The Bradley Hasbro Children`s Research Center

Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Clinical Psychology Training Consortium
Postdoctoral Fellowship Description: RESEARCH FOCUS
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Adolescent Psychopathology: Social and (Epi)genetic
Influences on Adolescents Discharged from Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitalization
Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center
Nicole Nugent, Ph.D., Primary Supervisor
Tony Spirito, Ph.D.
Richard Liu, Ph.D.
Jennifer Wolff, Ph.D.
Description of Site
The Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center (BHCRC) combines child and adolescent expertise from two of the
major teaching hospitals for The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Bradley Hospital and Hasbro
Children’s Hospital. Bradley Hospital is the nation’s first psychiatric hospital devoted to children and adolescents and is a
national leader in training and research in child and adolescent psychiatry.
Fellowship Aims
1. To provide the fellow with broad post-doctoral training in the area of assessment of psychopathology, trauma,
and suicidal thoughts and behaviors with a high risk population.
2. To provide the fellow with a strong working knowledge of research involving technology (including
ecological assessment tools) and genetics/epigenetics.
3. To provide the fellow with research training and experience in preparation for a research career in adolescent
Fellowship Timeline
The duration of the fellowship is 1 year with possibility to extend to a second year contingent upon satisfactory progress.
The anticipated start date is August 2015.
Research Activity Plan
The five-year NIMH-funded research project involves in vivo characterization of naturalistic phenomena associated with
adolescent suicide risk after discharge from Bradley Hospital. The research leverages ecological methods and devices that
allow acoustic capture of an individual’s social environment and self- reports of experienced affect. The expectation of the
research is that social context and experienced affect are reciprocally reinforcing and that a reactive style involves close
coupling of stressful social context (isolation, conflictual or high affect interactions) with affect reactivity (rapidly
changing, intense affect, with slow return to baseline) increases risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The research also
involves examination of childhood maltreatment and epigenetic markers as predictors of post-discharge reactivity. Two
hundred youth hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and behaviors will be followed prospectively using ecological methods
and devices for three weeks following psychiatric discharge; suicidal thoughts and behaviors will be reassessed at 6
months. The study further innovates through the incorporation of affect reactivity biomarkers (in-hospital blood samples
for assessment of DNA/DNAm/expression). The proposed study merges multiple fields of study and permits an
innovative and thorough characterization of the real-world interplay of affect and social context. Results of this
investigation will inform a number of intervention approaches including family therapy, EMA-based adjunctive
intervention, and pharmacological approaches.
The postdoctoral fellow will work with the supervisors to oversee implementation of an investigation of adolescents
hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and behaviors at Bradley Hospital. This will involve overseeing research assistant
recruitment and follow-up procedures and conducting clinical interviews.
Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Clinical Psychology Training Consortium
Postdoctoral Fellowship Description: RESEARCH FOCUS
In addition to experiences included in coordination of the primary research project, at least 20% of the experience will
consist of promoting development of the fellow’s independent program of research (subsumed under grant writing and
manuscript preparation described below). The nature of this 20% independent research program will be collaboratively
determined by the fellow and supervisor(s) and will involve the production of a traditional scientific product (e.g.,
manuscript, presentation at a national professional meeting, grant application, instrument development); the independent
program of research may involve new directions taken using resources (i.e., data, research population, etc) provided by
the mentorship team and/or may involve continued development of the trainee’s prior work (i.e., publication of
The fellow will be exposed to various aspects of research via participation in the following activities:
Study coordination (25%): The fellow will collaborate with the PI (Dr. Nugent) to coordinate an
investigation recently funded by NIMH.
Clinical interviewing (15%): At least 15% of research time will involve administering supervised semistructured diagnostic clinical interviews, which may also count toward clinical assessment hours toward
licensure. Supervisors for clinical interviews will be Drs. Spirito, Liu, and Nugent.
Review of relevant literature (10%): The fellow will be provided with a series of readings in the area. This
review will be matched to fellow training and career goals and can focus on a range of areas such as
adolescent psychopathology, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder,
statistical modeling, ecological momentary assessment, or genetics and epigenetics.
Grant writing (15%): The fellow will be encouraged to develop a grant idea and submit a grant proposal by
the end of a two-year fellowship term.
Manuscript preparation and submission (15%): The fellow will be encouraged to collaborate on manuscript
preparation and poster submissions at national conferences. Individually tailored goals will be established in
this area.
Clinical Activity Plan
25% of fellow time will consist of activities that will permit accrual of supervised clinical hours for licensure. 10%
of the fellow’s time will be devoted to direct service to adolescent inpatients by co -leading skills groups on the
adolescent inpatient unit (Supervisor: Dr. Wolff). The fellow will also provide consultation to nursing and milieu
staff in their provision of individual skills training to adolescent inpatients (Supervisor: Wolff). Pending interest
and fellow’s prior clinical experiences, additional experiences may be available such as opportunities to gain
clinical experience with pediatric refugees (supervisor: Nugent). As described under research activities, another
15% (supervisors: Nugent, Spirito, Liu) of skilled supervised clinical assessment hours will be obtained as part of
the clinical research implementation.
Licensure as a Psychologist: The fellow will be able to work towards successfully negotiating all aspects of the
licensure process, and obtain licensure as a psychologist. In order to sit for licensure, the fellow must attend the
monthly Clinical Ethics Seminar during the first year of the fellowship.
Path toward licensure: YES__X___ NO_____ The fellow will receive clinical hours toward licensing through both the
clinical activity plan as well as clinical research activities (structured clinical assessments of adolescents).
The fellow will participate in the following post-doctoral seminars through the Brown Post Doctoral Training Program
(for up to 10% of fellow time). The fellow may participate in the weekly postdoctoral research seminars offered through
the Brown Post Doctoral Training Program. Depending on the specific interests and background of the research fellow,
additional didactics may be available to the postdoctoral fellow such as the monthly Behavioral Genetics Seminar and the
weekly Pediatric Psychology Seminar.
Core Seminars (1 per month)
DPHB Academic Grand Rounds (1 per month)
Clinical Ethics – if intending to sit for licensure (1 per month)
Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Clinical Psychology Training Consortium
Postdoctoral Fellowship Description: RESEARCH FOCUS
Relevant Track Seminars
Academic Friday – Grantsmanship seminars, Special Topics in Statistics.
Supervision and Evaluation
Supervision of both research and clinical duties will be provided in the form of weekly individual supervision (one hour
each, with Dr. Nugent primary research supervisor and Drs. Nugent, Spirito, Wolff, and Liu providing clinical supervision
as described above).
Every 6 months for the duration of the fellowship, the fellow and the supervisors will provide formal evaluations, and
evaluations of the program relative to the goals and learning objectives of the fellowship.
Resource Requirements
Fellow will be provided with the following resources:
Access to space to complete research responsibilities
A computer and project specific software including statistical software
Internet access
Reporting and approval
This fellowship will be part of the Child Track. The position has been discussed and approved by the Child track faculty
in their monthly meeting.
Postdoctoral Fellowship Track Coordinator
Associate Director for Investigator Funded Fellowship Positions/NIH Funded Fellowship Positions
Director, Brown Clinical Psychology Training Consortium