Assistant Professor Shaun Eack Receives $3.1 Million Grant to Study New Treatments for Schizophrenia

Pitt School of Social Work Professor Receives $3.1 Million Grant to Study New Treatments for Schizophrenia

Aims to examine whether psychotherapy can improve the brain

PITTSBURGH--- University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work Assistant Professor Shaun M. Eack, Ph.D., in collaboration with Dr. Matcheri Keshavan at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has received a $3.1 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study new therapies for treating cognitive (“thinking”) challenges in early schizophrenia. The 5-year study plans on using a novel treatment called Cognitive Enhancement Therapy in order to examine the benefits of this psychotherapy on the brain.

Initial research has suggested that this new type of "cognitive remediation" therapy can protect against brain loss and improve brain function in people with schizophrenia.  It also shows promise for helping young people with the illness get back to school and work.  Dr. Eack’s research will now examine the benefits of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy as an early intervention strategy for schizophrenia, when combined with medication.

“We have learned that the brain is far more subject to change than previously believed.  This research is really exciting as it may represent the first show that psychological treatments for schizophrenia can actually improve the brain where other treatments have failed.”

Dr. Eack’s study is now accepting patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or schizophreniform disorder who are between the ages of 18-35, and who have been ill for less than 8 years. Interested family members and patients can contact intake staff at 412-586-9000 or 412-246-5957.

Dr. Eack was recently the recipient of the 2013 Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award-Junior Scholar category.

Contact:  Shannon Murphy at 412-648-9404 or 

February 15, 2013