Job Description

Job Title: Research Associate Sr WPIC
Job ID: 740692
Status: Full-Time
Regular/Temporary: Regular
Shift: Day Job
Facility: Western Psychiatric Institute
Department: WPT - Melhem
Location: 3811 O'hara Street, Pittsburgh PA 15213


For the PROmiSe R01 Study, we will recruit a large sample of psychiatric inpatients (n=300), aged 18-30 years, enriched for suicidal ideation; and healthy controls (n=50); and follow them at 3, 6, and 12 months from intake.  The risk for suicidal behavior is especially high during the first year after psychiatric hospitalization. We will collect biological data on hair cortisol concentrations, gene expression in the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis and inflammatory pathways, and systemic markers of inflammation (e.g., C-Reactive Protein, Tumor Necrosis Factor-a); and data on already-established clinical and behavioral predictors for suicidal behavior. This study is the first to examine the ability of biological markers in the HPA axis and inflammatory pathways to predict suicidal behavior and to examine them combined with clinical and behavioral predictors. This study will help better identify patients at highest risk who can then be targeted for closer monitoring and interventions; and will improve our understanding of the biological pathways for suicidal behavior, which will guide new therapeutic targets.


For the iCARE R01 Study, our overarching goal is to examine the trajectories of the HPA axis and inflammatory pathways in response to stress in children; and identify biological trajectories that predict maladaptive stress responses.  We will recruit 200 children, aged 12-17 years, of parents newly diagnosed with cancer (stress) within 6 months of diagnosis (intake) and follow them at 6 and 18 months following intake. This population will allow us to study the unfolding of stress responses, which is almost impossible to capture for other stressors. We will also recruit and follow 100 children from families where a parent or siblings do not have cancer or chronic illness or death (controls). We will measure gene expression in the HPA axis and inflammatory pathways; hair cortisol concentrations (HCC) to measure chronic HPA axis activity; salivary cortisol to measure cortisol awakening response (CAR); Glucocorticoid receptor sensitivity; C-Reactive Protein and inflammatory cytokines; and collect clinical data.


  • Act as a key team member in recruitment, calling and scheduling appointments, obtaining written consent forms, collecting data by face to face interviews for research project(s), collecting data on computer tasks, and collecting biological samples and delivering them in a timely manner to laboratories.
  • Assess suicidal risk and contact physician investigators when further assessment and intervention are needed.
  • Attend and participate in all project-related meetings, including regular staff meetings, diagnostic conferences, and research team meetings.
  • Conduct in-person semi-structured interviews and clinical assessments, and write descriptive clinical summaries (after necessary on-the-job training).
  • Ensure that complete data for the projects are turned in promptly.
  • Establish effective relationships on the inpatient units including but not limited to developing positive working relationships with the social workers, residents, attending physicians, and support staff.
  • Interface effectively with research staff to maintain efficient communication about data collection, entry, quality control issues and reports.
  • Monitor computer testing and assessment and ensure the safety and comfort of human volunteers during participation in this research.
  • Responsible for engagement with clinical staff to assure patients are ethically recruited into the study who meet the inclusion/exclusion criteria.
  • Review and collect data from medical records.


  • Masters degree required preferably in psychology, neuroscience, counseling, sociology, or related research field.
  • Minimum of one year of work experience in a research project and/or related clinical setting is required.
  • Familiarity with computers and common software packages required.
  • Working knowledge of research methodology strongly preferred.
  • Knowledge of DSM and experience in conducting psychiatric interviews and assessment is strongly preferred.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills to enhance interest in the study and participant experience
  • Excellent organizational and interpersonal skills required.
  • Effectively and diplomatically interact with professionals, inpatient physicians/staff, participants, and their families.
  • Must be able to travel to neighboring hospitals/clinics to conduct assessments and/or transport equipment.

    Licensure, Certifications, and Clearances:
    • Act 31 Clearance
    • Act 33 Child Clearance with Renewal
    • Act 34 Criminal Clearance with Renewal
    • Act 73 FBI Clearance
    • Comprehensive Crisis Management

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

Salary Range: $17.11 to $28.43 / hour

Union Position: No

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