Research + Clinical Trials

Research projects within the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center focus on topics such as systems of care in psychiatry and child psychiatry, psychopharmacology in the foster care system, employer-based depression care, neuropsychology, bipolar disorder, psychiatric and medical illness and inflammatory processes in psychiatric disorders.

Clinical Research Projects

Be Well at Work

The goal of this current study is to further develop and disseminate an innovative program, the Be Well at Work (BWAW) initiative, a multi-modal, work-focused intervention program to reduce psychological stress and its adverse impact on ability to function at work in middle-aged and older workers. This project is a natural extension of our on-going long-term collaborative work to move from a focus on symptoms to one of functioning, and from the health care arena into the workplace where middle-aged and older workers spend the most significant amount of their time.

David Adler, MD

Markers to Predict Interferon-Alpha-Associated Depression

Depression is very often a side effect of interferon (IFN)-alpha treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. It is important to predict the risk of development of IFN-alpha-associated depression. We have previously found that serum tryptophan (precursor of serotonin) levels and variation of normal structure of gene that facilitates the shift of tryptophan metabolism from formation of serotonin toward production of kynurenines, are the two markers associated with the high risk of development of depression during IFN-alpha treatment of HCV patients. Disturbances of tryptophan metabolism (besides depression) might trigger insulin resistance (IR). IR is a predecessor of diabetes type 2, obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension. IR is four times more often among HCV patients. We are currently studying mechanisms of tryptophan involvement in the development of IR in HCV.

Gregory Oxenkrug, MD

Safety and Efficacy Study of Ramelteon Tablets in Adults with Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a disabling and chronic illness that affects approximately 1% of the population. It is characterized by periods of mood elevation (mania), depression, or both. The purpose of this study is to determine if individuals who take the study drug, TAK-375SL, also known as ramelteon, once a day at bedtime, will experience a decrease in the symptoms of depression-associated with bipolar I disorder. This is a multi-site study sponsored by Takeda Global Research & Development Center Inc., and we are enrolling subjects at Tufts Medical Center in the Mood Disorders Program. Participation in this study will last for up to 14 weeks with about 8 visits to Tufts Medical Center.

Nassir Ghaemi, MD

Basic Research Projects

Insulin resistance (IR) is one of the mechanisms of aging and aging-associated disorders (diabetes type 2, obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension). We are studying the mechanisms of tryptophan involvement in aging in a Drosophila (fruit fly) model. We have found that genetically and pharmacologically induced inhibition of tryptophan conversion into kynurenines prolongs life span in flies. We are currently interested to find out whether the same mechanisms might be involved in conditions associated with developmental (pre-pubertal) stages of life cycle.

Gregory Oxenkrug, MD