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VISN 4 MIRECC Newsflash

Winter 2023


Year in Review

Happy New Year to all! As we embark on 2023, I would like to take a moment to look back at some of our Center’s achievements last year:

In fiscal-year 2022, our Center worked on 67 active VA IRB-approved research projects, with $4.9 million in on-mission external grant funding. We authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, delivered nearly 70 educational and clinical presentations, and supported 13 clinical demonstration projects.

Highlights this year included publication of the main outcomes of the Precision Medicine in Mental Health (PRIME) Care study, which found that pharmacogenomic testing can be helpful in antidepressant prescribing and was recently listed among 2022’s ten most significant advances in genomic medicine in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

We hosted a virtual conference on Measurement-Based Care in Mental Health attended by more than 1,100 VA employees across the nation, providing opportunities for interactive discussions in small groups organized by clinical roles.

We welcomed three new postdoctoral fellows, and five of our fellowship alumni are currently working on Career Development Award projects.

We are proud to celebrate these and many other achievements, and we look forward to another productive year ahead!

David Oslin, M.D.

Director, VISN 4 MIRECC


Sarah Griffin, Ph.D.

Dr. Griffin is interested in sleep, pain, and social relationships as they pertain to aging. She will also be serving as a liaison between our MIRECC and the VA Office of Research and Development. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Dr. Griffin earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She completed her clinical internship at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Durham VA.


Gabriela Khazanov, Ph.D. of the Philadelphia Center of Excellence in Substance Addiction Treatment and Education (CESATE) coauthored an article in Modern Healthcare about evidence-based solutions that could be implemented to improve Americans’ mental health. (October) Her research on the role anhedonia in depression treatment engagement was featured in an article in Psychology Today about ways to bring pleasure back to one’s life. (December)

Dr. Khazanov also cowrote an article with James McKay, Ph.D. that was published by the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and Psychology Today about the impact of financial incentives on patient engagement. (September/December)

Findings of a Million Veteran Program genome-wide association study (GWAS) of opioid use disorder, which were published in September in Nature Neuroscience by Rachel Kember, Ph.D., Emily Hartwell, Ph.D., Kyle Kampman, M.D., and Henry Kranzler, M.D. and colleagues were highlighted in Benchmarks: Preclinical and Discovery Science at Penn Medicine. (October) The findings were also highlighted in a news brief on the website of the VA Office of Research and Development. (November)

Dr. Kranzler spoke to Newsweek about the effects of heavy drinking on the brain. (December)

Philip Gehrman, Ph.D., joined WHYY’s Radio Times to discuss the science of sleep and its link to health and mental wellbeing. (October) He spoke to Philadelphia Magazine’s BeWellPhilly about tips for baseball fans needing to recover from lost sleep during the World Series, to KYW Newsradio about the health effects of shifting between daylight saving time to standard time, and to TIME about how to become a morning person. (November) He also spoke to Inverse about the accuracy and potential of consumer wearable devices in measuring sleep quality and to NPR about why people sometimes tend to wake up just before their alarm sounds. (December)

A Million Veteran Program genome-wide association study (GWAS) on which David Oslin, M.D. is a coauthor, identified genes linked to suicidal thoughts or actions. The findings were reported by HealthDay, GenomeWeb, UPI, the New York Post, and Medscape.


Registration Open: Lifestyle Interventions to Promote Brain Health in Neuropsychiatric Disorders

The Philadelphia Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education & Clinical Center (PADRECC) and the VISN 4 MIRECC are co-hosting this symposium-webinar March 22, 2023, 11:00am – 3:00pm ET. Click here for details and to register [VA intranet only].

Save the Date: Incorporating Pharmacogenomics into Your Clinical Mental Health Practice

The VISN 4 MIRECC is sponsoring this webinar on the afternoon (ET) of April 12, 2023. Registration details to follow.


Kember RL, Hartwell EE, Xu H, Rotenberg J, Almasy L, Zhou H, Gelernter J, Kranzler HR. Phenome-wide association analysis of substance use disorders in a deeply phenotyped sample. Biological Psychiatry. In press. [link]

Forster SE, Gancz NN, Gaither ML, Haas GL, Starver KD, Steinhauer SR. Barriers to long-acting injectable antipsychotic adherence during the COVID-19 pandemic: Observations from one site. Journal of Psychiatric Practice. November 2022. [link]

Fivecoat HC, Lookatch SJ, Mavandadi S, McKay JR, Sayers SL. Social factors predict treatment engagement in Veterans with PTSD or SUD. Journal of Behavioral Health Services Research. December 2022. [link]

Bachrach RL, Zhou A, Kumar L, Lyons G, Skrzynski CJ, Creswell KG. Indirect effects of personality on high-intensity drinking: The role of drinking motives. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. December 2022. [link]

Scott JC, Moore TM, Roalf DR, Satterhwaite TD, Wolf DH, Port AM, Butler ER, Ruparel K, Nievergelt CM, Risbrough VB, Baker DG, Gur RE, Gur RC. Development and application of novel performance validity metrics for computerized neurocognitive batteries. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. December 2022. [link]

Jenkins AK, Lewis DA, Volk DW. Altered expression of microglial markers of phagocytosis in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research. December 2022. [link]

Kuhn E, Sayers SL, Babusci C, Conroy C, Erbes CR. Internet-based family training with telephone coaching to promote mental health treatment initiation among Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: a pilot study. Journal of Traumatic Stress. December 2022. [link]

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David W. Oslin, M.D.
Director, VISN 4 MIRECC
Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center