individual basis, and good computer skills.

Deanna M Barch, PhD – Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience of Schizophrenia and Depression
6612 Renard Hospital
Students may participate in the conduct of clinical studies of schizophrenia and depression.  Involvement in clinical studies can include training and experience in interviewing psychiatric patients, or gaining experience in the techniques of assessing cognitive and emotional function using behavioral and brain imaging methods.

Laura Jean Bierut, MD
Maternity Building
This research elective will focus on analyzing data from high-risk studies of smoking and other addictions. Students will have the opportunity to examine genetic and environmental factors that place some at risk for developing nicotine, alcohol and other substance dependence and protect others from the development of these disorders.

Kevin J. Black, MD
4525 Scott Ave, Room 2106
Students will participate in ongoing studies of brain imaging, movement disorders or neuropsychiatric illnesses. Degree of participation will relate to the student’s available research time, skills, and interest. See for examples of past research.

Alison Goate, DPhil – Genetic Studies of Alzheimer’s Disease
9th Floor, BJH – 1H Building
Studies can involve laboratory-based projects on the genetics or cell biology of Alzheimer’s disease or clinical studies involving the collection of data through telephone or personal interview of individuals with a family history of dementia.

Ginger E. Nicol, MD
4412 Renard Building
Clinical research concerning metabolism and the regulation of weight and body composition in persons with mental illness, particularly during exposure to psychotropic medications. Additional projects include 1) participation in the conduct and interpretation of results from gold standard metabolic assessments in mentally ill individuals within the context of a clinical trial 2) participation in clinical studies testing the effectiveness of behavioral and medical interventions for weight loss in youth and adults 3) learning how clinical and administrative data can be used to characterize and examine psychotropic prescribing and metabolic monitoring trends in antipsychotic-treated individuals 4) learning to evaluate the cost effectiveness of various clinical approaches to the management of weight problems and metabolic risk conditions in mentally ill individuals using decision analytic techniques, and 5) participation in the development, implementation and effectiveness testing of patient safety and quality improvement (PSQI) interventions in mentally ill obese patients in Wash U outpatient psychiatry clinic settings. This elective offers the student a broad exposure to clinical research protocols, including protocols in adults and children. Students will have an opportunity to focus on a particular project of interest.

Psychiatric and Behavioral Health Sciences Concentration

Rumi Kato Price, PhD, MPE (Concentration program director); Arpana Agrawal, PhD; Kathleen B. Bucholz, PhD, MPE; Li-Shiun Chen, MD; Anne Glowinski, MD, MPE; Rick Grucza, PhD, MPE
660 S. S.Taylor TAB Bldg.
Courses are held at the Institute for Public Health TAB Bldg. The Psychiatric and Behavioral Health Sciences Concentration, an integral component of the Master of Population Health Sciences (MPHS) accredited in WUSM and taught by Psychiatry faculty members, provides clinician-researchers, postdoctoral fellows, and advanced medical and other graduate students with strong conceptual and methodological skills required for the design, advanced analysis and interpretation of epidemiological and treatment-effectiveness studies. With an emphasis on a clinical approach to psychiatric and addiction health research, didactic training focuses on in-depth understanding of disease phenotypes, pathobiology and developmental trajectories; understanding the underlying biological and environmental factors and their interactions; understanding the role of psychiatric epidemiology in disease prevention and intervention; and evaluating psychiatric clinical treatment and management programs of psychopathology. A fellow/student has an option of applying for a MPHS degree program or taking appropriate courses as part of his/her training or academic program. A total of 18 credits are needed for this Concentration for a matriculated student. Currently available courses include: (1) Epidemiology of Psychiatric Disorders across the Lifespan (M19-561; Course master, A. Glowinski, MD; 3 credits): This course takes an integrated developmental approach to the epidemiology, etiology and evolving nosology of psychiatric disorders. (2) Addictions and Addictive Behaviors (M19-562; Course maser, R. Grucza; 3 credits): This course provides an overview of the principles of substance-related addictions and the processes and mechanisms that underlie addiction. Fellows/students are introduced to the epidemiology and developmental course of addiction, risk and protective influences that act on the course of addiction and its adverse health consequences. (3) Global Burden of Diseases: (M19-5656/S55-4003; Course master, RK Price; 3 credits): This course provides an overview of the current methods and research applications for studying global burden of medical and psychiatric diseases from a multidisciplinary perspective. In addition to understanding and applying the current and advanced methodology used in studying global burden of diseases, fellow and students will learn the updated knowledge of communicable and non-communicable chronic diseases including psychiatric and addiction diseases.

Rumi Kato Price, PhD, MPE
4560 Clayton Rd., CID Bldg.
Medical and graduate students, postdoctoral and clinical fellows will work closely with Dr. Price and her collaborators on ongoing research projects in psychiatric epidemiology, substance abuse, and prevention in the community research context. The current projects include: implementation of a sensor- and smartphone-based technology to monitor and manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorder symptoms; and epidemiology and clinical studies of human trafficking in the St. Louis region and more globally. We work closely with the Institute for Public Health and collaborate on a wide range of topics related to human trafficking with multidisciplinary faculty (computer sciences, biomedical engineering, social work, nursing, women’s studies, and international studies) as well as with community leaders. New technologies are introduced as they fit to specific aims. Secondary analysis studies can be arranged using archived data files. Private-domain data files include: a longitudinal study assessing the impact of war experience and trauma spectrum disorders and health services utilization on National Guard service members and their families deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan; and 30-year longitudinal study series assessing the impact of drug abuse and war trauma, PTSD and suicidality. Several public domain large general population data files are also accessible.

NOTE TO STUDENTS: There are always a number of research projects in the Department of Psychiatry. For additional information contact Dr. Rubin, 314-362-2462.