The integration of patient care and clinical research has been a hallmark of the Department of Psychiatry for more than 30 years. The department’s programs were built on a strong foundation of clinical care and clinical research, typically beginning from clinical trials conducted in clinical units and expanding to observational and mechanistic studies with notable expansions in genetics, neuroimaging and basic neuroscience. Over the years, there has been an enormous expansion in the overall volume of research and associated research funding, as well as a gradual shift in funding from pharmaceutical sponsorship to federal and foundation funding.

The department has cultivated highly productive clinical and research programs focused on each of the major domains of mental health and psychopathology:

  • Pediatric psychiatry
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Anxiety and traumatic stress disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Disorders of aging
  • Eating disorders
  • Women’s mental health
  • General hospital psychiatry

Each program is staffed by expert clinical researchers and clinicians working together to care for patients and conduct cutting-edge clinical research. In addition, our neuroscience, neuroimaging and genetic research programs include clinical and translational researchers whose work is informed and motivated by the unmet needs of our patient populations.

This research is making it possible to pinpoint affected areas of the brain; understand inherited risk factors and the role of environmental stress; develop more effective psychotherapies, medications, and neurotherapeutic treatments; and ultimately to prevent these illnesses from occurring by intervening early.

Participation in Major National Studies

Clinical researchers in our department have had leadership roles in landmark national studies of the course, genetics and treatment of major psychiatric disorders. This includes a series of federally funded treatment studies begun in the late 1990s and a wide variety of other national programs.

Future of Psychiatry Research at Mass General

The breadth and depth of our psychiatric research continues to grow despite the challenges of an uncertain funding environment. From its roots as a department known for its contributions in consultation-liaison psychiatry and psychopharmacology with little external funding, the Department of Psychiatry now has 60 active research programs and laboratories. In particular, the department has established highly productive research programs in three cross-cutting domains:

  1. Neuroimaging and neuroscience
  2. Genetics and genomics
  3. Clinical trials

Our Research Activities

Pre-clinical and Translational Research

Our neuroscience, neuroimaging and genetic research programs include clinical and translational researchers whose work is informed and motivated by the unmet needs of our patient populations. Our programs include:

Clinical Research

The model of integrating clinical work and research is evident even in the names of the department’s major programs, such as the “Depression Clinical and Research Program,” the “Bipolar Clinic and Research Program,” and the “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Clinic and Research Unit.” Our programs include:

 

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