Research

Research for a changing world

Exploring new theories and processes are an integral part of graduate education, especially in the sciences. Our students participate in groundbreaking research with faculty members seeking to broaden our understanding of the mind and how it works.  

  • Thanks to the incredible energy and creativity of faculty, staff and volunteers, VCU is proud to announce that the Department of Psychiatry is highly ranked among the nation’s almost 150 psychiatry departments in receipt of funding from the National Institutes of Health. According to recently released rankings by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, VCU Psychiatry is ranked 19 and joins a league of peers including Columbia University, Yale University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, and UNC Chapel Hill who, along with the others on the list, are collectively leading the country forward in psychiatric research.

    “In psychiatry, we have excellent clinical outcomes. Nevertheless, we must advance our understanding of brain function and brain-environmental interactions to better understand and treat mental illness. Research leads us to a better understanding of what we treat, and this milestone in funding speaks to how critical the work is that we do at VCU,” said Joel J. Silverman, MD, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry. “Our team of researchers is among the best in the country, and NIH’s funding in 2018 demonstrates that importance.”

    In addition to being ranked (2019) 19th in NIH funding, we are also ranked 25th in NIDA support and 4th in support from NIAA. 

  • Research is a critical component of our work as an academic Department of Psychiatry.  Important work is being accomplished to understand the genetic bases of mental illness.  Our scientists have identified, for the first time in history, genetic locations for major depression and anxiety disorders. 

  • We have a 3T fMRI in our Addictions Division where important studies are conducted.  We are involved in a ten year multicenter study evaluating brain function in normal children as they mature and especially studying how substance use/abuse and other life events effects brain development.

  • The VCU psychiatry department has overseen more than 100 clinical trials in innovative treatments for depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, and children's mental disorders. We were one of the sites for the Sequenced Alternatives to Treat Depression (STAR*D) Project, the largest depression trial ever funded by the National Institutes of Health.

  • Our international connections include projects like genetic research in the People’s Republic of China; cooperative studies in Finland with researchers in Oxford, England; and strategic partnerships with the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India.
  • We encourage new thinking, such as the first academic Human-Animal Bond program in United States. Established in 2001, the Center for Human-Animal Interaction  promotes interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research, clinical practice, and educational activities related to the human-animal relationship.