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URMC / Clinical & Translational Science Institute / Stories / September 2023 / Pisani Awarded First Robert G. Holloway CTSI KL2 Alumni Lectureship

Pisani Awarded First Robert G. Holloway CTSI KL2 Alumni Lectureship

Anthony R. Pisani, PhD, is the first recipient of the Robert G. Holloway CTSI KL2 Alumni Lectureship in Clinical & Translational Science. The lectureship was created to recognize past UR CTSI Career Development Award translational scientists and mentors who have gone on to significantly contribute to the University’s national reputation for research. The lectureship was named in honor of Robert Holloway, MD, MPH, who served as director of the KL2 program for 17 years.

“This award means a great deal to me,” Pisani said. “Having my name in the same sentence with Bob Holloway’s name is a huge honor. I admire Dr. Holloway as a leader, researcher, educator, and person.”

The UR CTSI Career Development Award—or KL2—is a grant that provides two years of financial and mentoring support for multidisciplinary clinical and translational scientists in the early phases of their careers.  Pisani’s KL2 project, "Help-seeking among suicidal adolescents: Testing the role of emotion regulation and connectedness with parents,” was funded from 2011-2013. Through this project, he identified targets for a text messaging intervention that he tested in a National Institute of Mental Health grant that followed.

The KL2 was critical in my transition from clinical and administrative leadership to research,” Pisani said. “After experiencing suicide loss, I found my calling in suicide prevention. Thanks to training grants like the KL2, I was supported to follow that calling through translational research.”

Pisani currently leads a large effectiveness trial (1R01MH119264) to evaluate the effectiveness of the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program, a brief narrative intervention for suicide survivors on suicide re-attempts, and is overseeing a pilot randomized controlled trial (R34MH131914) testing the feasibility and target engagement of a novel group and phone follow-up intervention for guests receiving care for suicidal crises in crisis stabilization centers.

A major focus of his research is selecting and maximizing everyday technologies such as text messaging and video to safely and ethically extend the impact of face-to-face preventive interventions. This research includes developing a text messaging component of an intervention for United States Air Force personnel, creating an automated text messaging intervention to extend the reach of a school-based suicide prevention program, and employing text and video messaging in a substance use prevention program.

Holloway is proud to see Pisani as the lectureship’s first recipient.

“I knew the minute I met Tony in 2009 that he would be a great success,” Holloway said. “He has become one of the world authorities in suicide prevention and has had as much impact on the health and well-being of patients around the globe as any faculty—truly an inspiration.  He is a model academic we all aspire to, and precisely what is intended for the career trajectories of all KL2 scholars. We are so proud of Tony and grateful for his willingness to pass forward his experience to those following in his footsteps.”

As a program alumnus, Pisani served on the KL2 review committee for several years, evaluating applications and providing constructive feedback.

“The program receives high-quality proposals and is highly competitive, as applicants are outstanding early career colleagues across disciplines at the University,” Pisani said. “Once in the program, it doesn’t just provide salary coverage—you are entering a career development program with an incredible array of UR CTSI resources. I would encourage faculty at any stage of their career to familiarize themselves with the support that is available through UR CTSI.”

Steven Silverstein, PhD, and Peter Wyman, PhD, supported Pisani’s nomination for the alumni lectureship. Wyman served as his mentor during his time with the KL2 program.

“Tony now plays a critical role in mentoring and developing research faculty,” Wyman said in his letter of support. “He is currently mentoring two T-32 postdoctoral fellows and was recently named academic chief for Acute and Adult Psychiatry—a role that involves mentorship and promotion planning for research faculty and fostering new research within his division. Tony's years of service alongside Dr. Holloway on the KL2 scientific review committee further demonstrate his commitment to nurturing future researchers.”

Silverstein focused on Pisani’s research work on suicide prevention.

“After a heartbreaking patient suicide, Dr. Pisani shifted his clinical and research focus to improving care for suicidal individuals, leading to the development of a framework for formulating and responding to suicide risk that is now being implemented around the world,” Silverstein said in his letter of support. “Pisani's research trajectory epitomizes the translational cycle and the goals of the KL2 scholar program, leveraging early-career funding opportunities to build an impactful research program.”

These findings informed Suicide Prevention, a book published by Cambridge University Press that Pisani co-authored.

As the first recipient of the Robert G. Holloway CTSI KL2 Alumni Lectureship in Clinical & Translational Science, Pisani will receive an honorarium and deliver the keynote address at the UR CTSI Translational Research Day this November.

Jonathan Raab | 9/12/2023

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