Research Track

Research residents will have special didactic programming in PGY-1, and a 2 month block of available time during PGY-2, in which to organize and pursue a research focus. During PGY 3 and 4, research residents may pursue either a “block” or “longitudinal” model of research time. The block model would provide 3 months for research in PGY-3, 3 months full-time in PGY-4, plus an additional 15 hours/week for the final half of PGY-4. The longitudinal model would provide 10 hours/week for research throughout PGY-3, 15 hours/week for half of PGY-4, and 20 hours/week for the remainder of PGY-4.


Opportunities for ongoing research include the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, the Division of Addictions Psychiatry, the Division of Consultation/Liaison Psychiatry, the VCU Mood Disorders Institute, and the Commonwealth Institute for Child and Family Studies. Other areas of focus may be arranged throughout the Department and its affiliates.

Three research tracks are currently available:
Clinical Researcher

This team brings together the extensive resources of the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System to specialize in the evaluation and treatment of patients with psychiatric disorders with complex combinations of medical and psychiatric illnesses. Referral Reasons:

  • Patients with neurobehavioral syndromes
  • Sleep disorders
  • Mood disorders or psychoses in the medically ill
  • Illnesses requiring psychotropic medications where concurrent medical illness requires caution, special treatment, or monitoring
Translational Research

This training program would provide the physician with a foundation of knowledge in general psychiatry and an additional in-depth understanding of clinical epidemiology, genetic epidemiology, pharmacology and a variety of clinical neurosciences. During PGY-1, planning could begin for acquiring a “T32 Grant” starting in the PG-4 year. An internally funded PGY 5-7 research fellowship may also be available. Continuing in a post-residency fellowship would be an expectation, with pilot data from an independent project to be produced during that year. The translational research track would continue with a “K award” and an independent research project in year 6.

MD/PhD Psychiatry Track

This program will be available for combined MD/PhD graduates, or those with doctoral level training prior to medical school. The goal will be to graduate a trainee capable of functioning as an independent investigator. Trainees may be asked to seek NIH postdoctoral fellowship support for their PG-4 year and for a possible PG-5 fellowship year.

Other Research Opportunities

The Department of Psychiatry has a broad, diverse, and internationally recognized series of research programs, spanning many areas of modern psychiatry. These include basic behavioral science endeavors, outcome studies, and clinical projects with immediate applicability. Residents receive didactic instruction in research methods and design, and are welcome to participate in a wide variety of research projects, with faculty mentorship and support.


  • Ranked nationally in the top quartile of research funding for psychiatry departments
  • Major interdisciplinary programs with such departments as Human Genetics, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, Pharmacology, Neurology, and Psychology
  • Special institutes for psychiatric genetics, mood disorders, autism, women's health and child and family studies
  • More than 200 publications in major journals annually
  • Publication of several leading textbooks 
Research opportunities include:
Psychiatric Genetics Research Program

  • Extensive clinical field studies of psychiatric illness in Ireland, Sweden, New Zealand and Virginia
  • Statistical genetics expertise from structural equation modeling
  • Linkage analysis of complex traits
  • Molecular genetics research in new, high throughput genotyping and sequencing laboratory
  • First large-scale twin study of a range of psychiatric disorders (depression, alcoholism, anxiety, eating disorders).
  • Localization of potential susceptibility genes for schizophrenia on 6p, 8p, and 5p.
  • Principal Faculty
    • Sam Chen, Ph.D.
    • Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D.
    • Michael Neal, Ph.D.
    • Edwin van den Oord, Ph.D.
    • Roy Pickens, Ph.D.
    • Brien Riley, Ph.D.

Commonwealth Institute for Child & Family Studies


  • Special child/adolescent research facility funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Two nationally published journals based on-site
  • Multi-center study to investigate the safety and effectiveness of paroxetine in the treatment of children and adolescent outpatients with OCD
  • The safety and efficacy of risperidone vs. placebo in conduct disorders in mild, moderate and borderline mentally retarded children
  • Multi-center study to investigate the safety and efficacy of fluoxetine in children and adolescents with OCD
  • Principal Faculty
    • Michael Mason, Ph.D.
    • Janet Hill, M.S.
    • Julie Linker, Ph.D.
    • Bela Sood, M.D., Medical Director, Pediatric Psychopharmacology Research Unit
Division of Addiction Psychiatry

  • Chronic Pain and Addiction
  • HIV Research
  • Virginia Addictions Training Center
  • Physician Screening for Addiction Liability
  • Principal Faculty
    • Janet Knisely, Ph.D.
    • Gerald Moeller, M.D.
VCU Mood Disorders Institute

  • Multidisciplinary, conjoint program of VCU Health System's Psychiatry and VCU Psychology
  • National studies on psychopharmacology and psychotherapy of chronic depression and anxiety disorders
  • Susan G. Kornstein, M.D. (Medical Director): expert on gender issues in depression and pre-menstrual depression
Inpatient Psychiatry Research

  • Biological heterogeneity of schizophrenia
  • Phenomenology of schizophrenia
  • Psychopharmacology of schizophrenia
  • Psychopharmacology of bipolar disorder
  • Geriatric mental health in nursing homes
  • Animal assisted therapy
  • Brain imaging (MRI) in schizophrenia
  • Childhood relations of sexual abuse survivors
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Comorbidity of substance abuse and mental illness
  • Principal Faculty
    • Sandra Barker, Ph.D.
    • Anand Pandurangi, M.D.
Consultation/Liaison Research

  • Randomized controlled trial of psychiatric consultation in medical inpatients
  • Development of the "PACT" rating instrument, widely used in evaluating organ transplant candidates
  • Psychological aspects of living organ donation
  • Development of "Rate of Forgetting" test to distinguish geriatric depression from early dementia
  • Randomized controlled trial of "Garren Bubble" to treat obesity
  • First meta-analysis of behavioral treatments for insomnia
  • Development of brief cognitive test for delirium
  • Assessment of delirium in ICUs and in patients with traumatic brain injury
  • Assessment of chronic pain
  • Principal Faculty
    • James Culbert, Ph.D.
    • Robert Hart, Ph.D.
    • James L. Levenson, M.D.
    • Mary Ellen Olbrisch, Ph.D.
    • James Wade, Ph.D.