Department Small Grants Program funds new research

Department news | April 30, 2020

We are delighted to announce the recipients of the 2020 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Small Grants Program aimed at advancing the clinical, educational, research, and/or advocacy missions of our department. We were able to allocate nearly $ 100,000 to a wonderful set of diverse proposals from faculty, staff and trainees on a wide range of topics. In addition to the projects funded below, we had two proposals funded by the Population Health Initiative COVID-19 rapid response grantsThe Staying in Touch and Engaged Project (STEP) submitted by Seema Clifasefi, PhD, and colleagues, and the Washington State COVID-19 Pregnancy Collaborative submitted by Amritha Bhat, MD, MPH, and colleagues. Congratulations to everyone!

  • Validating a non-invasive imaging method to measure astroglial water transport in brain health and disease
    Deidre Jansson, PhD, and Jeffrey Iliff, PhD, will determine the accuracy and specificity of Arterial spin labeling (ASL) — a non‐invasive perfusion technique used in MRI to track cerebral blood flow — in measuring vascular and glial‐dependent water transfer to establish whether it is a valuable clinical tool in Alzheimer’s disease. This simple and safe technique, already approved for use in a clinical setting, has potential to circumvent current invasive approaches in human subjects at risk for AD‐related dementias.
  • Does the microbiome play a role in adverse outcomes following mTBI and PTSD?
    Kathleen Pagulayan, PhD, Abigail Schindler, PhD, and Rebecca Hendrickson, MD, PhD, will conduct a preliminary investigation into the potential association between microbiota abundance, hormone levels, and peripheral inflammation and current symptoms (psychiatric and cognitive) in Veterans with and without a history of mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). This work has the potential to form a new line of research that could ultimately provide new treatment options for individuals who have treatment-resistant emotional and cognitive difficulties post-mTBI.
  • Reengineering siloed systems of care for youth through evidence-integrated design thinking
    Lindsey Weil, PhDSarah Walker, PhD, and Larry Wissow, MD, will assess the acceptability and feasibility of a “System Codesign” process as a tailored implementation method for tackling complex behavioral healthcare issues. They intend to partner with the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) to pilot this approach with Grays Harbor County which has a high prevalence of youth behavioral health needs. The proposed design workgroup will leverage cross-system participation from behavioral health, pediatrics, juvenile justice, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, schools, and families/youth.
  • Attitudes, readiness, and adoption of digital health in community mental health centers during the COVID-19 pandemic
    Suzanne Meller, MPH, MSW, and Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD, will conduct a mixed-methods study of community mental health centers in the Puget-Sound region regarding clinician attitudes and adoption of digital health technology in their work with adults living with serious mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study will allow examination of how community mental health centers overcame potential barriers quickly and implemented digital health technology in order to provide critical services to vulnerable community members.
  • Disseminating a user-friendly guide: Advancing the science of intervention adaptation and improving access to evidence-based psychological treatment
    Stephanie Brewer, PhD, and Aaron Lyon, PhD, will use multiple strategies to disseminate a newly developed guide for adapting evidence-based practices and programs (EBPs) titled MODIFI: Making Optimal Decisions for Intervention Flexibility during Implementation. Dissemination of MODIFI will improve the practice of intervention adaptation in real-world settings by providing practitioners with a how-to guide that is (a) evidence-based, (b) usable, and (c) supported by the expert consensus of implementation practitioners and researchers.
  • Engaging families of children with rare genetic disorders via a novel online platform
    Kaitlyn Ahlers, PhDEva Kurtz-Nelson, PhD, and Rachel Earl, PhD, will engage families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and CHD8 mutations with GroopIt, an innovative online app, to empower families to be partners in research. The project would utilize a community‐based participatory research (CBPR) approach and enable families to identify research priorities. Through an established Facebook group for CHD8, families will be surveyed to prioritize research topics of interest that were identified in the focus groups, such as parenting stress or gastrointestinal problems. The use of the updated GroopIt platform as an innovative, online tool will increase both the engagement and accessibility of research to families of children with rare genetic disorders associated with ASD.
  • Harm reduction in the context of social distancing: a time-sensitive COVID-19-related personalized normative feedback program addressing high-risk alcohol use and encouraging engagement in adaptive coping and social behaviors
    Christine Lee, PhD, and Jennifer Cadigan, PhD, will develop and examine the feasibility and acceptability of a time-sensitive COVID-19-specific personalized normative feedback (PNF) focused on drinking motivations to cope with distress and/or to enhance social connectedness, as well as to promote engagement in strategies for stress management and increase engagement in social, alcohol-free activities while also practicing social distancing.
  • Stay Connected: developing an intervention to promote mental health among isolated senior housing residents
    Patrick Raue, PhD, Patricia Areán, PhD, and Brenna Renn, PhD, will learn from current cohorts of senior housing residents experiencing social distancing challenges to create a program that will respect the need to minimize risk of exposure to infection while also addressing risk factors associated with depression and anxiety in late life (social isolation). The project will also focus on the corresponding needs of housing staff in promoting the health and well‐being of their residents, and will address the insufficient workforce of geriatric mental health providers but utilizing Bachelor’s-level providers.