The Department of Psychiatry at Beth Israel Medical Center is dedicated
to clinical research because we recognize it’s importance for the
development of new and more effective treatments for psychiatric and behavioral
disorders. Our innovative research encompasses a wide range of psychiatric
disorders—from persistent and serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia
to more widespread behavioral disorders such as social phobia, anxiety,
and psychological trauma. Equally diverse is our research into different
treatment modalities, including trials of novel psychopharmacological
treatments and innovative non-pharmacological psychotherapeutic modalities
such as brief psychotherapy.
All research in the department is approved by the Institutional Review
Board. Funding sources include federal granting agencies (National Institute
of Mental Health, National Institute for Drug Abuse), pharmaceutical companies,
and private granting agencies. The Department has six dedicated Research
Divisions: The Division of Biological Psychiatry, the Clinical Research
Center (CRC), the Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders Center, Zirinsky Mood
Disorders Center, Anxiety and Trauma Center and the Brief Psychotherapy
Research Program, all of which are described below.
Division of Biological Psychiatry
The Division of Biological Psychiatry, located within the Department of
Psychiatry at the Beth Israel Medical Center, is dedicated to high quality
research into the critical questions of contemporary psychiatry. One of
it’s major areas is broadly defined addictive behaviors—including
traditionally defined chemical addictions (i.e. opiate dependence) and
behavioral addictions such as excessive and deviant sexual behaviors.
Other areas of research have included schizophrenia, mood and anxiety
disorders, impact of education on cognitive functioning, negative symptoms
and apathy, and research integrity.
The chemical addiction research focuses primarily on opiate abuse, while
addictive behavior studies focus on pedophilia. Past opiate addiction
research included a NIDA-funded PET investigation of negative mood and
attention in methadone-maintained and abstinent opiate addicted individuals.
Associated studies included extensive descriptive studies on neuropsychological,
personality, and neurosensory abnormities in opiate abuse. Current research
studies focus on mood disorders in opiate abusers in protracted abstinence.
These include fMRI studies, in collaboration with the Columbia University
fMRI Imaging Center, of negative mood induction, as well as treatment
studies of opiate abuse associated dysphoria.
Past pedophilia studies have investigated the personality, neuropsychology,
childhood abuse history, phallometric response, and brain function (as
measured by FDG PET) of male pedophilia. At present we are continuing
our investigation of personality and cognitive profiles of pedophiles
with the goal of eventually identifying those with the highest risk of
recidivism. As part of this study we are also investigating recently compiled
public databases of sex offenders.
Other current research projects include investigation of the relationship
between pharmaceutical company funding and outcomes in clinical research
and the analysis of the effects of education on the fuctional neuroanatomy
of attentional processes. In addition the division is conducting a joint
research program with the Brief Psychotherapy Program to study attachment
behavior. The division is using fMRI to study brain function in attachment
and investigating central nervous system changes during the process of
Division personnel include Igor Galynker, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Lisa
Cohen, Ph.D., Associate Director, James Prosser, MD, Instructor, and 15
additional staff members, five of whom are full-time. In its eight-year
history, the Division has obtained more than 20 grants, totaling about
2 million dollars, from outside funding agencies, including NIH, pharmaceutical
companies, and private granting agencies. In addition, the Division has
produced approximately 30 published papers and 100 presentations.
From its inception, the Division of Biological Psychiatry has been centrally
involved in training. Trainees from Beth Israel’s psychiatric residency,
university psychology departments, and medical schools, as well as foreign-trained
doctors applying for American residency programs, have all participated
in research. Many have had the opportunity to progress to the next level
of their career, whether it involves obtaining a prestigious research
fellowship or entering a psychiatric residency or a psychology doctoral
For more information on the Division of Biological Psychiatry,
please call (212) 844-1598.
Clinical Research Center
The Clinical Research Center (CRC), in collaboration with clinical divisions,
conducts pharmaceutical trials w ithin the Department. Both multi-center
and investigator-initiated drug trials have been sponsored by numerous
pharmaceutical companies. The investigational drugs studied targeted symptoms
of schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and panic, dysthymia, dementias,
and other disorders.
The center is staffed with clinical research coordinators and raters,
who are trained in the administration of psychometric scales and data
management, and are inter-rater reliable. A single centralized database
is maintained for all studies.
The CRC is integrated with the teaching programs in the Department. Trainees
from the Beth Israel psychiatry residency training program, foreign trained
doctors applying for American residency programs, and graduate and undergraduate
students have all participated in research. Most have used their training
experience to progress to the next level in their clinical and research
For more information on the Clinical Research Center, please call
Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders Center
This Center in collaboration with the Clinical Research Center assesses
the use of novel treatments (medications, psychotherapies, rehabilitation)
for the schizophrenia spectrum disorders. We are investigating factor
influencing adherence to treatment and designing new methods to improve
treatment adherence. Other research projects address capacity to consent
to research and to understand the informed consent process.
Zirinsky Mood Disorders Center
The Zirinsky Center specializes in research of bipolar illness and major
depressive disorder, and in the treatment of individuals with these conditions.
The center also conducts state-of-the-art, clinical trials in collaboration
with the Clinical Research Center. Recent research projects include studies
of treatment adherence and health behaviors, and development of new methods
to improve both of these issues. Other projects address the relationship
between anxiety, panic, and suicidality. Plans are underway to develop
a family centered research and treatment program for bipolar patients
and their families.
Center for Anxiety and Trauma Disorders
The Center for Anxiety and Trauma Disorders engages in treatment and research
into new medications in collaboration with the Clinical Research Center
for patients with anxiety and trauma disorders. The main focus of the
Center is on the relationship between panic, dissociation, PTSD, and suicidal
and dangerous behaviors. The Center also conducts a number of treatment
groups for trauma and anxiety disorder patients.
Brief Psychotherapy Research Program
The Brief Psychotherapy Research Program conducts innovative studies of
factors that influence the effectiveness of psychotherapy for treatment
of depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Designed to shorten
the therapy process, brief psychotherapy focuses on very specific problem
areas and involves high levels of therapist activity. A major focus of
our brief psychotherapy research is the patient/therapist relationship.
These studies investigate the process of forming a therapeutic alliance,
maintaining it, and repairing ruptures in the alliance.
The Brief Psychotherapy Research program offers specialized treatment
for adults who suffer from the following: depression, anxiety, low self-esteem,
and/or interpersonal problems. If thorough evaluation indicates that short-term
treatment is appropriate, a therapist is assigned to the patient. Treatment
consists of 30 psychotherapy sessions and involves a number of different
psychotherapy models. An NIMH funded study is investigating the training
of therapists in an integrated brief psychotherapy, consisting of cognitive-behavioral
and interpersonal/relational approaches.
In addition, the Brief Psychotherapy Research Program is engaged in collaborative
research with the Division of Biological Psychiatry studying the process
of attachment (see section on Research in the Division of Biological Psychiatry).
For more information on the Brief Psychotherapy Research Program,
please call (212) 420-3819.
Other Research Programs
Research in Addiction Psychiatry:
The Addiction Psychiatry Division conducts research in 3 areas -- in
collaboration with the large, multimodal substance abuse treatment facilities
of the Chemical Dependency programs of BIMC.
First, we conduct descriptive studies to characterize the prevalence
and nature of dual diagnoses and secondary substance use in patients with
identified primary substance use disorders.
Second, we conduct treatment studies to develop new approaches to improve
retention and outcome among patients entering Chemical Dependency programs,
who are readily prone to early drop-out. These approaches include psychopharmacologic
and behavioral treatments.
Third, we conduct services research studies to identify patterns, as
well as barriers to and promoters of, adherence to treatment.
Research in the Division of Consultation-Liaison
Psychiatry (Psychosomatic Medicine)
Clinical research in this field of psychiatry looks at the different
psychological and psychiatric manifestations of and reactions to medical-surgical
illness. Past research efforts have looked at "Psychiatric Diagnosis
Among Women with HIV/AIDS", "Psychological Outcomes of Ambulatory
Mastectomy", "Drug-drug Interactions Between Protease Inhibitors
and Psychotropic Medications", and "Personality Styles Among
People Attending a Diabetes Clinic" to name a few. The Division's
interests remain strongly influenced by issues connected to HIV/AIDS,
Oncology, and Delirium. New research projects are currently being developed
in these areas. Examples include studying the psychological implications
of lipodystrophy among women with AIDS, and identifying potential risk
factors or vulnerabilities for the development of delirium.
GERIATRIC PSYCHIATRY RESEARCH PROGRAM
|1. Geriatric Depression
|| The division is currently involved in a study treating
depression in elderly women with a combination of antidepressant medication
and vitamin supplementation.
|2. Parkinson’s disease
||Current research work in Parkinson’s disease (PD) looks at
the effects of surgical treatment of PD on mood and the effect of
PD on olfaction.
||Research interests in dementia include treatment of cognitive impairment
in vascular dementia and the treatment of agitation in nursing home
patients with dementia.
|4. Training in Geriatric Psychiatry
||Research focuses on the usefulness of home-visits to mentally ill
seniors as a tool for teaching systems-based practice to medical students
|5. Sexual Function in the Elderly
||The division is studying the effects of neurological and psychiatric
illness on sexual health in the elderly. A further goal is to determine
the sexual functioning of sample elderly in the community.