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Severe Mental Disorders Program

The Severe Mental Disorder Program’s mission is to promote recovery from schizophrenia and related disorders through development, implementation and dissemination of new treatment and rehabilitation approaches.

Research in the SMDP is conducted through the Schizophrenia Treatment Laboratory that is housed within Strong Ties Community Support Program, at 2613 W. Henrietta Road in Rochester, NY. The Schizophrenia Treatment Laboratory’s mission is to develop new treatment and rehabilitation approaches for adults with schizophrenia and related disorders. Supported by the National Institute of Mental Health and other funding sources, the Laboratory conducts an array of treatment-focused research activities. Recent projects include:

  • The NIMH Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) study
  • The NIMH Comparison of Antipsychotic Metabolic Properties (CAMP) study
  • An NIMH-funded study to standardize and test the Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) model
  • An NIMH-funded study of Metformin in the treatment of antipsychotic-induced weight gain
  • An NIMH-funded study of Vitamin B-12 and Folate in treating cognitive and negative symptoms in schizophrenia
  • A NYS Department of Health sponsored study of a nursing-based tobacco dependence intervention for adults with severe mental illness
  • A CARES-funded study of the effectiveness of YMCA and Compeer intervention at promoting physical wellness (the Friends In Motion Study)
  • A NYS Parole study of the effectiveness of combined housing, vocational services and Project Link at promoting community adjustment of severely mentally ill parolees (the Link to Change Study)
  • Industry-sponsored studies of antipsychotic drugs in phase-II and phase-III of development

Under direction of J. Steven Lamberti, MD, the Schizophrenia Treatment Laboratory features a multidisciplinary team of investigators, clinical research coordinators, nurses and support staff. All are dedicated to developing novel treatments and services for adults who suffer from schizophrenia and related disorders.

Principal Investigators

J. Steven Lamberti, MD: Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Severe Mental Disorders Program. Research interests are preventing recidivism among high-risk patients, relapse prevention, and improving tolerability and effectiveness of pharmacotherapy for schizophrenia.

Robert L, Weisman, DO: Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Director, Strong Ties Community Support Program. Research interests are community-based care for mentally ill offenders, pharmacological management of aggression, and psychosocial interventions to promote physical health and wellness.

Thomas Jewell, PhD: Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology). Research interests are development of family-based interventions in schizophrenia, and large-scale dissemination of evidence-based practices.

Karen Wiener, MD: Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry. Research interests are pharmacological management of drug refractory schizophrenia and management of drug-induced obesity.

Leslie Tomek, MD: Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. Research interests are physical health and wellness among adults with schizophrenia and other severe mental disorders.

Telva Olivares, MD: Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine, Research interests are health integration and cross-cultural service delivery.

Diane Morse, MD: Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine. Research interests are health integration and prevention of domestic violence.

Laboratory Staff

  • Ellen Raisbeck, CCRC: Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Tamara Bilinski, MA, CCRC: Information Analyst
  • David B. Jacobowitz, MA: Health Project Coordinator
  • Jacqueline S. Milligan, MA: Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Peg Bushey, NP: Nurse Practitioner
  • Marci Dietz, MS, RN: Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Heather Muxworthy, DNP, PMHNP-BC: Nurse Practitioner
  • Wendy Pettit, MS, RN, NP: Nurse Practitioner
  • John Rushforth, MS, RN, NPP: Nurse Practitioner

Study Subjects

The Schizophrenia Treatment Laboratory is located within Strong Ties Community Support Program. Strong Ties is the largest outpatient clinic of the URMC Department of Psychiatry, serving nearly 1,500 outpatients with schizophrenia and other severe mental disorders. Established in 1988 under the innovative Monroe-Livingston Project, Strong Ties Community Support Program specializes in providing community-based care to severely mentally ill adults through a wide array of services. While comprehensive outpatient care is provided at Strong Ties, Strong Memorial Hospital provides an array of additional services, including inpatient treatment, partial hospital, emergency room services and extended observation beds. All sites have been successfully utilized for recruitment of study subjects within the Schizophrenia Treatment Laboratory.

Laboratory Resources

The Schizophrenia Treatment Laboratory uses Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) for review of industry-sponsored studies, and URMC’s Research.

Subjects Review Board (RSRB) for federally funded studies. The review and approval time is approximately 2-4 weeks. All studies can receive ancillary support from licensed pharmacists, who either directly aid in stocking the unit medication or store the study medications in a double locked location prior to dispensing.

The Schizophrenia Treatment Laboratory has the resources available to meet the needs of most clinical trials including onsite pharmacists, phlebotomists, ECG machines and trained technicians, storage space for current source documents and Case Report Forms as well as space for record retention. Ample space is provided for study monitors and/or sponsors to work comfortably during site all visits.