Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program

The Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital promotes health and well-being through the integration of mind, brain, body and behavior.

Overview

integrated brain health graphic
INTEGRATED HEALTH & WELLNESS

The mission of the Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program (IBHCRP) at Massachusetts General Hospital is to advance clinical and research practice through development and testing of cutting-edge skills interventions with three main goals:

  • Preserving brain health and preventing chronic illness through lifestyle changes (including adaptive thinking, mindfulness and meditation, healthy eating, exercise, social networks and spirituality)
  • Optimizing management of chronic illness as it relates to brain health
  • Promoting recovery after injury or surgery

The IBHCRP carries out this mission through clinical care and research in direct partnership with patients. In addition, the IBHCRP provides integrated, multidisciplinary training for postdoctoral fellows, predoctoral clinical psychology interns, undergraduate interns and medical residents.

The IBHCRP also partners with primary and specialty care doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists and genetic counselors to facilitate integrated, patient-centered care that suits the needs of each individual patient.

Who We Serve

The IBHCRP provides clinical services to patients and their family caregivers. We also offer many opportunities for care through our ongoing clinical research programs. IBHCRP serves individuals anywhere on the spectrum of health to illness, including:

  • Healthy individuals interested in preserving their health (e.g., primary care patients or caregivers)
  • Individuals recovering from injury or surgery (e.g., general surgery, brain injury, orthopedic trauma, stroke and other cardiovascular events)
  • Individuals facing chronic medical conditions (e.g., chronic pain, deafness, tinnitus, neurofibromatosis and tumor suppressor conditions)

Why Focus on Brain Health?

The brain is the most malleable organ of the body. It is the hub of emotions, behaviors, cognition, socialization and spirituality. The brain influences the development and progression of illness and determines how we cope with stress, injury or illness and defines quality of life and well-being. In turn, illness, coping styles, quality of life and well-being influence the brain.

Brain health encompasses all possible relationships between our minds, bodies, behaviors and environment.

 

Our Services

The Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program (IBHCRP) provides integrated clinical care either in person or virtually to patients who:

  • Are interested in preserving brain health by developing healthy habits associated with longevity and positive vitality, including adaptive thinking, mindfulness, meditation, healthy eating, exercise, social connectedness, meaning-making and spirituality
  • Have been diagnosed with a chronic illness and want to learn skills to manage symptoms for optimal brain health and well-being
  • Would like to improve their recovery following an acute injury or surgery

The IBHCRP also provides services to caregivers for patients facing a chronic illness or recovering from an acute injury or surgery.

Lifestyle and Healthy-Living Skills Group: My Healthy Brain

My Healthy Brain is a 12-week program that teaches specific skills and strategies for optimizing and preserving brain health. During the program, you will learn about the connections between lifestyle behaviors, physical functioning, emotions and brain health, along with skills to help set and achieve healthy living goals that will last a lifetime.

Topics include:

  • Physical activity
  • Nutrition
  • Social relationships
  • Building brain reserve
  • Managing medical conditions
  • Enjoying a healthy life

Dates: Ongoing dates, contact us to learn more

Location: 1 Bowdoin Square, Boston, MA

For more information, please contact Samuel Neveu at 617-726-4881 or sneveu@mgh.harvard.edu.

Collaborations with Other Programs

The IBHCRP collaborates closely with a variety of programs within the Department of Psychiatry and across Mass General to provide timely clinical care.

 

Our Research

The Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program (IBHCRP) at Mass General conducts clinical research consistent with our mission of optimizing health and well-being through brain health. Our research is funded by federal and foundation grants and through the generosity of donors who wish to advance brain health science and clinical care. If you wish to support our work, you can donate online.

Active Studies

We are currently enrolling participants in the clinical trials listed below.


Resiliency Training for Adults with Neurofibromatosis via Live Videoconferencing

Primary investigator: Ana-Maria Vranceanu
Co-investigator: Emily L. Zale, Jessica L. McCurley
Project director: Emily L. Zale
Funding source: Department of Defense

The aim of this study is to compare the effects of two stress management programs tailored for patients with neurofibromatosis on multiple dimensions of quality of life, distress and pain.

For more information please contact Chris Funes, MS (cjfunes@mgh.harvard.edu).


Resiliency Training for Patients with NF2 Who Are Deaf via Live Videoconferencing

Primary investigator: Ana-Maria Vranceanu
Funding source: Childrens’ Tumor Foundation

The aims of this study are to establish the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a videoconferencing-based resiliency program in improving quality of life for adults with NF2 who are deaf.

For more information please contact Chris Funes, MS (cjfunes@mgh.harvard.edu).


Integrating Mind-Body Skills with Physical Activity to Improve Physical and Emotional Outcomes in Patients with Heterogeneous Chronic Pain

Primary investigator: Ana-Maria Vranceanu
Co-investigator & project director: Emily L. Zale
Funding source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

The aim of this study is to adapt a mind-body intervention to increase physical activity among patients with chronic pain. We will then test the feasibility, credibility and acceptability of the mind-body intervention.

For more information please contact Ann Lin (alin23@mgh.harvard.edu).


Preventing Chronic Depression and PTSD in Patients with Stroke Admitted to the Neuroscience ICU and Their Family Caregivers

Primary investigator: Ana-Maria Vranceanu
Co-investigator: Emily L. Zale, Jessica L. McCurley
Project director: Jessica L. McCurley

The aims of this study are to identify modifiable psychosocial risk factors for depression and post-traumatic stress in patients with stroke and their primary caregivers and to develop and test the feasibility and acceptability of a novel mind-body intervention for patient-caregiver pairs.

For more information please contact Ann Lin (alin23@mgh.harvard.edu).


A Randomized Controlled Trial Testing the Feasibility, Acceptability, and Preliminary Effects of a Skills Based Program (Toolkit for Optimal Recovery) Delivered via Live Videoconferencing in Patients with Acute Musculoskeletal Trauma

Primary investigator: Ana-Maria Vranceanu

The aims of this study are to examine the effects of a skills training program delivered via live videoconferencing and optimize recovery after orthopedic fractures.

For more information please contact Ann Lin (alin23@mgh.harvard.edu).


A Prospective Study to Investigate the Relationship Between Patient and Family Caregiver Distress Following Neuroscience ICU Admission

Primary investigator: Ana-Maria Vranceanu

This study aims to identify predictors of depression, post-traumatic stress and quality of life among patients admitted to the Neuroscience ICU and their primary caregivers at three, six, 12 and 24 months post-ICU admission.

For more information please contact Ann Lin (alin23@mgh.harvard.edu).

 

Core Staff

  • Ana-Maria Vranceanu, PhD

    Founder & Director

    Ana-Maria Vranceanu, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Vranceanu is the former director of the behavioral health integration for the Behavioral Medicine Service at Mass General, where she led efforts to integrate behavioral health within primary and specialty medical practices. She is an expert in developing, testing and interacting in person or via live video to provide brief skills interventions for patients and caregivers to promote recovery after injury and optimize management of chronic illness. She founded a mentoring group for junior women and also mentors postdoctoral fellows within the Office for Women’s Careers at Mass General. She has over 100 publications, has edited a book and has served as the principal investigator on over 10 research grants that developed and tested skills interventions delivered in-person or through virtual visits.

    Dr. Vranceanu emigrated from Romania as a university student to pursue a career in psychology. In her free time, she enjoys running and being outdoors, preferably with her husband, son and friends.  

    See Dr. Vranceanu’s publications.

  • Emily L. Zale, PhD

    Clinical Research Fellow

    Emily L. Zale, PhD is project director on two federally-funded clinical trials testing mind-body skills interventions for patients with neurofibromatosis and chronic pain. During her doctoral training at Syracuse University, she was awarded a National Research Service Award by the NIH, and her research has received recognition from the American Psychological Association and the Society for Behavioral Medicine. Dr. Zale is interested in conducting clinical translational research and developing novel psychosocial interventions that can be applied in medical practices. She utilizes a biopsychosocial approach to understanding health and well-being, with an emphasis on incorporating cognitive-behavioral and mind-body skills into treatments for all patients. Dr. Zale’s areas of expertise include tobacco smoking and prescription opioid use among persons with chronic pain; optimizing recovery after injury—including TBI, stroke and orthopedic fracture—and lifestyle changes for optimal health.

    In her spare time, Dr. Zale is an avid CrossFitter and enjoys Olympic weightlifting. She also loves listening to podcasts – everything from news and educational shows, to advice columns and comedy.

    See Dr. Zale’s publications.

  • Jessica L. McCurley, MPH

    Clinical Fellow in Psychology

    Jessica L. McCurley, MPH, is a PhD candidate at the San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. As a doctoral student, she completed an MPH with a concentration in epidemiology at San Diego State University. She is interested in developing interventions to improve psychosocial adjustment to chronic medical and neurological illness and to prevent and manage chronic cardiometabolic conditions. Jessica completed her dissertation in Tijuana, Mexico, has expertise in cultural issues in health, and now works to reduce socioeconomic and ethnic/racial disparities in healthcare. During her graduate training, Jessica received a predoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular epidemiology and received a Fogarty Global Health Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health. She received additional funding from the University of California Global Health Initiative of the Americas and Fogarty International.

    In her spare time, Jessica loves hiking, biking, yoga, being in nature and traveling. Prior to coming to Mass General, Jessica worked in Guatemala, Tennessee, Washington, DC, and California.

    See Jessica’s research

  • Jarry Porsius, PhD

    Visiting Research Psychologist
    Jarry Porsius, PhD, has a PhD in medicine from the Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands. He currently works on a project aimed at optimizing recovery in patients undergoing hip replacement surgery. He has expertise and interest in the nocebo effect, whereby people experience negative responses due to negative expectations of treatment. Jarry plans to spend one year in the US and is accompanied by his wife and young baby.

  • Christopher J. Funes, MS

    Clinical Research Coordinator

    Christopher has a MS in physiology and biophysics with a concentration in in complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University. Christopher is interested in mind-body medicine and behavioral health integration, particularly holistic medicine that integrates these practices into primary and specialty care. He is also interested in reducing health disparities between socioeconomic and ethnic/racial groups and ensuring that all patients, including those in underserved communities both locally and globally, have access to comprehensive interdisciplinary services. Christopher is currently applying to combined MD-PhD programs and his goal is to become a physician scientist to conduct research regarding biopsychosocial mechanisms behind the mind-body relationship, health promotion and disease prevention.

    In his free time, Christopher enjoys nature walks and participating in any activity that involves being in the water. He enjoys baking, going to live music events and being with animals. Christopher loves to travel and hopes to one day visit the Buddhist monks in the Himalayas.

  • Ann Lin, BS

    Clinical Research Coordinator

    Ann graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University with a BS in biopsychology. Ann’s interests in mind-body medicine and integrated brain health include interrelations between neurobiology and behavior and the role of psychosocial factors in critical care medicine. She is interested in working with both patients and caregivers after traumatic injury or critical illness. Ann received an Undergraduate Research Award from the American Heart Association and is currently conducting a study investigating gender differences in resiliency and depression among caregivers of patients admitted to the Neuroscience ICU.

    She hopes to integrate biopsychosocial aspects of recovery into healthcare and medicine and to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in health, especially in women and children. Ann intends to pursue a career in medicine, and is interested in specializing in neurology and/or pediatrics. She loves working with kids and served as a Strong Women Strong Girls college mentor helping to empower young women living in local underserved communities. In her spare time, she enjoys taking road trips, visiting national parks, dancing, kickboxing and attempting to cook.

  • Christina Kourkolis

    Senior Lab Manager
    Christina Kourkolis primarily handles post-award administrations within IBHCRP, including administrative, safety, regulatory and financial duties.

  • Alesandra Giugio

    Grants Administrator
    Alesandra Giugio is a grants administrator at both McLean Hospital and Mass General. At IBHCRP she handles primarily pre-award administration.

Collaborators

  • Gregory Fricchione, MD

    Gregory L. Fricchione, MD, is the Associate Chief of Psychiatry at Mass General and serves as the Gary Gottlieb, MD Partners HealthCare Chair in Global and Community Mental Health. He is also the director emeritus of both the Division of Psychiatry & Medicine and the Psychosomatic Medicine Fellowship at Mass General, the founding director of the Chester M. Pierce Division of Global Psychiatry, and the Director of the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. Dr. Fricchione is also a Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry in mind body medicine. 

    Dr. Fricchione collaborates with IBHCRP on mind body research in brain health.

  • Grant L. Iverson, PhD

    Grant Iverson, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and the director of the MassGeneral Hospital for Children TM Sports Concussion Program. He also serves as the associate director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Program at Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program. Dr. Iverson is a licensed psychologist with a practice in neuropsychology. He is a leading proponent of a biopsychosocial model for conceptualizing both good and poor outcomes from mild traumatic brain injury in athletes, civilians, active duty military service members and veterans. He has published more than 370 articles, reviews and book chapters.

    Dr. Iverson collaborates with IBHCRP on projects aimed at increasing brain health and quality of life in veterans, college students and general TBI patients through adaptations of the Toolkit for Optimal Recovery for the needs of these populations.

  • Michelle Jacobo, PhD

    Michelle Jacobo, PhD, is the chief psychologist of the Inpatient Psychiatric Service and director of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program at Mass General.  She is also the assistant director of training in the Psychology Internship Program and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and co-director of Mass General’s Clinical Psychology Internship. She provides clinical services and supervision throughout the hospital and teaches mindfulness and DBT. Dr. Jacobo serves as a lead clinician on several research projects aimed at improving outcomes in medical patients. She also works in palliative care, helping residents and physicians work on resiliency training.

    She collaborates with IBHCRP in two main ways: she is the clinical supervisor of the Neuro-ICU rotation as part of both the BMED and IBHCRP tracks and is a co-investigator on the Recovering Together program for dyads of patients with stroke and their informal caregivers.

  • William Taylor Kimberly, MD, PhD

    William Taylor Kimberly, MD, PhD, is the associate director of the Neuro-ICU and associate chief of the Division of Neurocritical Care and Emergency Medicine. Dr. Kimberly’s research group studies metabolomic and neuroimaging biomarkers of stroke and cerebral edema. The overarching goal is to identify novel biomarkers and candidate therapeutic targets for secondary brain injury. A key focus is to design and conduct multicenter clinical studies targeting brain edema, applying biomarkers to probe pharmacologic mechanisms and guide the development of novel therapeutic agents in stroke.

    Dr. Kimberly collaborates with IBHCRP on projects focused on using metabolomics methodology to identify a biomarker for risk for PTSD in caregivers of patients admitted to the Neuro-ICU.

  • Karestan C. Koenen, PhD

    Karestan Koenen, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She does research and teaches trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She is particularly interested in how genes shape risk for PTSD. She investigates how trauma and PTSD influence weight gain and alter long-term physical health, including chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. She also documents the global burden of trauma and PTSD through her work with the World Mental Health Surveys. Dr. Koenen’s work uses research findings to advocate for evidence-based prevention of PTSD and response to trauma survivors, particularly victims of sexual violence.

    Dr. Koenen collaborates with IBHCRP on projects focused on prevention of chronic PTSD among patients with critical illness and their caregivers.

  • Ronald Kulich, PhD

    Ron Kulich, PhD is a professor of psychology at Tufts Medical School. He is also a clinical psychologist and has responsibilities including development and management of opioid risk assessment protocols for the Mass General Pain Center and Facial Pain/Headache Center at Tufts School of Dental Medicine. He dedicates his clinical time to the evaluation and treatment of patients with persistent pain conditions, with activities that include screening and psychological evaluation for chronic opioid therapy, screening for interventional procedures and cognitive behavioral interventions. Therapeutic goals include improvement in patient coping skills, maximizing adherence and managing disability associated with chronic pain. Dr. Kulich coordinate a time-limited educational pain group program, focusing on short-term, cost-effective strategies for the management of pain.

    Dr. Kulich collaborates with IBHCRP on project aimed at developing and testing nonpharmacological treatments for patients with chronic pain.

  • Eric A. Macklin, PhD

    Eric Macklin, PhD, works in the Mass General Biostatistics Center and has an academic appointment in the Harvard Medical School Department of Medicine. His work focuses on biostatistical aspects of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disease research and on the development, design and analysis of clinical studies evaluating complementary and alternative medicine. His current work in neurology includes serving on the executive committee for the Parkinson Study Group, as study statistician/steering committee member for clinical trials in Parkinson’s disease and as lead statistician for clinical trials in ALS, autism and Down syndrome.

    Dr. Macklin is a biostatistician collaborator with IBHCRP on several projects focused on improving outcomes for patients with chronic pain, critical illness and neurofibromatosis.  

  • David Ring, MD, PhD

    David Ring, MD, PhD, is associate dean for comprehensive care and professor of surgery at the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Ring was professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School and chief of hand surgery at Mass General. His interests include trauma and post-traumatic reconstruction in the arm, quality and patient safety, common arm illnesses and psychosocial aspects of arm illness. Dr. Ring has increased the appreciation for both nontechnical skills in orthopaedic surgery and the psychological and sociological influences on musculoskeletal illness.

    Dr. Ring collaborates with IBHCRP on projects aimed at improving care for patients with orthopedic illness.

  • Jonathan Rosand, MD, MSc

    Jonathan Rosand, MD, MSc is a co-director and co-founder of the Mass General Institute for Brain Health, professor of neurology at Harvard, the J. P. Kistler chair in neurology and a neurologist at Mass General, where he is chief of the Division of Neurocritical Care and Emergency Neurology. A clinician-scientist with expertise in prevention of cerebrovascular diseases and preservation of brain function following stroke and brain injury, he brings the most advanced techniques of personalized medicine to his practice. In his laboratory within the Mass General Center for Human Genetic Research, Dr. Rosand directs a world-class research program in genetics that continues to discover new genes that influence susceptibility to and recovery from stroke.

    Dr. Rosand collaborates with IBHCRP on projects aimed at improving brain health for patients at risk for brain diseases or those who are recovering from brain disease.

  • Rudy Tanzi, PhD

    Rudy Tanzi, PhD, is the director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit and vice chair of Neurology at Mass General. He is the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. He co-discovered the first Alzheimer’s disease genes and directs the Alzheimer’s Genome Project. Dr. Tanzi has published over 500 papers, received the Metropolitan Life Award, Potamkin Prize, Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award and was on the 2015 Time 100 Most Influential People in the World list. He has co-authored the bestsellers “Super Brain” and “Super Genes” with Dr. Deepak Chopra.

    Dr. Tanzi collaborates with IBHCRP on developing novel methods to improve brain health across the lifespan.

Professional Training

The Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program accepts one intern each year in the Integrated Brain Health elective within the Internship in Clinical Psychology at Mass General.

Internship in Clinical Psychology

Mass General's predoctoral internship in Clinical Psychology is open to matriculated doctoral students enrolled in clinical or counseling psychology programs. The internship helps develop professional psychologists who exemplify the scientist-practitioner model and offers interns seven different tracks of specialization.

Learn more about the internship

Integrated Brain Health Elective

The Integrated Brain Health Elective provides interns with both clinical and research training. This elective is designed to launch careers in psychology with a focus on the integration of mind, brain, body and behavior through comprehensive, multidisciplinary training.

Learn more about the elective

 

 

Contact Us

For clinical services, including new appointments, please call the Mass General Psychiatry Access Line and request an appointment with a provider in the Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program.

Psychiatry Access Line: 617-724-7792

Location:
One Bowdoin Square, 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02114

 

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