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Current Research Projects

Menninger is involved in a number of research projects designed to advance the field of mental health as well as improve the treatment offered at The Clinic. These projects include:

McNair Initiative for Neuroscience Discovery-Menninger & Baylor College of Medicine (MIND-MB)

Principal investigator: Ramiro Salas, PhD

Co-principal investigator: B. Christopher Frueh, PhD
Co-investigators: Chris Fowler, PhD, Carla Sharp, PhD, David Nielsen, PhD, Philip Baldwin, PhD
MIND-MB is a comprehensive, five-year neuroscience research study designed to improve the identification of anatomical, physiological and genetic abnormalities and risk factors of mental illnesses. The research aims to increase understanding of mental disease progression and factors that impact treatment outcomes. It will create a databank of adult and adolescent brain scans, genetic samples and assessments from approximately 2,500 adult and adolescent psychiatric patients suffering from multiple mental illnesses.
Participating patients undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as well as functional MRI (fMRI), which allows researchers to analyze the brain’s regions and neuronal connectivity during brain activity. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is also conducted to analyze the nerve pathways in the brain.
A subset of Menninger patients are rescanned approximately 21 days after the initial brain scans are taken, once comprehensive treatment is well underway. This comparison, using the fMRI, allows researchers to see the difference in brain activity after a standard length of treatment has been completed.


Hospital-wide Outcomes Project

Principal investigator: Jon G. Allen, PhD

Co-principal investigator: Chris Fowler, PhD
Co-investigators: Thomas E. Ellis, PsyD, ABPP, B. Christopher Frueh, PhD, Susan Hardesty, MD, John M. Oldham, MD, MS, Jane Mahoney, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, Carla Sharp, PhD, Rebecca Wagner, PhD
All adults admitted to The Clinic are invited to participate in this project, which evaluates clinical status during the course of their hospitalization and after discharge. Participating patients are administered structured psychiatric interviews (e.g., the SCID-I and SCID-II) at admission, as well as a battery of self-report tests that provide objective data on clinical symptoms, level of functioning, interpersonal relationships, and treatment progress and process (working relationships with treatment team members and treatment engagement). Patients are asked to complete a similar battery of self-report measures two weeks after discharge and then every three months after that for 18 months. More than 1,600 patients have participated in the study since it began in 2008.

Adolescent Outcomes Project

Principal investigator: Carla Sharp, PhD
Co-investigators: Efrain Bleiberg, MD, and Peter Fonagy, PhD, FBA
Similar to the hospital-wide outcomes project, adolescents admitted to The Clinic’s Adolescent Treatment Program are invited to participate in this project, which evaluates clinical outcomes during the course of their hospitalization and after discharge. This includes efforts to test measures of social cognition (mentalizing) in adolescence that can then be used to identify specific dysfunctions and deficits of adolescent breakdown and major adolescent psychiatric disorders; and identify the mentalizing markers of emerging personality disorders in adolescent patients compared with healthy adolescents in the short term and over longer periods compared with markers identified among adult patients.

Suicide Prevention

Principal investigator: Thomas E. Ellis, PsyD, ABPP

Co-investigators: Jon G. Allen, PhD, and Chris Fowler, PhD
Menninger is the first hospital to evaluate the efficacy of the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicide (CAMS) approach in the treatment of psychiatric inpatients with current or recent suicidal ideation and behavior.

Nursing Research

Principal investigator: Jane Mahoney, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC
This research program has two components: the examination of institutional data and practices to ensure the safety of psychiatric inpatients, including examining measures of seclusion and restraint and developing strategies to reduce their use; and an evidence-based scholars program to train, mentor and supervise research projects of nursing trainees, with the goal of teaching them to evaluate and incorporate evidence-based practices in their routine practice.

Clinical Trials Research

Principal investigator: B. Christopher Frueh, PhD
This research focuses on clinical trials and mental health service delivery in a variety of medical and mental health settings to improve treatment for people with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Funding comes from agencies like National Institute of Mental Health, Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense. The goal of this research is to improve services and examine the impact of traumatic exposure on relevant mental health, health and economic variables in both veterans with military trauma and civilians with interpersonal violence trauma.

Eating Disorders Outcomes Research

Principal investigator: Rebecca Wagner, PhD

Adult inpatients who need support for eating disorders while hospitalized for a primary psychiatric disorder are invited to participate in research that evaluates clinical outcomes specific to our eating disorders track. Participation takes place during hospitalization and after discharge.