Recently Completed and Current Studies

Targeting Stress Reactivity in Schizophrenia: Integrating Coping Awareness Therapy (I-CAT)
PI: Piper Meyer, Ph.D., David Penn, Ph.D. and Diana Perkins, M.D.
Funded by: NIMH

The purpose of this study is to develop and then subsequently evaluated a mindfulness/positive therapy intervention for individuals with first episode psychosis.  Following a manual development period, an open trial of six clients was conducted, which has lead to a small-scale RCT (n=40). We are currently in the recruitment and assessment phase of this trial which has an expected completion date of 2019.

Enhancing Recovery for Individuals with First Episode Psychosis: The Horyzons Project
PIs: David Penn, Ph.D., Mario Alvarez, Ph.D. and John Gleeson, Ph.D.
Funded by: Unrestricted gift from Australian Catholic University to UNC

The purpose of this study is to test the feasibility and preliminary benefits of an innovative online behavioral intervention, Horyzons, for individuals with first episode psychosis in the United States. The research is being conducted in collaboration with Drs. Alvarez and Gleeson at Orygen and ACU.

Other articles about Horyzons can be found here.

Physical Activity Can Enhance Life (PACE-Life)
PI: Julia Browne, MA
Funded by: David Penn, Ph.D (Faculty Supervisor)

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of a combination group and home-based exercise program for individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The protocol includes walking groups and continuous Fitbit usage (to track steps and heart rate) to promote consistent walking at moderate intensity. We have completed the first cohort (n=16) as of December 2016 and completion of the second cohort has wrapped up as of Summer 2018. We hope to continue to this research as a full scale randomized controlled trial in 2018- 2019.

The pilot trial of this study can be found here.

Social Cognition Psychometric Evaluation (SCOPE)
PI: Philip Harvey, Ph.D., David Penn, Ph.D. and Amy Pinkham, Ph.D.
Funded by: NIMH

The purpose of this study is to examine the current psychometric properties of the selected social cognition measures for individuals with schizophrenia. A sub-study of SCOPE which was conducted in the Penn lab, Evaluation of Social Cognition Assessment in Early Psychosis (ESCAEP), focused on social cognition in individuals with first episode psychosis. (Completed in 2017).

Click here to learn more about the initial phase of SCOPE

Click here to learn more about the final phase of SCOPE

Social Cognition and Functioning (SCAF)
PI:Michael Green, Ph.D.; Site PI: David Penn, Ph.D.
Funded by: NIMH

The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which selected measures from social neuroscience would be suitable for use in clinical trials of schizophrenia. The study looked at whether these measures can account for unexplained variance in functioning and hoped to better understand the ways in which social cognition acts as a mediator between basic (non-social) cognition and functioning in schizophrenia. (Completed in 2015).

Recovery After an Initital Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) 
PI: John Kane, M.D., UNC Site PI: David Penn, Ph.D.
Funded by: NIMH

RAISE was a multi-site randomized clinical trial, funded by National Institute of Mental Health, to evaluate the benefits of two years of a comprehensive pharmacological and psychosocial treatment package (the RAISE Enhanced Treatment Program) for individuals  with first episode psychosis compared to usual community mental health treatment (community care). Dr. David Penn is noted as the lead author of the Individual Resiliency Training (IRT) manual along with Dr. Piper Meyer-Kalos and Dr. Jennifer Gottlieb. The IRT manual was used in conjunction with the NAVIGATE program as a modular-based intervention for individuals with first-episode psychosis. (Completed in 2015).

The director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Thomas Insel, released his top 10 list of notable achievements in 2014.  RAISE leads the group and was commended for bridging the gap between research and practice.  To view the entirety of Dr. Insel’s review, please follow this link.

Click here to learn more about RAISE