Optimizing and Personalizing interventions for people with schizophrenia Across the Lifespan (OPAL) ― an NIMH Center

OPAL logo

A vast gap separates the clinical research environments where evidence-based treatments for mental disorders are developed and tested from the real-world clinical practice environments where large-scale implementation of these interventions are delivered. Key contributors to this gap include limited access to and poor engagement in treatment and the unfortunate reality that the available treatments and services are often poorly matched to the needs and preferences of individual patients. 

OPAL Center

The target population for this ALACRITY Center is people diagnosed with schizophrenia, which typically affects individuals from adolescence or early adulthood until the end of life. Affected individuals commonly have impaired social and occupational functioning, experience persistent psychotic and mood symptoms, and are at risk for disability and premature death. Access to and engagement in established and effective treatments could ameliorate or even reverse these negative outcomes. We named this proposed center OPAL, after its goal of Optimizing and Personalizing interventions for people with schizophrenia Across the Lifespan. To address core problems in the treatment of schizophrenia, OPAL adapts and tests scalable interventions that are personalized to meet the needs of individuals. The goal of OPAL is to accelerate the development and implementation of effective, individualized treatments for schizophrenia in real clinical settings.

The specific aims of this Center are as follows:

  1. Create an infrastructure that supports research that tests innovative ways to optimize treatments for people with schizophrenia throughout the lifespan and that accelerates the translation of clinical research on schizophrenia to routine practice settings.
  2. Conduct exploratory and pilot projects that develop, adapt, and test innovative methods to personalize treatments for schizophrenia and to make them effective and readily deployable.
  3. Train scientists who will conduct translational research on services and treatments for persons with schizophrenia.

Initially, OPAL includes three developmental projects.  For a list of current projects, click here.

OPAL is a platform on which to develop, adapt, and examine interventions that address important issues in the treatment and delivery of services for schizophrenia using a multi-disciplinary approach. OPAL supports pilot studies that extend its scientific reach and take advantage of Center resources and synergies. The goal of the pilot program is to support research ideas that are consistent with OPAL’s goals and that have a high potential to obtain additional competitive funding for full-scale projects.

For our Call for Pilot Project Concepts, click here.