AUGUST 23, 2017


Treatment Targets, Target Engagement, and Target Populations in Mental Health Services Research to Improve Public Health: Examples from the Field

Clinical trial research can garner compelling evidence of an intervention’s effect.  Design considerations like prospective assignment, choice of comparison group(s), blinding, generalizability of sample, sampling frame, and the setting where the trial is conducted, all help determine whether the primary research question is about efficacy (could the intervention work under ideal situations) or effectiveness (does it work in under real-world constraints).  However, these considerations do not necessarily provide insights into why an intervention works--or does not work.  In this webinar, NIMH program officers will present a brief overview of the experimental therapeutics paradigm, which provides a framework to understand targets and mechanisms of action for all NIMH-funded clinical trial research, including mental health services research.  Drs. Mary McKay and Mary Acri will then discuss two of their ongoing and high priority NIMH-funded research studies in the context of the experimental therapeutic paradigm:  1) Family Groups for Urban Youth with Disruptive Behavior (R01) and 2) African Regional Research Partnerships for Scaling Up Child Mental Health EBPs (U19). 




Photo of Dr. Michael C. Freed

Michael C. Freed, Ph.D., EMT-B
Chief, Services Research and Clinical Epidemiology Branch
Division of Services Intervention Research
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Dr. Michael Freed is the NIMH Services Research and Clinical Epidemiology Branch Chief.  Under his guidance, the branch helps set institute research priorities, develops funding initiatives, and administers a public health-oriented research portfolio to increase access, continuity, quality, equity, efficiency, and value of mental health services to those in need.  The branch also manages the dissemination and implementation research portfolio for the Institute.  Dr. Freed joined NIMH from the Department of Defense, where, as the research director of an interdisciplinary team of researchers, clinicians, and support staff, he worked to transform behavioral health care across the military health system.  He served in principal and co-investigator roles on several key epidemiological and health services research studies, as well as clinical trials. He also assisted with research priority setting and helped design a system to expedite the translation of findings from research to practice.  For nearly 15 years, his research aimed to improve healthcare services for service members, veterans, and their families.  Dr. Freed brings this passion and experience to NIMH.  Dr. Freed is a licensed and practicing psychologist, holds academic appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and has been recognized by both the Department of Defense and NIMH for significant achievement.


Photo of Dr. Denise Pintello

Denise Pintello, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Chief, Child and Adolescent Services
Acting Chief, Dissemination and
Implementation Research Program
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Dr. Denise Pintello currently serves as the Chief of the Child and Adolescent Services Research Program and also as the Acting Chief of the Dissemination and Implementation Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Before coming to NIMH, she served as the Special Assistant for the Director and the Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and for 11 years, oversaw the implementation of innovative scientific initiatives and special research dissemination projects.  As a social worker for more than two decades, Dr. Pintello worked extensively in child welfare, mental health and substance abuse and provided clinical, case management and supervisory services to over 1500 children and adults.  She has also conducted research studies within the fields of child welfare, domestic violence, juvenile justice, mental health and substance abuse.  Dr. Pintello’s publications have focused on the clinical treatment of intrafamilial child sexual abuse, behavioral factors associated with post-traumatic stress in women, predictors of child maltreatment recurrence, health services research and research dissemination.


Photo of Dr. Mary Acri

Mary C. Acri, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
New York University


Dr. Mary Acri is a mental health services researcher with a background in clinical social work whose research interests center on developing and testing interventions to enhance the detection and treatment of mental health problems among children and their caregivers. Dr. Acri is currently the Principal Investigator of a quality improvement project funded by the Annie E Casey Foundation to enhance the skills of peers working with caregivers at risk for depression who are involved in the child welfare system. This project builds off of her prior work, as Principal Investigator, of a NIMH-funded R21 grant entitled Examining the Implementation of a Peer-Delivered Intervention for Depression, which aimed to facilitate the detection and treatment of mothers at risk for depression who were seeking services at Family Resource Centers across New York City. She is also Co-Investigator of Family Groups for Urban Youth with Disruptive Behaviors, a multi-year project that aims to test the impact of a multiple family group intervention for children with disruptive behaviors. She currently holds the titles of Senior Research Scientist at the McSilver Institute for Policy, Poverty, and Research, Research Assistant Professor at New York University School of Medicine’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Faculty within The Center for Implementation and Dissemination Science in States for Children and is an adjunct faculty member at The Silver School of Social Work at New York University, where she has taught Research Methods I and II, and Clinical Practice I and II. Dr. Acri earned her degree from NYU.


Photo of Dr. Mary McKay

Mary M. McKay, Ph.D.
Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean
Washington University in St. Louis

Mary M. McKay joined the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis as dean in 2016, continuing the School’s legacy of creating vital knowledge, initiating social change, and preparing leaders to address social and health challenges both locally and globally. She was installed as the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School in January 2017. Dean McKay’s academic experience connects deeply to both social work and public health. She has received substantial federal funding for research focused on meeting the mental health and health prevention needs of youth and families impacted by poverty. She also has significant expertise in child mental health services and implementation research methods, as well as over 20 years of experience conducting HIV prevention and care-oriented studies, supported by the National Institutes of Health. She has authored more than 150 publications on mental and behavioral health, HIV/AIDS prevention and urban poverty, and more. Prior to joining the Brown School, Dean McKay was the McSilver Professor of Social Work and the inaugural director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University's Silver School of Social Work. She previously served as the head of the Division of Mental Health Services Research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her prior academic appointments include Columbia University and University of Illinois at Chicago.


Photo of Ozge Sensoy Bahar

Ozge Sensoy Bahar, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor

Washington University in St. Louis

Ozge Sensoy Bahar is a Research Assistant Professor at the Brown School. Her research focuses on child and family well-being in global contexts characterized by poverty and associated stressors. Specifically, her dissertation project utilized ethnographic methods to examine the interrelatedness of poverty, migration and marginalization, and the consequences (such as child labor) for children and families in a poverty-impacted ethnic community in Turkey. Her current research program focuses on youth experiences of child work and labor, as well as the individual, family, and contextual factors leading to child labor in two country contexts, Turkey and Ghana. The goal of her work is to develop culturally and contextually-relevant interventions to reduce risk factors associated with child labor. Additionally, Sensoy Bahar serves as the lead to the SMART Africa Center. Funded by NIMH, SMART Africa aims to advance child behavioral health services and implementation science capacity across three countries in Africa, including Uganda, Ghana and Kenya. Sensoy Bahar recently completed a three year, externally funded post-doctoral fellowship at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University Silver School of Social Work.