Job Description

Job Title: Research Project Assistant (Autism; Merck Inpatient)
Job ID: 690236
Status: Full-Time
Regular/Temporary: Regular
Shift: Day Job
Facility: Western Psychiatric Institute
Department: WPT - Mazefsky
Location: 3811 O'hara Street, Pittsburgh PA 15213


The research project assistant will be responsible for managing day to day activities for the project within the Merck Inpatient Unit at Western Psychiatric Institute Clinic and must work collaboratively with the unit treatment team. The participants for this study will be between the ages of 4 and 20.

This team focuses on autism research and emotion regulation for individuals with autism. The ideal candidate will be able to multitask and work calmly under pressure.

This position is grant funded.


Independently execute job functions for research protocol(s). Share responsibility of managing the day to day activities for the research project. Handle project specific tasks as needed.

  • Ability to work independently with little supervision once trained.
  • Assist (but not administer) in collection of blood samples from the child with ASD and his/her biological parents (e.g. coordinate the blood draw, accompany/escort the family, and oversee its safe shipment)
  • Assist in IRB modifications and renewals
  • Attend study team meetings, and participate in phone calls, and treatment team meetings as required
  • Become reliable in the coding of previously collected structured temperament task data from inpatient participants, and complete coding of video recorded assessments in ELAN
  • Collaborate in all recruitment activities, handle project specific tasks, and assist with day to day activities for research project including recruitment, data collection, participant payments, budget management, etc.
  • Collect data during the child�s inpatient stay, which will include administration of intelligence/cognitive tests with patients, questionnaires with parents, and pulling relevant data from the child�s clinical chart
  • Contact biological parents who are not local to discuss the possibility of participating to provide a biosample
  • Enter study data into a secure database
  • Help acclimate the child to wearing a biosensor on the wrist to collect physiological and movement data
  • If families are not willing to provide a blood sample, offer saliva sample or cheek swab options and assist in collecting this data
  • Independently execute job functions for research protocol(s) including recruitment, scheduling appointments, obtaining written consent forms, collecting data by conducting phone or face to face interviews for research project(s) as needed.
  • Maintain reliability in measure administration, including attendance at a research assistant training in Maine
  • Manage and dispense participant payments to parents who provide a biosample
  • Manage the inpatient research project and assure that all data is completed on time in accordance with accepted standards of reliability and scientific integrity. Collaborate with study staff and unit clinicians in all study activities and handle project specific tasks and day to day activities for the research project
  • Must maintain strict patient/participant confidentiality at all times.
  • Must remain aware and sensitive to the fact that the children and families in the study are in a period of crisis, and must act accordingly.
  • Observe the child for 1-4 hour periods of regular activity on the unit while the child is wearing the biosensor and record the onset and offset of disruptive behavior including aggression on a mobile app
  • Obtain written informed consent and assent when applicable
  • Participant in weekly supervision with the designated study investigator as well as collaborate with all unit leadership
  • Track enrollment of participants and progress of data collection to ensure that the study has an adequate flow of participants and provide reports on this progress to the study team as requested; Responsibility for ensuring that benchmarks from funders for study enrollment are met
  • Work with clinical staff to identify eligible participants and administer questionnaire eligibility measure


  • Bachelors degree required preferably in psychology, neuroscience, sociology, or related research field. 
  • Minimum of two years of work experience in a research project and/or related clinical setting is required. 
  • Experience with patients/participants with a diagnosis of autism in a clinical or research setting is strongly preferred.
  • Familiarity with computers and common software packages required. 
  • Working knowledge of research methodology strongly preferred.  
  • Prior supervisory and/or project management experience preferred.

Licensure, Certifications, and Clearances:
  • Act 34 Criminal Clearance
  • Comprehensive Crisis Management

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. Minority/Females/Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities

Salary Range: $16.23 to $25.77

Union Position: No

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