Inpatient Research Program

Program Description:

The Treatment Research Unit (TRU) was established in 1989 as a joint venture between the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMB), with the dual mission of providing state of the art clinical care to patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia while conducting research on novel treatments for this difficult illness.  Consisting of one 24-bed unit, the TRU is operated and staffed by Spring Grove Hospital.  The research mission is under the guidance of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC), a division of the Department of Psychiatry at UMB.  The research program is currently managed and directed by Deanna L. Kelly, PharmD, BCPP, Professor of Psychiatry as part of the MPRC Treatment Research Program.  The clinical unit and staff are supervised by Charles Richardson, MD, Staff Psychiatrist with Spring Grove Hospital.  At the TRU, clinical and research staff work collaboratively to provide an enhanced therapeutic experience for patients, providing expert, evidence-based, pharmaco-therapy, and state of the art psychosocial and rehabilitation-focused therapies.

Research Program:

Since its inception, the TRU has been a recruitment site for numerous medication trials that have targeted treatment-resistant psychosis, negative symptoms, and cognitive deficits in patients with Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder.  Under Dr. Kelly’s direction, the research program has also addressed substance use and medical co-morbidities associated with schizophrenia and its treatment.  Research participation is strictly voluntary and generally follows a period of open treatment optimization.  Patients are educated about research opportunities and they must demonstrate an understanding of the protocol and its risks before they can consent to participate.

Psychosocial Treatments:

While every effort is made to control symptoms through optimal pharmaco-therapy, the majority of our patients are still burdened with significant functional, financial, and social deficits.  Given that reality, the TRU’s psychosocial interventions are designed to foster personal recovery and rehabilitation.  Our goal is to help our patients understand and manage their illnesses in order to refocus on living their lives.   Therapeutic interventions include occupational and recreation therapies, motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral therapy, psycho-education, and family support.  We strive to help our patients re-establish family relationships and personal interests, and to transition to the community.  Disposition planning is client-centered, and is perhaps our most important activity.

Family Involvement:

The maintenance and repair of family relations is hugely important to our patients’ well-being and recovery.  Family support is also critical to accomplishing our research mission.  Thus, family involvement is encouraged at every stage of treatment.  Families are contacted at the time of referral and are encouraged to visit prior to admission and throughout the hospitalization.  Families are educated about research opportunities and a Family Education and Support Group is held each month

Referral Process:

The TRU accepts patient referrals from throughout the State of Maryland.  Admission Criteria include:
  • Males and Females between 18 and 65.
  • Diagnoses of Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder
  • Persistent symptoms that prevent safe community functioning

Exclusion Criteria include:

  • Mental Retardation and Neurologic Disorders independent of Schizophrenia
  • Unstable medical conditions
  • Legal status that would prevent research participation such as Guardianship of Person or Court Ordered treatment
On referral, the TRU’s recruiter will contact the referring agency and interview the referred patient to determine eligibility and interest.  When possible, patients and their families are encouraged to visit the TRU prior to accepting admission, to meet clinical staff and tour the unit.
To obtain further information or to make a referral, please contact:
Mandy Porta, LCSW-C
For specific information on clinical trial information, please contact:
Stephanie M. Feldman LCSW-C

Contact Us 

Clinical Staff:

Charles Richardson, MD
Psychiatrist and Unit Director
Gopal Vyas, DO
Elizabeth Gale, LCSW-C
Social Worker
Kelly Dutcher, LCSW-C
Social Worker
Michelle Kuptzin, OTR
Occupational Therapist
Anne Padgett, CTRS
Activity Therapist
Mandy Porta, LCSW-C
Unit Recruiter
Heather Adams, PsyD
Claribel Okafor, RN
Head Nurse
Research Staff:
Deanna L. Kelly, PharmD, BCPP
Professor of Psychiatry
Director and Chief
Treatment Research Program
Susan Basham
Karen Horn
Administrative Assistant
Stephanie M. Feldman, MSW, LCSW-C
Director of Research Operations
Dale Warfel, RN
Research Nurse
Ann Marie Kearns, BA
Specialist, Research Compliance
Kelli Sullivan, BS
Research Counselor
Amber Earl, MS
Clinical Research Assistant
Fang Liu, MS
Heidi Wehring, PharmD, BCPP
Assistant Professor
Kimberly Warren, PhD
Assistant Professor