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Combining Research and Clinical Careers

Posted on August 14, 2009

Pursuing synergistic research and clinical work took time, recalls David A. Axelson (bio).


As I was finishing up my post doctoral fellowship, Dr. Kupfer and Dr. Frank had actually come to my mentor, Boris Birmaher, and had mentioned that a lot of their adult folks in their program were mentioning that their children were having a lot of problems that they recalled seemed to be similar to them when they were kids and were worried about whether their children had bipolar disorder.

So with some generosity from the Stanley Foundation, a little bit of pilot money that they were able to give us and Dr. Birmaher and I sort of working in our free time, we started the program and was able to hire a part-time nurse and a receptionist. And from there, we just sort of gradually built the program.

After I finished my post-doc, then I took over the day to day to running of the clinic and that's been for the past eight or nine years. So it's kind of gradually built over time, and it's been very helpful for a multitude of different research projects that we've done.

I mean, both sort of longitudinal follow up studies, we collaborated with some other folks to do some imaging studies. There's been some treatment trials where we've actually sort of formally had folks assigned to one treatment or the other. We had a large medication trial that we worked with the NIMH with a multi-site study, collaborated with folks to do some psychosocial intervention trials, as well. So it's kind of been helpful in a number of different ways.

The other nice thing is that some of these folks when they finish the treatment trial, then we're able to bring them into the clinic and provide sort of ongoing treatment with their original treatment team or at least with the same doctor that they had in the study. So that's been kind of nice, too. And people are more willing to sort of say, "Okay, I'll provide space in the study if I know that this group of folks is going to take care of me afterwards, as well." So, that's facilitated recruitment in some ways, kind of a win-win situation for everybody.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2009 Career Development Institute for Bipolar Disorder in Pittsburgh, PA.


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