November 10, 2006
Contact: Kaylyn Kendall Dines
Psychologist Brings $3.4 Million in Research Awards to New Division
Clinical Trials Available for Schizophrenia Patients
PISCATAWAY — Helping adults who have schizophrenia is the focus of several innovative clinical trials that are being conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey by an internationally recognized psychologist.
Individuals suffering from schizophrenia may benefit from the programs and studies that are being offered at the newly established Division of Schizophrenia Research of the UMDNJ-University Behavioral Health Care. Dr. Steven Silverstein, who joined the university as director of the division, brings more than $3.4 million to UMDNJ in grant awards from prestigious mental health organizations.
Patients may participate in clinical trials designed to improve the ability of patients to pay attention during, and learn from, interventions that teach important coping skills, and therefore to enhance cognitive and social functioning.
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that affects approximately one percent of the population worldwide.
“Dr. Silverstein’s presence on our Piscataway campus allows UMDNJ’s University Behavioral HealthCare to offer specially tailored services that improve memory deficits and help people who have this severe medical illness as they cope with daily chores and responsibilities,” said Christopher O. Kosseff, president and CEO of the UMDNJ-University Behavioral HealthCare.
The studies underway include:
· A NIMH-funded study to improve how much people pay attention in psychiatric rehabilitation groups. Through partial hospitalization and out-patient treatments, researchers will help clients learn basic skills to function better in the community.
· Researchers will use an injected form of medication to determine whether it improves memory and skills learning during social skills training group. (This study may be ideal for people who are not diligently taking their medications as prescribed and are suffering relapses that result in hospitalization.)
· A double-blind study is comparing the impact of pregnenolone supplements on reducing cognitive disability and symptoms of withdrawal and apathy in schizophrenia patients. Pregnenolone is a hormone produced by the body. Clients in this study will continue to take all of their prescribed medications.
· Another study will measure the feasibility of using computerized testing to assess each participant’s attention span, memory, reaction time and problem solving abilities. These are functions that are typically impaired in people who have schizophrenia. This study will assess whether computerized testing is preferred when compared with pencil and paper testing methods, and whether it leads to equivalent results.
“Recovery involves effective rehabilitation treatment that uses interventions that help men and women remember what they’ve learned,” said Dr. Silverstein, who also holds a position as an associate professor of psychiatry at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Although medications can be effective in treating many psychological symptoms related to schizophrenia, for many people, major challenges involves helping people gain or regain life skills that are necessary for effective daily functioning and making progress towards personal goals.”
Dr. Silverstein earned his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1989. He also completed an internship and fellowship at Cornell Medical College in New York. Later he held administrative positions at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Second Chance Program at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, a nationally recognized program for the psychiatric rehabilitation of people with schizophrenia who were considered “treatment-refractory” in state hospitals.
Prior to joining the faculty at UMDNJ, Dr. Silverstein was clinical director of the Psychosis Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center from 2003 to 2006. He has published over 80 articles and is currently chair-elect of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Serious Mental Illness.
For more information, call UMDNJ’s Division of Schizophrenia Research at 732-235-5565.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.