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iSPARC Symposium at UMass Chan Psychiatry Research Day

Date Posted: Tuesday, May 02, 2023

After a 5 year hiatus, the UMass Chan Dept. of Psychiatry held its Research Day on Thursday, April 27, 2023. Highlights from the event included:

  • Keynote presentation "Addiction Science: Update for Psychiatry" by Dr. Wilson Crompton, MPE, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  
  • Executive Director of the Lifeline for Families Center and Lifeline for Moms, an iSPARC research program, Dr. Nancy Byatt, DO, MS, MBA, FACLP, being awarded the Steven M. Banks Research Mentoring Award for Recognition of Outstanding Research Mentoring. 
  • iSPARC Symposium: "Innovations to Reduce Alcohol and Drug Use in Marginalized Populations" featuring presentations from our researchers in our Law & Psychiatry program, DeafYES Center, and Transitions to Adulthood Center for Research. (presentations below)
  • Addictions Symposium: "Centering Veteran Priorities in Recovery from Substance Use and Co-Occurring Disorders" featuring presentations from the VISN 1 Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), VA Bedford Healthcare Center.
  • Trainee and Junior Faculty “Ideas in Progress” Presentations featuring our postdoc fellow, Nana Yaa Marfo, PhD and Poster session featuring five iSPARC research studies. (below)


iSPARC Symposium Opening Remarks: Maryann Davis, PhD, iSPARC Center Director

Addiction & Racial Disparities Research in Criminal-Legal Settings: Gina Vincent, PhD, Co-Director iSPARC Law & Psychiatry, and Spencer Lawson, PhD

Abstract: The Law & Psychiatry Program’s Research Arm within iSPARC works with the systems that impact criminal-legal involved youth and adults to a) implement and study the outcomes of evidence-based practices, and b) improve the lives of these individuals while protecting public safety. Two critical issues in these systems are treatment of addiction and reduction of the extreme racial disparities in incarceration. This presentation will highlight our work in these two areas, both of which are focal points of our Center of Excellence for Specialty Courts. 

Leveraging Community Engagement to Address Alcohol Use Disorder Disparities in the Deaf Community: Melissa Anderson, PhD, Director DeafYES and Alex Wilkens, PhD

Abstract: Hearing individuals have access to dozens of validated treatments for alcohol use disorder, yet there are no evidence-based treatments to treat any behavioral health condition with Deaf clients. Available behavioral health treatments fail to meet Deaf clients’ unique language access needs. Leveraging extensive community engagement to address these barriers, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Wilkins have led teams of Deaf and hearing researchers, clinicians, filmmakers, actors, artists, and Deaf people in recovery to develop and evaluate innovative treatment adaptations that are uniquely and expertly tailored for Deaf signing people. This presentation will outline our process of community engaged intervention development, as well as showcase examples of completed interventions and interventions currently in the works. 

Prioritizing the lived experience of young adults with mental health conditions in mental health services research: Kathryn Sabella, PhD, Deputy Director Transitions ACR

Abstract: Dr. Sabella will provide an overview of her research that prioritizes the lived experiences of young adults with mental health conditions. Pulling from qualitative and quantitative research, this presentation will summarize young adults’ experiences managing their mental health conditions while pursuing normative school and work activities, how many young adults explore gender identities over time, and how young adults prefer to be asked about their gender identity. It will also offer a preview of emerging lines of research on alcohol consumption among young adult women and young mothers. 

Racial, Ethnic, and Area-Based Differences in Protective Factor Prevalence Among Predisposition Youth: Nana Yaa Marfo, PhD, iSPARC Postdoc Fellow

Abstract: This presentation will discuss research in progress from the multi-state Youth Protective Factors Study. This research will examine whether there are significant differences between Black (n = 708), White (n = 600), and Latinx (n = 207) justice-involved youth from three states (N = 1879) with respect to the presence, composition and predictive value for recidivism of protective factors. Plans to explore how individual race may interact with area-based measures of social deprivation in the presence and value of youth protective factors will also be discussed.