The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program in the Division of Psychology within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine organizes their research labs into the following Research Emphases:
Center for Prevention Implementation Methodology (Recruiting!)
This Center is directed by Dr. Hendrics Brown. We seek to learn what the goal, opportunities, and capacities are of communities, institutions and agencies around prevention programs designed to reduce drug abuse, HIV infection, and sexual risk behavior. This information is critical to our Center’s planning to address the needs in the practice of, as well as research on prevention implementation over the next five years and beyond. To facilitate successful program implementation and evaluation at the federal, state, county, and local levels, the Center is developing new methods for improving implementation in communities as well as new methods for conducting implementation research, quality improvement, and evaluation in practice settings. Our methodologic tools include many of the new “system science” approaches that address the complex, interacting and multilevel factors that affect program implementation, program quality, and ultimate impact on communities. These system science methods include social network analysis, agent based modeling, and intelligent data analysis. Our team collaborates and consults on implementation projects that are funded or being planned, as well as providing training to diverse groups engaged in implementation. We also provide opportunities for early career investigators to receive mentoring in this new field of implementation science, and the Center provides funding for pilot projects on a competitive basis. We also provide opportunities for postdoctoral fellowships and collaborations with leading prevention implementation researchers across the country.
Nicotine Dependence (Recruiting!)
This research lab incorporates treatment, human laboratory, and genetic epidemiologic methods to identify psychological and biological factors associated with the development and persistence of nicotine dependence. The primary goal is to inform the development of innovative psychological and pharmacological smoking cessation therapies. Current research focuses on the neurobehavioral regulation of cigarette cravings and smoking behavior in smokers with and without chronic depression, and an effectiveness trial of maintenance therapy for nicotine dependence.
Griffith Lab (Recruiting!)
Dr. James Griffith focuses on the development of measurement tools, including computerized questionnaires and mobile apps, for urology patients with an view toward making better treatment decisions. Dr. Griffith is also interested in mental health, including measurement issues in rumination and autobiographical memory. Current projects include the following: Multidisciplinary Assessment of Pelvic Pain (http://www.mappnetwork.org/), Symptoms of Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction Research Network (https://nih-lurn.org/), and collaborations with the Apkarian Pain Lab and T. Schnitzer's Lab examining clinical trials in spinal cord injury patients.
Primary Mentor: James Griffith, PhD
Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (NOT Recruiting)
The ISGMH program's mission is to conduct translational research that improves the health of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and to increase understanding of the development of sexual orientation and gender identity. We seek to achieve this mission by developing innovative, evidence-based interventions; collaborating with the LGBT community; training the next generation of LGBT scholars; and disseminating research findings to scientific and general audiences.
Psychosocial Oncology, Biopsychosocial Mechanisms and Health Outcomes (NOT Recruiting)
Dr. Penedo is the Leader of Cancer Control and Survivorship Research Program and Director of the Cancer Survivorship Institute of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. He also directs the Biopsychosocial Mechanisms and Health Outcomes (BMHO) Program within the Department of Medical Social Sciences, which addresses the underlying psychosocial, sociocultural and biobehavioral mechanisms of chronic diseases processes and health outcomes. The BMHO Program advances knowledge in four broad themes of inquiry: Behavioral and Psychosocial Processes in Health Outcomes, Sociocultural Determinants of Health, Biobehavioral Mechanisms & Chronic Disease Management Interventions. Projects include observational studies in cancer survivorship; community-based patient navigation in Hispanic breast, colorectal and prostate cancer survivors; population-based Hispanic cohort studies with comprehensive assessment of biopsychoscial and cultural mechanisms in the context of primary and secondary prevention of CVD, and cancer prevention; technology based intervention studies in cancer survivorship. Our work emphasizes several methods including ecosocial and biobehavioral approaches; CBT and stress management interventions; technology implementation; translational and team science; and advanced statistical methods.
Primary Mentor: Frank Penedo, PhD
Exercise and Health Lab (NOT Recruiting)
Research in the Exercise and Health Lab is focused on understanding the determinants and health outcomes of physical activity participation and the translation of this research into practice using technology and innovative research methods. We are particularly interested in the role of physical activity in cancer prevention, control and survivorship. However, we are interested in exploring ways to get everyone to be more active. Current research focuses on developing and implementing a mobile phone-delivered physical activity promotion intervention for breast cancer survivors using the Multiphase Optimization Strategy Trial methodology and an observational study examining changes in patient reported outcomes and physical activity in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy using ecological momentary assessment methodology.
Health Promotion & Evidence-Based Practice (NOT Recruiting)
This lab focuses on health promotion, risk behaviors (e.g., cigarette smoking, poor quality diet, inactivity, obesity, stress, depression), behavioral interventions, evidence-based practices, and E-technology. The overarching goal of the research is to develop health promotion interventions that retain the efficacy of individual intensive behavioral treatments while attaining the reach, reduced cost, and impact of population-based interventions. A current research emphasis concerns identifying optimal ways to modify several unhealthy behaviors at a time (for example, high saturated fat, low fruits and vegetables, low physical activity, high “screen time”). Another emphasis involves using electronic technology to extend the reach of behavioral interventions. Other research interests concern health disparities, food “addiction,” and comorbid depression.
Primary Mentor: Bonnie Spring, PhD
Health Literacy & Learning Program (HeLP) (NOT Recruiting)
The Health Literacy and Learning Program (HeLP) both 1) explores the cognitive, psychosocial, and health system factors that affect an individual’s ability to successfully manage one’s health, and 2) develops interventions to help patients and families obtain, process, and understand health information to make appropriate health decisions and adopt recommended behaviors. Active HeLP research projects includes epidemiological investigations of patients’ ability to perform common health tasks (i.e. prescription and over-the-counter drug use, blood pressure monitoring, healthcare navigation, provider-patient communication), and clinical trials testing innovative strategies to promote health behaviors (i.e. medication adherence, diabetes and hypertension self-management). HeLP sits at the intersect of health communication and behavior, patient safety, health equity, and meaningful use of health technologies (i.e. electronic health records, mobile technologies, internet, multimedia).
Laboratory of Translational Neurobiology (Recruiting!)
Research in the traslational neurobiology laboratory focuses on the study of the interactions between genetic, epigenetic and environmental influences on neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration, and their mechanisms relevant to the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease. Our research strategies are multidisciplinary and collaborative, combining multiple approaches from molecular biology to animal model behavior. The ultimate goal of our research is to establish animal models for better understanding of the mechanisms of the neuropsychiatric disorders and to develop therapeutic strategies for the slowing of disease progression and the prevention of disease onset. Current projects include aging and antipsychotic efficacy, transgenerational epigenetic effects on dopamine receptor development, regulatation of the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease via CRF, and the effects of stress and THC on schizophrenia progression.
Clinical Neuropsychology (NOT Recruiting)
The Clinical Neuropsychology lab is directed by Dr. Sandra Weintraub. Dr. Weintraub’s lab is within the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC) and focuses on studies of cognition in “normal” aging, “SuperAging” (better than normal cognitive functioning in the elderly), and age-associated dementias, such as those caused by Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Current studies address behavioral, genetic and neuroimaging markers of these conditions, risk factors for healthy and diseased cognitive aging (including the relationship between sleep and memory loss), and the relationship between cognitive deficits and neuropathology at post mortem brain autopsy. One of the key areas in which students are conducting research is the clinical syndrome of primary progressive aphasia. This disorder is characterized by the insidious onset and progressive loss over time of language function (aphasia) due to neurodegenerative disease that targets the left cerebral hemisphere neuroanatomical network underlying normal language function. Findings from this lab have been published in top neurology and neuropsychology journals, and have spanned neuropathology, neurolinguistics, structural and functional neuroimaging, genetic risk factors and the impact of disease on patients and their caregivers. Cross-lab collaborations in Chicago and Evanston permit students to broaden the translational value of research.
Cognitive Neuroimaging in Aging and Dementia (NOT Recruiting)
This lab is directed by Dr. Rogalski. Dr. Rogalski’s lab within the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC) focuses on structural neuroimaging related to cognitive systems in healthy aging and disease. Her studies investigate the relationship between cognitive mechanisms of language and memory and structural brain changes that accompany aging and dementia. Training in her lab provides students with skills for image analysis and synthesis of brain structure and function.
Forensic Neuropsychology (NOT Recruiting)
This lab is directed by Drs. Robert Hanlon and Michael Brook, and is focused on forensic neuropsychology and neurocriminology - areas of research which involve the application of neuropsychological theory and methods to the understanding of the root causes of violent aggression and criminal behavior. Specific projects in the lab address: 1) examining neuropsychological functioning in homicide offenders, 2) exploring relationships between neurocognition, emotion processing, psychopathy, and violent behavior; and 3) development of comprehensive violence risk assessment instruments. Students in our lab choose Clinical Neuropsychology as their clinical emphasis and have a strong interest in applying their clinical and research skills in the forensic arena.
Laboratory of Cognitive Control and Clinical Neuroscience (NOT Recruiting)
This lab focuses on understanding how cognitive control processes — those processes that help guide thought and behavior based on internally generated goals — are altered in individuals with or at risk for various forms of psychopathology. We use translational laboratory and fMRI approaches adopted from the cognitive neurosciences to study the functional neural networks involved in the control of attention, working memory, and behavioral responding and how these are altered in individuals with psychopathology (primarily schizophrenia and affective psychoses) and those at genetic or clinical risk for such disorders, as well as the impact of pharmacological treatments on these networks. Students in our lab have the opportunity to learn diagnostic and clinical assessment procedures of severe psychopathology, standard neuropsychological methods for evaluating cognitive functioning, and laboratory and fMRI based acquisition and analysis of neurophysiologic data.
Primary Mentor: James Reilly, PhD
Neuroimaging & Applied Computational Anatomy (NIACAL) (Recruiting!)
Our lab’s research is focused on the development of multidimensional and multimodal neuroimaging biomarkers using the tools of computational anatomy. Working with collaborators from engineering, mathematics, psychology and clinical specialties, we focus on the following major areas: 1. Mapping of Brain Structures using MRI: We develop automated pipelines to delineate brain structures based on simultaneous mappings of multiple structures from multiple atlases. This includes deep brain structures (such as the hippocampus, amygdala, thalamus, and basal ganglia) and cortical structures. 2. Complex Neuroimaging Biomarkers: We develop modeling and statistical approaches for the analysis of these maps. We develop frameworks for joint, integrated analyses of multidimensional, multimodal information based on the structural mapping of the brain. 3. Clinical Applications: We are interested in developing neuroimaging markers to characterize neuropsychiatric disorders, disease progression and prediction, and monitoring of treatment. 4. Neuroinformatics: Data sharing and data mediation. 5. Preclinical Applications: Neuroimaging of Animal Models.
Primary Mentor: Lei Wang, PhD
Neuroimaging and Applied Computational Anatomy Lab
Health Disparities and Public Policy (Recruiting!)
The Health Disparities and Public Policy Program provides opportunities to study the health needs and outcomes of underserved populations. We have studied men in jail, women in jail, and youth in juvenile detention. We have focused on the development and persistence of psychiatric disorders; disparities in risk and protective factors associated with psychiatric disorders; service utilization; victimization and perpetration of firearm violence; and HIV/AIDS risk behaviors. The program’s current study is the Northwestern Juvenile Project, a large-scale federally-funded longitudinal investigation of mental health needs and outcomes of 1829 delinquent youth, enrolled between 1995 and 1998. We are now planning to study the children of our original participants in a study to be called, The Next Generation. Overall, our mission is to provide empirical data on populations that are seldom investigated, help improve services for traditionally underserved populations and guide the development of innovative public policy. Our studies have been cited in Supreme Court amicus briefs, in congressional hearings, in recent reports of the Surgeon General, and by many federal agencies, private agencies, and advocacy groups.
Mental Health Services & Policy Program (MHSPP) (NOT Recruiting)
Faculty and students investigate how to assess and address mental health, trauma, and child welfare needs in the community. Our unique relationships with multiple state and federal agencies and court systems allow students to examine program and policy efficacy using data from the child welfare, mental health, and juvenile justice sectors. Through research, coursework, and practicum opportunities, MHSPP prepares students to contribute as researchers to policy and administrative decisions within the public sector. For the coming year, MHSPP is interested in applicants to the Clinical Psychology PhD program whose interests align with the areas identified above, or individuals interested in Northwestern’s JD/PhD program who wish to focus on legal and/or policy issues associated with children who receive services in the public sector.
M-Body Lab (NOT Recruiting)
The M-Body lab focuses on developing, testing and implementing evidence based mental health interventions that are accessible and acceptable among high-risk disadvantaged populations. Depressive disorders are common, particularly among disadvantaged individuals such as women who are unemployed, with less education and income. This high-risk, disadvantaged population is also more likely to hold stigmatizing beliefs and negative attitudes toward traditional mental health treatment and less likely to receive treatment. The aims of the M-Body Lab are to 1) Understand stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs related to psychiatric disorders and treatment 2) Use this knowledge to adapt existing or develop new evidence based interventions that are culturally appropriate and acceptable 3) Examine the efficacy of novel mental health interventions among high-risk disadvantaged populations 4) Create a model of implementation that facilitates easy access to treatment and broad dissemination.
Primary Mentor: Inger Burnett-Zeigler, PhD
Center for Childhood Resilience Lab (Recruiting!!)
The Center for Childhood Resilience is committed to promoting the training of child and adolescent mental health workers from a public health perspective. It is generally acknowledged that the vast majority of children and adolescents in need of mental health services do not receive them through traditional delivery methods such as fee for service individual treatment. In response to this public health crisis, our center is working within the community to identify mental health needs and to disseminate and implement empirically supported treatments that are viable within community settings. The emphasis of this program is on school mental health, community-based trauma training, restorative justice, and public policy and advocacy. Our research is focused on fidelity of treatments as they move out of the research lab into the community as well as on the outcomes of dissemination and implementation, including moderators and mediators that make for more effective treatment outcomes.
Bipolar Disorder Technology Laboratory (NOT Recruiting)
The Bipolar Disorder Technology Laboratory focuses on improving our understanding and treatment of bipolar disorder. Even with current pharmacological treatment, bipolar disorder is a costly, chronic mental illness with high levels of morbidity and mortality. The addition of psychosocial interventions can improve outcomes, but access to these interventions is limited. The laboratory seeks to increase access to psychosocial interventions with demonstrated efficacy for bipolar disorder by utilizing behavioral intervention technologies (BITs), such as mobile apps. In addition, by using BITs to provide real-time assessment and feedback to patients and providers, we aim to increase intervention impact. Furthermore, by using BITs we are able to investigate underlying phenotypes and intervention mechanisms on behavioral targets with the goal of establishing the groundwork for ongoing improvement of bipolar disorder treatment. A randomized clinical trial investigating these questions using a smartphone-based BIT developed in the laboratory is currently underway.
Affective Science and Treatment Lab (NOT Recruiting)
Our research program aims to build neuroscience-informed behavioral interventions that effectively treat depression. Our goals focus on three areas: 1) Identifying the neurophysiologic substrates of emotion in depression, 2) Conducting treatment outcome research to identify neurophysiologic and affective predictors of accelerated therapeutic response; and 3) Adapting and developing behavioral activation interventions that target specific neurophysiologic mechanisms of change in depression. Current projects include a telemedicine behavioral activation treatment for anhedonia among women with mood disorders, testing maternal reward learning in postpartum, and characterizing accelerators of treatment response to Behavioral Activation.
Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Lab (Recruiting!)
This lab is directed by Dr. Molly Losh. Research in the Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Laboratory investigates the language and related abilities that define autism and related neurodevelopmental disabilities, and the neuropsychological, genetic, and environmental features that may be associated with the behavioral and cognitive profiles of these different groups. Specific study goals include: 1) To understand the different developmental strengths and weaknesses in language and related abilities in autism and related neurodevelopmental disabilities; 2) To define subtle language and neuropsychological profiles that may relate to the genes involved in autism and fragile X syndrome, among unaffected relatives; 3) to document the interactions between genes and environment in neurodevelopmental disabilities.
Child and Adolescent Mood Laboratory (NOT Recruiting)
Our lab focuses on understanding the ways in which cognitive, social, environmental, and biological factors interact over the course of development in placing youth at risk for depression and suicide, and on developing evidence-based treatments for childhood depression. Our work then sits, at the interface of the developmental psychopathology and cognitive-behavioral therapy literatures. We are very interested in CBT for depression and in understanding predictors, moderators, and mediators of clinical improvement.
Primary Mentor: Mark Reinecke, PhD, ABPP, ACT
Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (NOTRecruiting)
Dr. Schueller’s research focuses on improving the accessibility and availability of mental health resources through technology. His interests lay most strongly in the treatment and prevention of depression through behavioral intervention technologies such as Internet websites and mobile apps. Current work includes the evaluation of publically-available mental health apps and efforts to provide useful information to consumers of such resources and the use of mobile treatments in various clinical contexts, including homeless populations, to improve the reach and efficacy of mental health treatments.
Northwestern’s Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBITS) is a multidisciplinary center that integrates behavioral science, information and communications technologies, and clinical intervention research to develop and evaluate behavioral intervention technologies to improve health. Core CBITs faculty have particular emphasis on mental health especially depression and anxiety. CBITs work includes the development, implementation, and evaluation of Internet and mobile treatments and the exploration of novel applications of technology, such as smartphone sensors, to further our understanding of psychopathology and its treatment.
Practice-Based Clinical Science Lab (NOT Recruiting)
This lab focuses on data obtained in naturalistic clinial environments. Working in conjunction with a large behavioral health hospital and system, I leverage both existing clinical data and large patient populations to examine novel topics in the areas of nonsuicidal self-injury, depression, and eating disorders. I am also interested in dissemination and use of clinical outcomes in routine practice, as well as implementation and dissemination of evidence-based practices.
Primary Mentor: Jason J. Washburn, PhD, ABPP
Developmental Mechanisms Lab (NOT Recruiting)
The Developmental Mechanisms Program has done leading edge work at the interface of clinical and developmental science. In particular, our lab is internationally recognized for its work on the developmental specification of early onset psychopathology and its prenatal origins. Themes of Developmental Mechanisms research are to:: (1) describe the phenomenology and course of disruptive behavior from infancy across the lifespan including the generation of developmentally-sensitive measures of early emerging psychopathology that differentiate normative misbehavior from the onset of clinical problems; (2) elucidate early life mechanisms of early emergence, persistence, and variations in disruptive behavior patterns over time and their intersection with other psychopathologies and environmental contexts--with central emphasis on how adverse prenatal and early life environments (such as prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke and stress) shape these pathways; and (3) to translate these findings into approaches that enhance early identification and prevention in the earliest phase of the clinical sequence. The program houses multiple NIH-funded grants, with a major emphasis on translational team science including national and international collaborations in developmental epidemiology, neuroscience, developmental measurement science, gene x environment interactions, behavioral teratology and prevention science.
Primary Mentor: Laurie Wakschlag, PhD