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Research at Mass General
Dr. Irwin is an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a faculty psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center and MGH Schizophrenia Program where she founded the Cancer Prevention Program. Dr. Irwin graduated from Harvard University in 2001, worked with Doctors for Global Health in El Salvador, and then returned to Harvard Medical School, receiving her MD in 2008, and completing her residency in psychiatry at MGH and McLean in 2012. She received the Dupont-Warren Fellowship from Harvard Medical School in 2013 and the Program in Cancer Outcomes Research Training (PCORT) fellowship in 2015. She is developing a research and clinical program focused on improving cancer outcomes for people with severe mental illness. In collaboration with community partners, she is also establishing a 2nd opinion service for patients with severe mental illness and cancer.
Dr. Irwin’s research interests focus on understanding health disparities for individuals with severe mental illness (SMI). Dr. Irwin is interested in understanding why people with SMI including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are more likely to die from cancer and in developing interventions to improve cancer outcomes throughout the continuum of cancer care including prevention, early detection, treatment, and end-of-life care. She is investigating communication about smoking cessation, perceptions of cancer risk, and cancer screening in individuals with schizophrenia. She is also conducting a retrospective cohort study investigating inequities in cancer treatment for patients with severe mental illness and completing a qualitative study of oncology and mental health clinicians examining barriers to cancer care for people with schizophrenia. With support from the American Cancer Society, she is currently piloting an intervention incorporating proactive psychiatry consultation and case management for individuals with severe mental illness and cancer.
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