THE SCHIZOPHRENIA RESEARCH UNIT
At the New York State Psychiatric Institute



The Schizophrenia Research Unit (SRU)
is a 12-bed inpatient unit in The New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI). NYSPI is associated with the New York Presbyterian Medical Center and the Department of Psychiatry of Columbia University.

Research-The Schizophrenia Research Unit aims to provide state-of-the-art treatment for patients with schizophrenia while attempting to answer a wide range of scientific questions about the nature and causes of this illness. Our goal is to develop a comprehensive knowledge base, which will enable us to provide the best possible treatment. The study design is multifaceted, examining diagnostic, neurological, biochemical, physiological and psychosocial aspects of the illness. We are particularly interested in using images to study the brain and in the role played by genetic and environmental factors in schizophrenia. Family members of patients will be invited to participate in the investigations and assessments. Patients may be eligible to participate in studies of investigational drugs that show promise for the treatment of positive and negative symptoms.

Free Treatment- Patients may be eligible for treatment with any approved antipsychotic medication including Ziprasidone, Risperidone, Clozapine, Quetiapine, Olanzapine, and Aripiprazole. A program of psychoeducation, social skills training, leisure education, and family work is conducted throughout the hospital stay. The Schizophrenia Research Unit is supported by Federal, State and private funding. There is no cost to patients or their families.

Who will be considered for admission to the SRU?
The staff of the Schizophrenia Research Unit will consider admitting only those individuals whom we feel will benefit from the evaluation and treatment provided in our unit. Patients must meet the following criteria for consideration:

  • between 18 and 60 years of age

  • have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective or schizophreniform disorder, or new onset psychotic disorder

  • willing to participate in most of the research protocols

  • give permission for us to contact at least one relative if available

  • have no significant medical illness

  • have no recent history of significant violence or self-injurious behavior

  • have no current drug or alcohol abuse

  • able to give informed consent for the research procedures

  • if appropriate, consider undergoing a period of 4 weeks off of medication

  • if appropriate, consider participation in a study of experimental medication

What are some of the research studies conducted on the unit?

  •  Studies of brain anatomy using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), SPECT
    (single-photon emission computed tomography) and PET (positron-emission
    tomography).
  • Neuropsychological evaluation of cognitive functioning in schizophrenia.
  • The development of new methods of diagnosis and classification of schizophrenia.
  • Studies of the role of genetics in schizophrenia using novel family study methods.
  • Investigation of pre-natal and birth complications and their role in the later development of schizophrenia.
  •  Electrophysiological evaluation of information processing.
  • Role of stress in schizophrenia.
  • Psychosocial investigations of the impact of family treatment, social skills training, and leisure education.
  • Clinical trials of new medication treating symptoms of schizophrenia (only occasionally).

What is the length of the hospitalization?
Decisions about length of stay are determined based on the clinical needs and research participation of the individual patient. An individualís stay on the unit may vary based on factors such as response to treatment, aftercare plans, etc. The average length of stay in the SRU is 2 to 4 months.

Is smoking allowed in the SRU?
Smoking is not allowed during the admission to the SRU. If you smoke and decide to be admitted, staff will assist you to stop smoking.

In what ways will I benefit from participation in research?

Research studies are not designed for your direct benefit. However, any research findings that may have a clinical significance for your treatment (i.e., diagnostic consensus) will be reported to your clinician in the SRU and will become part of your permanent record.

In what ways will I benefit from the clinical program?

  • Extensive diagnostic evaluation.
  • Access to approved medications for schizophrenia and extended length of stay.
  • Daily individual and group activities, with a focus on independent functioning.
  • Active social, occupational, recreational and family assessment and treatment aimed to improve self-care and interpersonal skills and insight about the illness.

How do I apply for the Schizophrenia Research Unit?
If you are interested in participating in our research efforts and program, call Beatriz Alvarez, Screening Coordinator, at (212) 543-5418 or the SRU nursing station, at (212) 543-5379. We will return your call to obtain some initial information. Patients and relatives are encouraged to meet with us for an on-site screening interview that will provide an opportunity for the individual and family to learn more about the different research studies and clinical components of the SRU.


For More Information,
please contact:

Beatriz Alvarez, MA. Roberto Gil, M.D
Clinical Research Coordinator Unit Chief, SRU
New York State Psychiatric Institute New York State Psychiatric Institute
1051 Riverside Dr., Unit 2
New York, NY 10032 
1051 Riverside Dr., Unit 2
New York, NY 10032
Ph: (212) 543-5418 Fax: (212) 543-5537 Ph: (212) 543-6190 Fax: (212) 543-5537
E-mail: alvarez@pi.cpmc.columbia.edu   E-mail: gilrobe@pi.cpmc.columbia.edu