The Rutgers-Princeton Center for Computational Cognitive NeuroPsychiatry (CCNP) was established to allow for researcher-friendly and rapid collection of data from human participants performing cognitive neuroscience-based tasks. Data collected at the CCNP will serve as the foundation for computational modeling efforts and other approaches to discovery, as a means to accelerate and improve our understanding of the psychological and biological mechanisms involved in mental illness and its treatment.
The CCNP has access to large samples of individuals with psychiatric conditions, as well as to psychiatrically healthy subjects. The Center includes expertly-trained staff who recruit participants for studies, administer clinical interviews, and run experiments in the 3 large running rooms available on-site. To initiate a project, investigators simply need to work with CCNP staff to develop local IRB protocols for their projects (formally: low-weight amendments to the CCNP Umbrella IRB protocol) and then CCNP staff will carry out all of the data collection. Services include recruiting participants, creating and managing study databases, clinical interviewing, and running participants through experimental procedures. Investigators are free to have as much or as little contact with the staff and participants as they like. Consultative services for psychological instruments are also available from our Director of Clinical Assessment.
Advantages of Using the CCNP
There are four primary benefits of running your projects through the CCNP:
1. Cost savings: Instead of hiring full-time research assistants, you use our expertly-trained staff who have years of experience in clinical interviewing and running research protocols with healthy and clinical populations using a variety of methods. This leads to significant cost saving; whereas full-time staff will require you to pay for much time that is spent in non-productive activity, the CCNP will only charge for time spent in active data collection or management (e.g., data entry). Further savings are gained by eliminating the costs associated with hiring and training research assistants to mastery of multiple experimental and clinical measures. Finally, since the core functions of the CCNP are covered under an already-approved IRB protocol, new CCNP studies require only an abbreviated and simplified protocol amendment that describes the specific interviews and tasks to be used in your study. This saves time writing, revising and waiting for approval of lengthy and detailed IRB protocols. In short, by choosing to use the CCNP, you gain access to highly trained research staff, invest very little in training and IRB protocol preparation, and your investment is needed only as long as your project runs. You will realize a significant cost savings without compromising on the quality of research.
2. Expert consultation: The CCNP employs a Director of Clinical Assessment who will be available to consult with you on, and provide for your review, various psychological measures relevant to the population you wish to study. Additionally, CCNP staff will be available to consult on research design and will assist you in the preparation of all IRB materials.
3. Participant recruitment: The CCNP has access to the entirety of Rutgers University’s patient population. We have relationships with the treatment staff in various clinical programs and can access reports that allow us to identify appropriate clinics for meeting recruitment goals. Should you be interested in running research protocols with patients with neurological, ophthalmologic, or physical health conditions, we can also procure those samples for you. You tell us what you the types of participants you want and we deliver.
4. Highly trained and experienced research assistants: Our research staff have extensive experience recruiting and running adults and children through research protocols. They are trained to use sophisticated diagnostic (e.g., SCID for DSM-5) and symptom assessment tools (e.g., PANSS, BPRS, Young Mania Scale, HAM-D) and experimental procedures. Hiring and retaining high-quality and well-trained research staff is extremely difficult and costly. By using the CCNP, you bypass those difficulties and costs.
The CCNP currently employs three staff members. The Director of Clinical Assessment is Dr. Molly Erickson, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Erickson earned her PhD in clinical psychology and neuroscience from Indiana University in 2013, after which she completed a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. She has designed, conducted, and managed multiple research protocols including those associated with NIMH grants. Dr. Erickson is available for all aspects of consultation on your project and will actively manage all CCNP study activities.
Danielle Paterno, BS, and Antoine Lebeaut, BS, serve as research assistants at the CCNP. Ms. Paterno has been employed as a research assistant at Rutgers University for over 7 years and has extensive experience assessing and running healthy and clinical participants through experimental procedures. Mr. Lebeaut has been employed at Rutgers since 2015. Mr. Lebeaut has experience working with children and adults with various forms of mental health conditions in experimental and treatment research settings. Both Ms. Paterno and Mr. Lebeaut have received extensive in-depth training in clinical assessment using multiple diagnostic and symptom assessment tools.
Finally, Dr. Steven Silverstein and Dr. Yael Niv serve as Co-Directors of the CCNP. Drs. Niv and Silverstein are world-renowned researchers with strong publication and grant procurement records. Drs. Silverstein and Niv are available primarily as administrators and collaborators, but should their consultative services be requested, such requests will be honored.
The CCNP is currently situated in a large suite on Rutgers University’s Busch campus in Piscataway (675 Hoes Lane West). The center has three rooms for running participants through experimental protocols, in addition to cubicle space for staff and a large storage space. Each room contains computers that either have or can have installed state-of-the-art experimental software to run your research protocols. Should your project require specific hardware, please contact CCNP staff by email at CCNP@ubhc.rutgers.edu. Given the size of our experimental rooms and available storage, we can accommodate various pieces of equipment simultaneously without issue. In addition, several subjects can be run simultaneously in the same room when this is required.
Project Proposal Submission Process
To facilitate the expedient conduct of research at the CCNP, we have established an expedited means of submitting experimental protocols to the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) IRB. Researchers will work with our staff to develop required materials for the IRB.
All researchers using the CCNP will have to complete or provide evidence of completion of research ethics training through the CITI Collaborative. All researchers from outside of Rutgers University who use the CCNP will need to establish Guest Accounts with our IRB. Please click the following links for our protocol template, IRB guest account establishment procedures, and instructions on how to affiliate your already completed CITI training with Rutgers University.
IRB Approval Process
The CCNP has an umbrella IRB protocol that includes all research run at the Center. Each specific study must be submitted as an amendment to this protocol, and be approved as such. This means that you only need to specify to the IRB those aspects of your research that are unique to your study. In other words, the umbrella protocol acts as a frame for individual experiment protocols, and includes generalized approval for recruitment, clinical assessment, and cognitive experimental tasks. Your amendment must be specific to your experimental protocol, which will identify the exact clinical and cognitive assessment tasks will be used. Researchers will collaborate with our staff to develop documents for our IRB and then, our staff will submit your protocol and interact with the IRB. Throughout the process of approval, we will continually update you and may need to request additional information from you. The process of approval once a protocol is submitted can take 6-8 weeks. This timeline will vary from protocol to protocol given the relative risks and novelty of the experimental procedures. That said, given the experience and relationships we have with the Rutgers University IRB, we will be able to minimize delays in getting your project started.
During the CCNP warm-up period, the fee is $200 per hour of participant testing. This cost includes standard compensation to participants (if your study requires higher than average compensation, e.g., for payment based on performance, you might have to cover the excess payments). Although you pay only for hours in which we test participants for your study, the cost is all inclusive, that is, it includes participant recruitment, as well as data management.
Our goal is to foster and encourage cutting-edge research that will move science forward, and will allow you to be competitive in seeking future funding. Therefore, in the initial warm-up period—until December 31, 2017—we are making available start-up grants that allow for free piloting of your task on a few participants. Instructions on how to apply for a start-up grant coming soon.
Location and Contact Information
The CCNP is housed on the ground floor of the Rutgers University Research Tower at 675 Hoes Lane West in Piscataway, NJ. Ample parking is available for our collaborators and research participants, and our location is accessible to those with physical disabilities. People interested in using the CCNP should email CCNP@ubhc.rutgers.edu and a member of our staff will respond promptly.
Consultation services are available in-person by appointment Monday through Friday during regular business hours. To schedule an appointment, please email CCNP@ubhc.rutgers.edu.