UW Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Newsletter, November 2016
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Spotlight on UW Psychiatry Research

On October 25, we held a department-wide Research Faculty Retreat that gave us a chance to reflect on some of the investments we have made in research programs over the past few years and to look ahead. Over 70 research faculty members spent the day reviewing our mission, vision, strengths and opportunities; discussing administrative, financial and operational support for our research programs; and exploring opportunities for new collaborations. It was good to see faculty catching up with each other and exploring new relationships and collaborations. In this month’s newsletter, I will try to highlight a few of our recent efforts to strengthen and diversify our research portfolio.

Diane PowersEarlier this year, we appointed Diane Powers, MA, as Associate Director for Research. Diane has started to work with research faculty and leadership across all of our sites to develop and implement a strategic plan for effective research support, including improved administrative support and budget processes for existing research programs, and to grow our research portfolio through strategic recruitments and investments. Diane is happy to hear from any of you if you have good ideas on how we can further strengthen our research programs.

John FortneyResearch recruitments over the last few years have paid off in a big way starting with John Fortney, PhD, who came to us from the University of Arkansas. Shortly after he started, John landed a $12 million grant from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to test a telepsychiatry extension of the Collaborative Care model for patients with PTSD or bipolar disorder in rural primary care clinics. John also stepped in to lead our new Division of Population Health and obtained substantial funding for a Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) Center at VA Puget Sound that will support important work on the use of virtual care technologies to improve access to care for rural Veterans.

Pat AreanAnother strategic recruitment was Pat Areán, PhD, from UCSF. In addition to leading her own research program on depressed older adults, Pat has partnered with collaborators throughout UW to develop new research initiatives using the latest advances in neuroscience, technology and psychological science to develop targeted and streamlined behavioral interventions that are readily available to a broad array of patients and clinicians. Pat recently received an NIMH grant to further test a mobile video game she developed with a neuroscientist based on preliminary results that showed it could improve depression in older adults. Pat has also become a superb mentor for junior and mid-career faculty and recently led a workshop on mentorship training for some of our senior faculty.

Ian BennettWe also recruited Ian Bennett, MD, PhD, a family physician researcher from the University of Philadelphia to a joint appointment in Family Medicine and Psychiatry. Since his arrival at UW, Ian has received a major NIMH grant to study different approaches for implementing an evidence-based care programs for perinatal depression in 20 primary care clinics around the country. He also leads a state-sponsored technology HUB to help with systematic quality improvement in primary care and with the integration of mental health and primary care. Trained as a family physician, Ian serves as a wonderful link between us and our primary care colleagues.

Zoor Ben-ZeevOur newest research faculty recruitment brings us Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD, from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. Dror was selected from a highly competitive field of applicants for a new faculty position in Mental Health and Technology. He is an internationally recognized and well-funded expert in the use of mobile health technology to improve the lives of individuals living with severe and persistent mental illness and he will work with Dave Atkins and colleagues in the Behavioral Research in Technology and Engineering (BRiTE) Center. Dror will be a fantastic addition to our department and will add strength to our research in technology and in the treatment of patients with severe mental illness. He will start at the University of Washington on February 1.

David AtkinsOver the past few years, we have invested in several new research programs that are taking shape. The BRiTE Center led by David Atkins, PhD, has recruited several exciting faculty and enjoyed a number of early funding successes, ranging from a large industry-sponsored grant in mobile health to a competitive renewal grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to implement a clinical support software tool that uses speech signal processing and computational models to evaluate motivational interviewing (MI) for alcohol and substance use problems.

Debra Kaysen and Kristin LindgrenThe new Trauma Recovery Innovations (TRI) Program led by Debra Kaysen, PhD, and Kristen Lindgren, PhD, is developing treatments for people affected by traumatic events that are easier to use and sustain in real world clinical settings across the globe. Given the public health importance and implications of traumatic events like sexual assault, natural disasters, and combat exposure, TRI has tremendous potential to increase our profile as a leader in this field.

Our outstanding Neurosciences group has established a new Conte Center funded by National Institute on Mental Health. Its primary goal is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying stress vulnerability so that new treatments capable of promoting stress-resilience can be developed to help individuals suffering from these profoundly disabling syndromes. This prestigious new center is led by Charles Chavkin, PhD, in the department of Pharmacology in close collaboration with Psychiatry investigators including John Neumaier, MD, PhD, Paul Phillips, PhD, and Larry Zweifel, PhD.

Aaron LyonOur new School Mental Health Assessment, Research, & Training (SMART) Center directed by Aaron Lyon, PhD, recently received two grants from the Institute of Education Sciences, the primary research funding arm of the US Department of Education. Totaling $4.7M, these awards further establish the SMART Center as an influential leader in school-based behavioral health research and implementation.

Amritha BhatWe are also investing in research on Maternal and Child Mental Health. Led by Amritha Bhat, MD, and colleagues, this program looks at ways to improve access to effective mental health care for moms and young families in Washington and beyond.

John NeumaierOur research training efforts received a major boost from an R25 grant awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The five-year grant led by John Neumaier, MD, PhD, supports the UW Psychiatry Resident Research Program (PRRP) and has doubled the number of residents in our research residency track. The UW PRRP offers a wide range of research opportunities including Neuroscience, Health Services Research, and Addiction Psychiatry.

A new T-32 Alzheimer's Disease Training Program directed by Elaine Peskind, MD, will provide interdisciplinary training for basic science, clinical, and translational researchers so they can advance clinical hypotheses about the etiology, pathophysiology, and treatment of AD and related disorders. The program is the only formal program at the UW focused on training investigators to carry out basic, clinical, and translational research in AD and related neurodegenerative disorders.

These are just a few of the examples of the exciting new research in our department. These programs build on an existing departmental research portfolio that involves more than 100 faculty researchers, more than 150 staff, and over $ 40 million in grant funding in FY 2016, making Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences #5 in research grants among all departments at the University of Washington last year. We are always happy to hear about and write about the great work our researchers are doing. If you have something you'd like to share, please contact Assistant Director of Communications Rebecca Sladek at

Next on the horizon is the recruitment of a new Director of Global Mental Health and an effort to recruit a physician scientist to strengthen our research programs in addictions. With all of this growth in our research programs, we are working hard to find new space, including a new VA Mental Health and Research Building that is scheduled to open on the campus of the Seattle VA in 2018, new Neuroscience Laboratory Space, and a New Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview Medical Center. We're also working on better capturing and talking about the amazing research our faculty are doing at Seattle Children's and the VA.

I want to thank all of our faculty and staff for their incredible contributions to our research programs. Your discoveries and hard work are helping us transform care and inspire the next generation of practitioners who will devote their careers to caring for the millions of individuals living with mental health and substance use problems.

Encouraging Innovation and Novel Collaborations

Our faculty researchers -- over 100 strong -- are spread over a large geographic area (see map of research locations). In conversation, nearly all faculty say they feel disconnected from what is happening at other locations and from colleagues outside their close circle of collaborators. To encourage new connections, we solicited research proposals for innovative ideas and novel collaborations at the Research Retreat.

We received 10 proposals – everything from behavioral health in juvenile justice to pharmacological adjuncts for harm reduction in alcohol dependence. Proposals addressed diverse patient populations, from children to veterans, and diverse clinical conditions, from autism to cognitive decline.

Five senior researchers – Mary Larimer, PhD, John Neumaier, MD, PhD, Elizabeth McCauley, PhD, John Fortney, PhD, and Patricia Areán, PhD – reviewed these proposals (recusing themselves if necessary) and scored each on a 10 point scale across five domains. The top six proposals were presented at the research retreat in a “Shark Tank” style session where faculty had five minutes to present the idea and five minutes for Q&A before retreat participants used a live, interactive scoring system to rank proposals according to Innovation, Public Health Significance and Likelihood of Sponsored Funding. Senior faculty reviewer scores were synthesized with rankings of retreat participants and used to make decisions about how to support the top proposals.

Two proposals received full department funding
Paul Phillips, PhD, Jeremy Clark, PhD, and Susan Collins, PhD, proposed a two-stage pilot study that seeks to extend an established animal model of a pharmacological adjunct for treating cocaine abuse to a harm reduction approach for alcohol. If the animal model proves successful a pilot clinical study will be conducted.

Ruth Kohen, MD, Patricia Areán, PhD, and Brenna Renn, PhD (post-doc) proposed a pilot study measuring the effects of an activity-based video game intervention for depression and cognitive decline in older adults recruited through the HMC Memory and Brain Wellness Clinic.

One proposal received partial funding
Sarah Walker, PhD, and Dennis Donovan, PhD, proposed development and pilot testing of a model to address the behavioral health needs of youth involved in the Washington State juvenile justice system.

Three proposals are receiving non-monetary support from various sources
Jeremy Clark, PhD, and Raphael Bernier, PhD, proposed a pilot study to investigate the neurochemical and behavioral phenotype associated with likely gene disrupting mutations related to social motivation in autism. The Department and School of Medicine advancement team are working on a fundraising strategy for a comprehensive autism research and treatment program across the lifespan.

Elaine Peskind, MD, and colleagues proposed research linking in-depth molecular insights achievable in animal models with human neuroimaging, cerebrospinal fluid biomarker, neuropathologic, cognitive and behavioral date in both military and civilian blunt trauma repetitive mild traumatic brain injury. The Department and School of Medicine advancement team are working on a fundraising strategy for research on traumatic brain injury.

David Atkins, PhD, Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD, and Patrician Areán, PhD proposed development and testing of a mobile phone version of an existing evidence-based tool for cognitive-behavior therapy for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and social phobia. Dave is working with UW CoMotion on commercialization strategies for such innovations being developed through the BRiTE Center.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a proposal this year. We encourage you to continue the dialogue and to think of other new collaborations that may change the way we care for individuals with mental health and substance use disorders in the future.
Quarterly Report
UW Psychiatry Research Awards Q1FY17In the first quarter of FY 2017, our department was awarded 24 grants totaling approximately $6.8 million. This only includes competing grants and supplements processed through OSP for which we have received funding notice and does not include grants or contracts processed through the SoM, SCH or VA Puget Sound. We are working to incorporate all of our external funding in a quarterly report which we will include in the department newsletter. Awarded grants (July 1- September 30, 2016)
ABC Shared Services
Nearly all Psychiatry researchers submitting grants through the UW Office of Sponsored Programs are already signed up with ABC Shared Services for pre-award support. All remaining faculty will be transitioned by the end of the current fiscal year. ABC Shared Services offers a variety of tools to assist faculty, including a recently launched proposal milestone calculator that helps researchers create a timeline to facilitate effective proposal development and submission. Their governance structure includes a Faculty Oversight Committee and they routinely collect, analyze and publish performance data. If you want more information or are planning to submit a grant within the next few months, please visit their website: They can support you best if you communicate early, even if the proposal isn’t a certainty. If you have any questions or need assistance, you can email
New Department Calendar
In an effort to better share information among ourselves, we're piloting a new department calendar housed on the department's public facing website. Designated faculty and staff will be able to add calendar items that are of broad relevance to our department including trainings, lectures, workshops, and special events. A set of criteria is being developed to help inform what events can be included. This is partly an outgrowth of the Research Retreat where many people learned about events of interest within our department for the first time! PLEASE NOTE: The calendar is currently only visible using Internet Explorer. We're troubleshooting and hope to have it fully functional soon.
Useful Information for Researchers

Office of Sponsored Programs

Office of Research

Funding Opportunities

Agreement Types Decision Matrix

MyResearch (allows you to track the status of your grants):

CoMotion portal for researchers

Required training for researchers
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University of Washington
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
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Seattle, WA 98195

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