OPAL Center Team Members
Dr. Stroup is principal investigator of the OPAL Center. He is leader of the Administrative Core and co-leader of Project 3. He was the director and principal investigator of the NIMH-sponsored Schizophrenia Trials Network (STN) and co-PI of the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) schizophrenia trial. He is PI of a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) study that is investigating the effectiveness of adjunctive treatments for schizophrenia and co-PI of an NIMH-sponsored, multi-site RCT that is evaluating the efficacy of aerobic exercise to improve cognitive functioning in schizophrenia. Other studies of treatments for schizophrenia have addressed weight and metabolic problems, cognitive impairments, and the comparative effectiveness long-acting injectable antipsychotic medications.
Dr. Stroup will also lead the OPAL Center’s training efforts. His experience in training includes his role as Training Director for Columbia’s T32 post-doctoral research fellowship “Training in Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders: From animal models to patients” and as director of the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) Policy Scholars Program in the Division of Behavioral Health Services and Policy Research. The Policy Scholars program supports and provides mentorship to early-stage researchers to conduct policy-oriented projects that are relevant to OMH’s mission.
Lisa Dixon, MD, MPH
Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center
Research Psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute
Director, Division of Behavioral Health Services and Policy Research & Center for Practice Innovations
Dr. Dixon is the Chair of the OPAL Scientific Steering Committee. She is Chief of the Division of Behavioral Health Services and Policy Research and within that leads Center for Practice Innovations (CPI). CPI is charged with assisting OMH in the implementation of evidence-based practices across the state including Assertive Community Treatment, Individual Placement and Support and Suicide Prevention. She also directs New York State’s early psychosis program, OnTrackNY, which is being disseminated across the state. Dr. Dixon is co-PI of OnTrackChile R01 which aims to address the shortfall in evidence-based treatments for people with first episode psychosis (FEP) in Chile. She is also the co-PI with Jennifer Humensky of the 5-year R01 project, EPINET regional network, OnTrackNY's Learning Healthcare System. EPINET stands for Early Psychosis Intervention Network. She is the editor-in-chief of Psychiatric Services and has experience as a psychiatry residency training director and IRB chair.
Dr. Wall co-leads the Methods Core and its Quantitative Unit. She is a biostatistician with a sustained record of focused, innovative data analysis methods research in the areas of latent variable modeling, spatial, and longitudinal data analysis. Dr. Wall’s unique expertise in the areas of factor analysis, latent class models, structural equation modeling as well as spatial data modeling have led to many fruitful collaborations with health researchers. Dr. Wall has served as Director of the Biostatistics Division at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene (NYSPI/RFMH) for seven years. Under her leadership, the Division has provided statistical support to over 100 psychiatric senior researchers and fellows on numerous NIMH/NIDA/NIAAA and private foundation grants. The OPAL Quantitative Unit taps into the expertise of the NYSPI/RFMH Mental Health Data Science as well as the co-located Department of Biostatistics in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Division to provide collaborative support for each OPAL project on design issues, developing machine learning precision medicine models, data analysis and reporting and manuscript preparation.
Dr. Cabassa co-leads the Methods Core and its Qualitative Unit. His work blends quantitative and qualitative methods, implementation science, intervention research and community engagement to inform the adaptation and implementation of health interventions in routine practice settings to improve the health of racial and ethnic minorities with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses (SMI). He has expertise conducting and leading qualitative studies using semi-structured qualitative interviews and focus group methodologies and using collaborative approaches to inform the adaptation and implementation of health and mental health interventions in routine practice settings.
Alice Medalia, PhD
Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University Medical Center
Clinical Director, NY State OMH Cognitive Health Services
Director, Psychiatric Rehabilitation in the Division of Behavioral Health Services and Policy Research at the New York State Psychiatric Institute
Dr. Medalia is the leader of OPAL Project 1, which concerns optimization of treatments for the cognitive dysfunction that is associated with schizophrenia. Dr. Medalia has been instrumental in raising awareness about the need to address cognition as a central aspect of health related to functional outcome. She is a researcher, prolific author and the recipient of numerous awards. Dr. Medalia brought the concept of Cognitive Health to the field of Psychiatry. Traditionally cognitive health has been seen as relevant only to older individuals, but Dr. Medalia has advocated that it be considered a central aspect of health for all individuals. Dr. Medalia was the first person to identify the role of intrinsic motivation in neuroplasticity based cognitive training for people with psychiatric disorders. She developed the widely used Neuropsychological & Educational Approach to Remediation (NEAR) model of cognitive remediation, which has been disseminated worldwide. She is a member of the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons Academy of Clinical Excellence and the founding director of the Lieber Recovery and Rehabilitation Clinic, a comprehensive psychiatric rehabilitation program for individuals with persistent mental illness.
Dr. Smith is the leader of OPAL Project 2. He is Associate Medical Director, NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH), Medical Director of NYS OMH's Division of Managed Care, and Special Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. Dr. Smith is the recipient of numerous awards including the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) Young Investigator Award, the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation Award, and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Academic Career Award. He has received NIMH and foundation funding for research on the factors that contribute to recovery and successful independent living for individuals with chronic mental illness.
Elizabeth K Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Law and Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center
Research Psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute
Dr. Olfson is co-investigator of Project 2. He currently directs several studies on the delivery of mental health services in community settings with an emphasis on the pharmacoepidemiology of psychotic and mood disorders. His research interests focus on national patterns and trends in the utilization of mental health services and quality of care. In this project, he works with Dr. Smith to adopt the Critical Time Intervention (CTI) model for the study and provides insight into the implications of services and policy relevance.
David Kimhy, PhD
Associate Professor & Program Leader in New Interventions in Schizophrenia
Director, Experimental Psychopathology Lab, Department of Psychiatry
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Dr. Kimhy is co-leader of Project 3 and leader of Health Technology and Clinical Assessment Units. He pioneered the use of mobile technologies in studying individuals with schizophrenia, having published the first study validating the use of such technologies in this population. He has 15 years of experience developing and leading studies utilizing mobile technologies to assess symptoms and functioning in individuals with schizophrenia, including among hospitalized patients and individuals living in the community. Dr. Kimhy’s work has been supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, and industry. He is currently leading a multi-site NIMH-funded R01 (Co-PI with Dr. Stroup) examining the efficacy of using aerobic exercise via active play video games to improve cognitive functioning in people with schizophrenia.
Dr. Strauss serves as senior advisor to the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he co-leads an initiative to promote diversity in clinical trials. Dr. Strauss consults to the ethics unit of a NIMH funded center grant “optimizing treatment for persons with schizophrenia across the lifespan” and serves on its scientific steering committee. He is a member of Bioethics Advisor Group at Takeda Pharmaceuticals and special lecturer at Columbia University. Prior to joining the staff at Austen Riggs, Dr. Strauss was associate professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. He served a series of leadership positions there and at the NYS Psychiatric Institute including vice chair, director of research operations, IRB chair, clinical director, and chief of the schizophrenia research unit. Dr. Strauss is an officer of the board of directors of Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research, the national IRB professional organization. Dr. Strauss practices psychotherapy and psychopharmacology in NYC, and teaches, lectures, and consults on matters of applied research and professional ethics.
Dr. McGuire is leader of the Health Economics Unit. His research focuses on the design and impact of health care payment systems, the economics of health care disparities, and the economics of mental health policy and drug regulation and payment. Dr. McGuire has also contributed to the theory of physician, hospital, and health plan payment. His research on health care disparities includes developing approaches to defining and measuring disparities, and studying the theory and measurement of provider discrimination. For more than 35 years, Dr. McGuire has conducted academic and policy research on the economics of mental health. His research on drug regulation focuses on brand-generic competition. In OPAL, he oversees analytic strategies for estimating costs to payers.
Dr. Humensky is a member of the Health Economics Unit. She has a PhD in Public Policy (focus: mental health economics), she is also co-Principal Investigator (with Lisa Dixon) of the 5-year project, EPINET regional network, OnTrackNY's Learning Healthcare System. EPINET stands for Early Psychosis Intervention Network. She recently completed an NIMH K01 award in which she is examining delivery of supported education and employment services in Collaborative Specialty Care (CSC) programs for individuals with first-episode psychosis. Previously, she led a team that developed an interactive tool to enable programs to estimate the needs and costs for CSC programs. She works with Dr. McGuire to examine costs and their implications.
Dr. Stefancic is a member of the Qualitative Unit. She brings more than 10 years of research experience examining and evaluating supportive housing services for people with SMI. She served as the Director of Research at Pathways to Housing from 2005 to 2014 and has been a co-investigator and lead evaluator on numerous federally funded grants from SAMHSA, NIDDR, and AHRQ. Her research and scholarship focuses on examining community integration of adults with SMI, developing and testing fidelity measures of the Housing First model (a SAMHSA-recognized evidence-based practice), evaluating the effectiveness of introducing Housing First and Assertive Community Treatment in rural areas in Vermont, and examining health and health care disparities among people with psychiatric disabilities. She has extensive expertise on qualitative methods, mixed methodologies, fidelity monitoring, mental health services research, and intervention research. Dr. Stefancic trains and supervises the interviewers who conduct the qualitative interviews in each of the research projects. She works with Dr. Cabassa to supervise coding, analyses, and the interpretation of qualitative results.
Dr. Qian is a member of the Quantitative Unit. Her primary research interest is in the area of medical decision making, where the goal is to develop individualized treatment policies that specify which type and/or intensity of treatment should be offered over time. She contributes expertise in adaptive clinical trial designs and quantitative data analysis. She is the statistician for Project 1.
Mr. Buchsbaum is a member of the Quantitative Unit. He has developed an approach to research data management that integrates multiple technologies (websites, desktop applications, telephone systems, wireless connectivity, centralized data storage, etc.) to address the full spectrum of research data needs. Mr. Buchsbaum has 24 years of experience in data management and 18 years of experience developing research databases for health-related studies including service interventions. He collaborates with Dr. Wall regarding data management issues.
Dr. Radigan is a member of the Quantitative Unit. She specializes in health services research utilizing large data sets and in the development of evaluation research studies whose focus is the enhancement of mental health services for children and families in NYS. She provides access to data that will be used by the Health Economics Unit to model longer term service use outcomes and treatment costs for all OPAL projects.
Dr. Saperstein is a co-investigator of Project 1. She conducts clinical research on cognitive remediation for adults with serious and persistent mental illness with a focus on empirically-based methods of service delivery in public psychiatry settings. She has collaborated on intervention development, facilitated research partnerships with community-based services, and provided training and supervision on cognitive, psychological and functional outcomes assessment, as well as on the implementation of cognitive remediation for NIMH-funded clinical trials. Dr. Saperstein has directed and consulted for cognitive health programs in New York City.
Dr. Marino is a co-investigator of Project 2. She is a board certified adult psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of mood, anxiety and substance use disorders. Her research focuses on improving access to evidence-based treatments for co-occurring disorders. In this project, she acts as a project manager and supports the implementation of the Critical Time Intervention (CTI) model.
Dr. Herman is a co-investigator of Project 2. In this project, Dr. Herman works closely with Dr. Smith and partners to adapt and refine the CTI model for use in the current study and develop appropriate training for study personnel who will be delivering the adapted intervention. He will help develop, implement and interpret fidelity assessment procedures appropriate to the adapted intervention model. He will collaborate on analysis and interpretation of study processes and outcomes and contributes to publications emerging from the study.
Dr. Beane is a co-investigator of Project 2. She collaborates closely with the study leadership team to refine the CTI model for the unique partnership of managed care, hospitals, and PCPs. She makes recommendations regarding the sustainability of the models in the evolving value-based healthcare system. She supervises the analyst team that conducts the data extractions and aggregations for the project.
Dr. Shaffer is a co-investigator of Project 2. He works with study leadership to refine the CTI model for the specific Healthfirst population that is enrolled in the study. He also makes recommendations regarding the sustainability of the models in the evolving healthcare system that prioritizes the integration of behavioral health and primary care.