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NIMH/CSPS Postdoctoral Training in Suicide Prevention Research (T32 MH20061)

Suicide Prevention ribbons

Welcome to our Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in
Suicide Prevention Research

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., with nearly 50,000 people dying by suicide each year. We are dedicated to the scientific study of suicide—discovering its causes and developing approaches for its prevention. Our research tests interventions across universal, selective, and indicated treatment methods and in a variety of vulnerable groups, including adolescents, older adults, victims of violence, and Veterans as well as individuals with medical, psychiatric, and social comorbidities.

Message from the Directors

We strive to educate a research workforce with the knowledge and skills to conduct the full spectrum of suicide studies and prepare early career investigators for successful academic careers. Now in its 23rd year, our fellowship is supported by a National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).We strive to create a vibrant community of scholars whose diverse backgrounds and approaches to suicide prevention science contribute to our learning environment and to the Center’s ultimate goal of reducing suicide-related deaths.

We invite you to learn more, and reach out to us with questions related to our postdoctoral training program or the research projects we support. Thank you for your interest in our fellowship program, and your interest in contributing to the study and prevention of suicide.

Yeates Conwell, MD & Kimberly Van Orden, PhD
Co-Directors of the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Suicide Prevention Research with the Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide at the University of Rochester Medical Center

Program Highlights

  • Two years of stipend support and related benefits (with a third year available under some circumstances)
  • Support from a primary mentor who will recommend courses and training activities based on your needs and research interests
  • Intensive mentorship in grant writing, study design, and implementation as well as data analysis from core faculty
  • Access to advisors from both the University of Rochester and the Veteran’s Affairs VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention
  • Collaborative relationship with the VA Advanced Fellowship in Veteran Mental Health & Suicide Prevention
  • Clinical opportunities based on your program of research


As a fellow, you will participate in a combination of mentored research (study design and implementation, data analysis, grant and paper writing), seminars and didactic sessions on suicide research as well as topics related to more general academic career development. Based on your career goals and research objectives, the program will take 2 (or sometimes 3) years to complete. 

Fellowship Faculty Mentors

The list below denotes faculty members who are actively recruiting fellows to join their labs for summer/fall 2023. (Other faculty members may be able to mentor as well and we encourage you to reach out).

Lisham (Lee) Ashrafioun, PhD  

  • Substance use disorders, chronic pain, and suicide
  • Psychosocial pain and substance use disorders treatments; health services intervention to increase engagement in psychosocial treatments
  • Veterans
  • Current projects for fellow involvement: trials of clinical and health services research on mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral interventions among individuals with substance use disorders and/or chronic pain; Secondary analysis from clinical trials, publicly available datasets, and electronic health record data; program evaluation research in community-based projects to prevent overdose in rural communities
  • Contact Dr. Ashrafioun

Eric Caine, MD

  • Public health and population-based approaches to suicide prevention
  • Policy
  • Contact Dr. Caine

Kate Cerulli, JD, PhD

  • Interpersonal violence and suicide
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Therapeutic justice
  • Contact Dr. Cerulli

Kenneth Conner, PsyD, MPH

  • Substance abuse and suicide
  • High risk approaches
  • Emergency care
  • Current projects for fellow involvement: Opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Conner’s program of research on suicidal behavior and substance use and with research investigators and resources in the UR Department of Emergency Medicine.
  • Contact Dr. Conner

Yeates Conwell, MD

  • Suicide in later life
  • Health and aging services and interventions research
  • Contact Dr. Conwell

Paul Geha, MD

  • Chronic pain & suicide
  • Methodologies include brain imaging & natural language processing
  • Current projects for fellow involvement: study examining the language of chronic pain using natural language and acoustic analyses; study of brain biomarkers of risk and resilience to chronic pain using fMRI.
  • Contact Dr. Geha

Will Pigeon, PhD 

  • Sleep problems and suicide
  • Behavioral interventions research
  • Veterans
  • Current projects for fellow involvement: Opportunity to be involved in a large, 4-year, innovative clinical trial testing digital interventions for insomnia and depression; access to resources of The Sleep & Neurophysiology Sleep Research Laboratory (a fully equipped 4-bedroom lab); collaborations with our Behavioral Sleep Medicine Service.
  • Contact Dr. Pigeon

Yue Li, PhD

  • Health economics
  • Older adult health services research
  • Big data analytics, machine learning
  • Contact Dr. Li

Tony Pisani, PhD

  • Clinical assessment and management of at risk groups
  • Training models
  • Behavioral interventions research
  • Contact Dr. Pisani

Marc Swogger, PhD

  • Forensic and justice-involved individuals at risk
  • Behavioral health treatment engagement and treatment to reduce risk
  • Contact Dr. Swogger

Kim Van Orden, PhD 

  • Later life suicide prevention research
  • Psychosocial interventions for loneliness, isolation
  • Interpersonal Theory of Suicide
  • Current projects for fellow involvement: clinical trial of a brief coaching program (Engage Coaching) to reduce loneliness in older adults, including the use of smartphone-based monitoring (active & passive monitoring); co-mentoring with Dr. Caroline Silva on a clinical trial of Engage Coaching for Spanish-speakers; collaboration with Dr. Aileen Aldalur on suicide risk in Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing adults; secondary data analysis from several clinical trials with lonely older adults.
  • Contact Dr. Van Orden

Arielle Sheftall, PhD

  • Developmental mechanisms that confer risk for suicide in childhood
  • Racial disparities in suicidal behavior among youth
  • Mental health promotion and suicide prevention for Black youth
  • Current projects for fellow involvement: a longitudinal study investigating the relationship between trajectories of neurocognitive functioning and emotion regulation/reactivity and suicidal behavior in youth with a parental history of suicidal behavior; a longitudinal study investigating familial characteristics, ADHD symptomology, and neurocognitive functioning in suicide risk; a randomized control trial that investigates the effectiveness of two non-traditional methods of therapy in decreasing depression and anxiety symptomology as well as suicidal behavior.
  • Contact Dr. Sheftall

Steve Silverstein, PhD 

  • Suicide risk in first-episode psychosis and high-risk states
  • Relationships between perceptual changes and suicide risk in schizophrenia and risk states
  • Suicide risk and mental health after vision loss
  • Contact Dr. Silverstein

Sheree Toth, PhD (not able to accept fellows currently)

  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Child maltreatment, maternal depression influences
  • Preventive interventions with at-risk youth
  • Contact Dr. Toth

Marsha Wittink, MD

  • Severe mental illness and psychotic disorders
  • Medical comorbidity, especially cardiovascular disease, diabetes, COPD
  • Hospital outcomes such as length of stay and readmission rate, primary care outcomes such as engagement in care, process metrics
  • Current projects for fellow involvement: Opportunity to be involved in comparison of 3 medical psychiatry units, patient characteristics and health utilization outcomes, development of research infrastructure for longitudinal mental health, cognitive, functional and physical functioning over time.  
  • Contact Dr. Wittink

Peter Wyman, PhD

  • Youth and young adults/military populations
  • Social network analysis
  • Community-partnered interventions research
  • Contact Dr. Wyman

Check out our full list of faculty

Application and Contact information

Salary and Benefits

Stipends are as specified by NIH guidelines

Fellows are eligible for health and life insurance benefits through the University of Rochester and a travel stipend is provided.

Learn About Living in Rochester

How to Apply

Because our program is supported by federal grant funding, applicants must be a US citizen or permanent resident. Trainees with backgrounds relevant to suicide prevention including psychiatry and other medical specialties, nursing, psychology, social work, or public health are best suited to this opportunity.

Members of under-represented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Application Checklist

  • CV
  • Statement of career goals and interests
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the candidate’s academic performance

Upload your application materials here

Please have your letter writers email their letter, signed on letter head, directly to:

Yeates Conwell, MD
Program Co-Director
University of Rochester Medical Center
300 Crittenden Road
Rochester, NY  14642
Phone:  585-275-6739
Fax:  585-273-1066

Contact Us

For questions or additional information regarding our program, please contact: 

Fellowship Coordinator
Holly Murphy
(585) 275-2047
Fellowship Coordinator