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Research

Research is a vital part of the Department of Psychiatry. We are committed to increase our knowledge through research and apply it directly to the care of the individual patient.

Departmental Faculty Research Interests

Viwek Bisen, DO

Interests:  psychosomatic medicine, suicide, economics of healthcare

 

Dr. Bisen is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and is interested in the interface of medicine and psychiatry.  Some of his interests are addiction, suicide, and neuropsychiatric disorders, specifically focusing on evidence based psychiatric care in a general hospital.  He is also interested in economics of healthcare, specifically sustainable healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship.

E-mail: bisenvs@rwjms.rutgers.edu

 

Nina Cooperman, PhD

Interests:  smoking cessation, drug use, and HIV

 

Dr. Cooperman is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS). Her recent work has focused on developing smoking cessation interventions for smokers in drug treatment, smokers with psychiatric and personality disorders, and smokers with HIV. She frequently presents at trainings conducted by faculty at the RWJMS Division of Psychiatry on Treating Tobacco Dependence in Behavioral Health Settings. She is the recipient of a National Institute on Drug Abuse Career Development Award to develop a smoking cessation intervention for opiate dependent smokers. Dr. Cooperman has been Principal or Co-investigator on several NIH funded studies, including projects investigating adherence to antiretroviral medication among people with HIV, smoking cessation interventions for smokers seeking treatment in the emergency department, and risky sexual behavior among women in Mumbai, India. She is a Motivational Interviewing Trainer; she has published many peer-reviewed research papers; and, she is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences.

E-mail:  cooperna@rwjms.rutgers.edu

 

Roseanne Dobkin, PhD

Interests:  Parkinson’s disease, depression, telemedicine

 

Dr. Roseanne Dobkin is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in Piscataway, NJ. She is also a practicing psychologist in New Jersey and Delaware. The majority of her research and clinical work over the past 13 years has focused on the treatment of the psychiatric complications (i.e., depression, anxiety, insomnia, cognition) in Parkinson’s disease (PD). She has also begun to systematically examine barriers to mental health care utilization in PD, as well as the use of telemedicine to leverage patient access to specialized mental health care. Dr. Dobkin's research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Patterson Trust Awards Program in Clinical Research, the Michael J.Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and the Health Services and Research Development Division (HSR&D) of the Veteran Affairs Administration.

E-mail:  dobkinro@rwjms.rutgers.edu  

 

Molly Erickson, PhD

Interests: schizophrenia, EEG, cognition

Dr. Erickson’s program of research is focused on understanding the neural mechanisms that give rise to sensory and early cognitive impairment in schizophrenia, with a larger aim to understand how early abnormalities impact cognitive domains that are important for functional outcome and overall quality of life. 

In pursuit of these aims, Dr. Erickson’s research includes the use of electroencephalography (EEG) and behavioral paradigms to understand basic neural and psychological processes associated with visual attention and working memory impairment among this patient population.  Additional areas of interest include the use of EEG to measure abnormalities in network organization during rest, as well as to understand the role of the glutamate signaling system in disrupted prediction formation and cognition more broadly.

E-mail: me401@ubhc.rutgers.edu

 

Javier Escobar, MD

Interests: Global Health, Psychiatric Diagnosis, Cross-Cultural Research.

 

Dr. Javier Escobar is a Professor of Psychiatry and the Associate Dean for Global Health.  His has done research on integration of mental health into primary care and interventions for medically unexplained physical symptoms,   He is currently co-investigator, mentor and advisor for international research projects on bipolar disorder and severe psychoses (schizophrenia) on population isolates that have been published in JAMA, Brain and other leading journals.   His research has been funded by NIH and many Foundations.  Also, he is involved in research mentoring for new investigators.

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E-mail: escobaja@rwjms.rutgers.edu

 

Michael Gara, PhD

Interests:  Social cognition in psychopathpology, medically unexplained physical symptoms, ethnic disparities in psychiatric diagnosis; statistics: data mining,  psychometrics; clinical trials

 

Dr. Gara is a Professor of Psychiatry and his ongoing research includes Ethnic Disparities in Psychiatric Diagnosis, particularly schizophrenia; Telepsychiatry for depression in Parkinson’s disease, and Treatment of Medically Unexplained Symptoms in Primary Care.  He serves as a consultant for NJ  State Trauma Informed Care Project, and as a statistician for a variety of other clinical trials.

E-mail: garami@ubhc.rutgers.edu 

 

Gary Aston-Jones, PhD

Interests:  brain neuromodulatory systems, cognitive performance, drug abuse, sleep and waking, and affective disorders

 

Dr. Aston-Jones is a Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the Rutgers Brain Health Institute.  He is interested in the role of locus coeruleus-noradrenergic system in behavior and cognitive processes.  He has conducted studies of the roles of brain modulatory systems in cognitive function throughout his career. He pioneered unit recordings from locus coeruleus (LC) noradrenergic neurons in behaving rats and monkeys, and currently use tetrodes and multi-electrode arrays to record from LC and cortical neurons in rats performing cognitive tasks. He developed prominent theories of LC function, culminating in the Adaptive Gain Theory.

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E-mail: gsa35@ca.rutgers.edu

 

Kenneth Kaufman, MD

Interests: Psychopharmacology, Epilepsy, Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, Sports psychiatry, Ethics

 

Dr. Kaufman is a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Anesthesiology with broad interests and associated eclectic publications.  He is a general psychiatrist specializing in affective (bipolar) disorders, psychiatric aspects of epilepsy, and the use of AEDs in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.  His focus on psychopharmacology has led to a better understanding of both unique efficacy of AEDs in psychiatry (“Antiepileptic drugs in the treatment of psychiatric disorders”).  His interests in ethics and sports and the World Anti-doping Code (WADC) have led to publications addressing the ethical use of pharmaceuticals in sports.  His interests in ethics and research design have led to publications on “Comparative bioethics in bipolar and epilepsy research” and “Ethical considerations in placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials.”  His interests in sports, epilepsy, sports psychiatry and psychiatric aspects of epilepsy have led to his co-authoring “Epilepsy, seizures, physical exercise and sports: A report from the ILAE Task Force on Sports and Epilepsy.”  He is on the editorial boards of British Journal of Psychiatry, Epilepsy & Behavior, and Annals of Clinical Psychiatry and is the Deputy Editor of BJPsych Open.

E-mail: kaufmakr@rwjms.rutgers.edu

 

Brian Keane, PhD

Interests: schizophrenia, visual perception, behavioral psychophysics, vision, schizophrenia, fMRI, psychophysics

 

Dr. Keane is an Assistant Professor of psychiatry.  His overarching aim is to understand the mechanisms underlying normal object perception and how these mechanisms become compromised during serious mental illness.  He approaches the topic by conducting behavioral and neuroimaging investigations on healthy individuals, persons with schizophrenia, and related clinical populations.  A major finding from his research is that abnormal visual perception flags the presence, stage, or symptoms of schizophrenia, yielding insight into how the illness emerges and how it changes the brain over time.

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E-mail: keanebp@ubhc.rutgers.edu

 

Anna Kline, PhD

Interests:  trauma, substance abuse, co-occurring disorders

 

Dr. Kline is an Associate Professor of psychiatry and her research interests focus on the intersection of trauma, mental illness and substance abuse, especially in military veterans.   Her research has included large-scale, epidemiological studies as well as clinical trials and demonstration projects exploring novel treatment interventions.  Studies have included an investigation of the mental health effects of military deployment among 3,000 New Jersey National Guard soldiers deployed to Iraq, an RCT testing a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for veterans at risk of suicide, and a demonstration project testing a case management intervention for homeless veterans with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders.  She has published papers on post-traumatic stress disorder, military suicide, co-occurring disorders and factors affecting treatment utilization and retention in at-risk populations.

E-mail:  kline.anna@gmail.com

 

Paul Lehrer, PhD

Interests: Biofeedback, Psychophysiology, Psychosomatics, Anxiety, Panic

 

Dr. Lehrer is a Professor of Psychiatry.  His research emphasis has been on process involved in cognitive behavior therapy and psychophysiological therapies, more than on specific disorders. His recent research has involved psychophysiological and cognitive behavioral interventions for treating asthma, somatization, and panic.  He also has studied the psychophysiological dynamics of heart rate variability and heart rate variability biofeedback in various disorders, and has evaluated cognitive behavior therapy for patients with multiple somatic symptom (somatization) disorder and comorbid asthma and panic disorder. Over the years he also has evaluated psychophysiological and behavioral approaches to a variety of other disorders, including major depression, general anxiety and stress, performance anxiety, headaches, and fibromyalgia.  He has a particular interest in looking at heart rate variability as a sign of resilience in these and other disorders, and the use of heart rate variability biofeedback to improve resilience.

E-mail: lehrer@rwjms.rutgers.edu

 

Paul Manowitz, PhD

Interests:  Biological Basis of Mental Illness

 

Dr. Paul Manowitz is a Professor of Psychiatry and is interested in the biochemistry and genetics of mental illness.  One of his main goals is the identification of genes that influence executive functioning in humans.  His research has identified a polymorphism of arylsulfatase A that occurs much more frequently in alcoholics than in normal control.  Tissue culture experiments have shown that this variant enzyme is mislocalized and much less metabolically stable compared with the normal, wild type enzyme.  In addition, he is studying cognitive endophenotypes related to schizophrenia that can be genetically analyzed.

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E-mail: manowitz@rwjms.rutgers.edu

 

Humberto Marin, MD

Interests:  clinical psychopharmacology, Huntington’s disease, mental aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders, culture and mental health, psychiatry in primary care.

 

Dr. Marin is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and has been involved in clinical psychopharmacology research and research in mental aspects of Parkinson’s disease with Dr. Matthew Menza; in cultural psychiatry research and research in somatization disorders with Dr. Javier Escobar; in research in Huntington’s disease, currently with the HD Society; and in research on psychiatric treatment in primary care settings, currently with the Camden Coalition.

E-mail: marinhu@ubhc.rutgers.edu

 

Matthew Menza, MD

Interests:  Parkinson’s disease, psychopharmacology, sleep, anxiety, depression

 

Dr. Menza is a Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology.  His research has focused on psychopharmacology and the non-motor aspects of Parkinson’s disease, including depression, anxiety and sleep.  He has done many psychopharmacologic trials in patients with depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.   He conducted the first NIH sponsored controlled trial of antidepressants in Parkinson’s disease as well as the first multi-site trial of sleep disorders in Parkinson’s disease.

E-mail: menza@rwjms.rutgers.edu

 

Sherrie Novotny, MD

Interests:  Autism

 

Dr. Novotny is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry.  Her research has focused on various aspects of autism and has included a variety of interventional trials.   These studies have been supported by the Department of Defense, NCCAM and NARSAD and the pharmaceutical industry.

E-mail: novotnsl@ubhc.rutgers.edu

   

Ted Petti, MD, MPH

Interests: Adolescence; Language disorders, non-suicidal self-injury; and communication disorders

 

Dr. Petti is a Professor of Psychiatry whose current research interests involve self-perceived communication ability in children and teens who are receiving psychiatric services. He is analyzing a large data set of inpatient and therapeutic day school older children and teens concerning their perceptions of communication skills and deficits. Non-suicidal self injury is another major area of concern, most specifically around the deliberate ingestion of foreign objects.  Coping mechanisms in children and adolescents is another of his interests.  He has a large data set of youth receiving services in either an adolescent medicine clinic or an acute child and adolescent in patient unit as well as a group of teens receiving services for sickle cell disease.

E-mail: pettita@ubhc.rutgers.edu

 

Rusty Reeves, MD

Interests:  forensics issues

 

Dr. Reeves is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and the Training Director of the Department of Psychiatry's forensic psychiatry fellowship.  He is also the Director of Psychiatry of Rutgers - University Correctional Health Care which provides the medical and mental health care to New Jersey's state prisoners.  Dr. Reeves' research focuses on the management and treatment of mental disorders in prisoners.  Dr. Reeves has published in textbooks and in peer-reviewed journals on, for example, involuntary medication in prisoners, and management of suicide risk among prisoners.

E-mail: reevesdo@ubhc.rutgers.edu

 

Dan Schneider, MD

Interests:  Conversion disorder (Functional Neurological Syndrome), Dementia, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease

 

Dr. Schneider is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology.  He is both a movement disorders specialist and a behavioral neurologist, and is interested in the research questions involving the psychiatric and cognitive manifestations of neurological disease.  He has run clinical trials involving Huntington’s disease and treatments of MCI in Parkinson's disease.  He also is engaging in a collaboration with one of the neuroscience labs at the Rutgers Newark campus to look at individual differences in learning deficits in Parkinson's disease, both before and after deep brain stimulation. Finally, he is interested in so-called functional or dissociative motor disorders and is currently working with our department of Physical and Occupational Therapy to create a program for treatment of these disorders.

E-mail: schneidp@rwjms.rutgers.edu

 

Steve Silverstein, PhD

Interests: schizophrenia, perception, cognition, retina

 

Dr. Steven Silverstein is Director of Research, and Director of the Division of Schizophrenia Research at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC), and Professor of Psychiatry at Rutgers - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He is the former Chair of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Serious Mental Illness, and an Executive Board member and President-Elect of the Society for Research in Psychopathology.  He has over 25 years of experience in treating people with schizophrenia, and has directed inpatient units and outpatient programs for this population.  This includes work with both chronic and first episode patients. Dr. Silverstein’s research interests are in the development of schizophrenia, perceptual and cognitive changes found in schizophrenia, and prediction of treatment response and relapse. He has over 185 publications related to schizophrenia, and is currently Principal Investigator (PI) on multiple NIMH and foundation grants involving assessment and treatment.

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E-mail: silvers1@ubhc.rutgers.edu

 

Marc Steinberg, PhD

Interests:  tobacco, motivational interviewing, task persistence

 

Dr. Steinberg conducts research on tobacco use and dependence, particularly in vulnerable populations such as those with mental illness and low socioeconomic status.  Dr. Steinberg is interested in psychosocial treatment development, proposed mediators of tobacco dependence treatment such as task persistence/ distress tolerance, and using motivational interviewing to encourage smokers to quit.  Dr. Steinberg is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers and is active in the Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco (SRNT).  He is currently Deputy Editor for the international peer reviewed journal, Nicotine & Tobacco Research.  Additional information on Dr. Steinberg's work can be found at the Tobacco Research & Intervention Lab website.

Email: marc.steinberg@rutgers.edu

 

Anthony Tobia, MD

Interests: innovative curriculum, popular culture, Psyfeld, REDRUM, FIDLER, psychosomatic medicine

 

Dr. Anthony Tobia is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry.  He is involved in quality improvement and scholarly projects with the psychiatry residents at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School as well as independent projects and independently designed electives for medical students; Capstone projects for Masters students at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; and Capstone projects for undergraduate students in the College of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rutgers University.  His interests include innovative curriculum development, use of popular culture to teach, and psychosomatic medicine.

Visit Wicked Knights

Visit RWJ Psych Fantasy Football League

TWITTER: @ATobiaMD and @Psyfeld

E-mail: tobiaat@rwjms.rutgers.edu

 

Adam Trenton, MD

Interests:  Psychosomatic medicine, sports psychiatry, medical education

 

Dr. Trenton is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry.  Dr. Trenton’s primary clinical and research interests are in Psychosomatic Medicine.  Some of his interests within the field include: physical manifestations of psychiatric illness, HIV psychiatry, and the provision of psychiatric care in the general medical hospital.  Dr. Trenton also has a strong interest in Sports Psychiatry and works in collaboration with the Rutgers Athletic Department to provide care to student athletes.  He is also interested in medical education, and enjoys teaching medical students and residents in didactic sessions and on hospital rounds.

E-mail: trentoaj@rwjms.rutgers.edu

 

Jill Williams, MD

Interests:   smoking, addiction, tobacco

 

Dr. Williams is a Professor of Psychiatry and conducts research on co-occurring mental illness and addictions, particularly studies of medication assisted treatments (MAT).  This includes clinical studies of smoking in people with mental illness or other addictions as well as studies of system change interventions that increase tobacco treatment in the behavioral health setting.  

E-mail: williajm@rwjms.rutgers.edu