The Tulane University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is a leader in clinical research that covers the developmental lifespan with investigators from multiple disciplines and a history of groundbreaking clinical research. We offer a wide range of sites, mentors, and unique training opportunities for young researchers. Training and support are provided at all levels of training including students, residents, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty. We are committed to research that understands the underpinnings of complex mental issues and develops new treatments.
Michael Scheeringa, MD
Vice Chair of Research
Penetrance Rate of COVID-19 Infection in a State Psychiatric Hospital
(5/21/20). Tulane faculty published the first study on penetrance rates of COVID-19 infection in a psychiatric inpatient setting. Led by John Thompson, MD, they tested nearly all inpatients and staff. Following identification of the first symptomatic patient, 78% of individuals in the same unit tested positive despite following initial CDC guidelines. The authors concluded that universal masking prior to identification of the first symptomatic individual in this setting might prevent many cases of infection.
Full text is available at Psychiatric Services journal website.
Louisiana Outpatient Competency Restoration Program
(3/27/20) Dr. Gina Manguno-Mire presented her research at the American Psychiatry-Law Society conference in New Orleans on March 6. Criminal defendants deemed incompetent to stand trial can often be restored to competency through appropriate psychiatric treatment. Justice systems have traditionally treated such individuals in expensive and restrictive inpatient settings. Dr. Mire presented promising outcome data from 10 years of longitudinal data on a novel outpatient competency restoration program that she and other Tulane colleagues have helped run in the state of Louisiana.
Validation of the Diagnostic Infant Preschool Assessment (DIPA) in Danish
(2/6/20). Dr. Michael Scheeringa’s DIPA interview was translated and validated in a Danish sample of young children in a recent publication (Løkkegaard et al., 2019, Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology. DOI: 10.21307/sjcapp-2019-007). The DIPA has now been translated into seven languages and has become the most widely used psychiatric diagnostic interview about very young children in the world.
NIH Funding for Telomere Research Network
(12/4/19) NIH awarded a $2.9 million grant to Dr. Stacy Drury to lead a research network that will set methodological standards for studying telomeres. Drury will launch the Telomere Research Network to establish best practices for measuring telomere length in studies. Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes that are thought to play an important role in age-related diseases.
Institutional Rearing, Foster Care, and Brain Electrical Activity in Adolescence
(9/25/19) Charles Zeanah, MD was a senior author on the follow-up of brain electrical activity in the long-running Bucharest Early Intervention Project. When re-assessed at 16 years of age, those who had been placed in foster care showed normalized alpha and theta power compared to youths who remained in care as usual. This suggests that more nurturing atmospheres of high-quality foster care were associated with more optimal brain functioning. They also showed that more disruptions in care were associated with less optimal brain functioning profiles. (Published in Developmental Science, doi: 10.1111/desc.12872).
Phantom Network of Medicaid Networks Documented by Tulane Researchers
(7/10/19) Michael S. Scheeringa, MD and colleagues determined the true level of access that youths in child welfare have to mental health providers in Louisiana. Mystery shoppers called every provider advertised in Medicaid managed care organization networks. Only 25.4% of the advertised network was able to schedule a new appointment. Nearly 75% of providers that were publicly listed were a “phantom network” of duplicate listings, providers no longer in network, or providers not taking new patients. (Published in Journal of Public Child Welfare, doi: 10.1080/15548732.2018.1537904)
Computer-Based Training to Modify Negative Cognitive Biases and Irritability
(5/30/19) Rebecca Lynch, PhD, Research Postdoctoral Fellow, launched her new pilot study at the Tulane University Behavioral Health Clinic – Metairie to address the common clinical problem of irritability. Dr. Lynch created a computer-based training task to shift interpretations of facial affect to be more positive. Using this task, she will examine whether irritability is associated with a biased tendency to interpret ambiguous social information as hostile, and whether this training task can shift both patients’ biases and their levels of irritability.
Default Mode Network Associations with Risk Taking and Impulsivity
(5/2/19) Jeffrey Rouse, MD, presented his poster Default Mode Network Functional Connectivity Correlates of Individual Differences in Risk Taking and Impulsivity at the Cognitive Neurosciences Society on March 25, 2019 in San Francisco. Secondary analyses of fMRI data from the Nathan-Kline Institute showed novel associations of DMN connectivity to multiple regions of the brain. He was also a secondary author on three other posters.
K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Award for Dr. Mikolajewski
(4/5/19) Amy Mikolajewski, PhD received notice several weeks ago that she has been awarded a K23 award, which is a five-year mentored award to develop young investigators. Her project, Psychophysiology and Social Processes in Very Young Children With Externalizing Problems, is a $540,000 study being funded by the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. Her study will break new ground for understanding the subtypes and different trajectories of very young children with disruptive behaviors.
National Award for Best Research Paper
(2/27/19) Stacy Drury, MD (pictured) received the 2018 AACAP Norbert and Charlotte Rieger Award for Scientific Achievement recognizing the most significant article by a child and adolescent psychiatrist in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in the past year (Gray, Jones, Theall, Glackin, & Drury. Thinking Across Generations: Unique Contributions of Maternal Early Life and Prenatal Stress to Infant Physiology, 56). This marks the third time Tulane has won this award following Michael Scheeringa (2003) and Mary Margaret Gleason (2011).
Research on Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children
(12/19/18) Oppositional defiant disorder is one of the most common reasons parents seek psychiatric care for young children, but it is known that there can be widely different outcomes as these children grow older. Amy Mikolajewski, PhD (pictured) is breaking new ground in a pilot study to better understand this heterotypic continuity. Studying clinic-referred 4- to 12-year old children, she is examining three different dimensions of ODD - irritability, defiance, and vindictiveness – along dimensions of autonomic arousal, attentional bias for emotion recognition, and symptom profiles.
Recommendations for Telomere Research
(11/29/18) Stacy Drury, MD (pictured) and Kyle Esteves co-authored an important overview of methods for research with telomeres. Noting the growing interest in telomere biology across biomedical, epidemiological and public health research, it is critical to ensure that the measurement of telomere length is performed with high precision and accuracy. They provided guidance and called for improved methodological rigor. The article, “Telomere length measurement by qPCR – Summary of critical factors and recommendations for assay design,” was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology 99:217-278.