Research Forum History

The 2013 Research Forum, “Sensitive Periods in Brain Development: Implications for Child Psychopathology and Therapeutics,” co-chaired by Joan Luby, M.D., Judy Cameron, Ph.D., and Melissa Del Bello, M.D., M.S. will be held at the 60th Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida on October 22, 2013. Currently there is a paucity of direct data that elucidates sensitive periods in social and emotional development. Sensitive periods are likely to be underestimated in developmental domains pertinent to social and emotional functioning given that they are associated with highly complex, and as of yet, relatively poorly understood neural circuitry. This Research Forum introduces participants to the most current empirical studies that inform whether there may be sensitive periods in human emotional development. Considerations for next steps in research and how such sensitive periods may be applicable to treatment models in developmental psychopathology are reviewed and considered.

The 2012 Research Forum, “Preventing Psychopathology in Childhood and Adolescence,” led by Melissa DelBello, M.D., M.S., and co-chaired by Christoph Correll, M.D. and Manpreet Singh, M.D., M.S. was held at the AACAP Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California on October 23, 2012. While prevention science has developed dramatically in the past decades, child psychiatry has only recently branched out into this area. Moreover, the vast development of neurobiological tools and insights into mechanisms involved in gene-environment and environment-individual interactions has not been sufficiently integrated into the early, targeted prevention efforts in children and adolescents at risk for mental illness and those with early, subsyndromal symptoms and signs. The 2012 Research Forum introduces participants to principles of universal and targeted prevention in medicine, mechanisms involved in mental illness risk and resilience, and novel clinical applications of psychiatric prevention efforts in youth at familial and clinical high risk for exemplary major psychiatric disorders with pediatric onset.

The 2011 Research Forum, “Advancing Biomarker Sciences in Pediatric Psychiatry,” co-chaired by Graham Emslie, M.D., John March, M.D. and James McGough, M.D. was held at the Joint AACAP/CACAP Annual Meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on October 18, 2011. With the advent of new translational tools, biomarker identification and validation in psychiatry is poised to shift from a focus on establishing biological plausibility to translating insights about fundamental biology into tests for clinical use on regulatory pathways that guide their development and application. To speed this process, the 2011 Research Forum introduced participants to biomarker sciences as applied to the development of diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment biomarkers in pediatric psychiatry.

The 2010 Research Forum, co-chaired by Graham Emslie, M.D. and Christopher Kratochvil, M.D., was coordinated to identify research gaps with regard to currently available psychopharmacological agents in children and adolescents, and identified future research priorities from the perspective of researchers, clinicians, consumers, and federal and funding agencies. The program consisted of presentations focusing on the perspectives of various groups invested in future psychopharmacological research. Groups included: clinical researchers, pharmacoepidemiologists, clinicians, consumers, international researchers, and federal and funding agencies (FDA, NIH, and industry). Potential research methods to address the issues raised in the presentations were discussed. The Research Forum concluded with a discussion and audience participation to synthesize the overriding research questions that remain and potential solutions to conducting studies to answer these questions.

The 2009 Research Forum, “Investigating the Effects of Psychotherapy on Children and Adolescents: Learning from the Past - Moving Forward,” co-chaired by David Shaffer, F.R.C.P., F.R.C.Psych., David Brent, M.D., and Neal Ryan, M.D. was held at the AACAP Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawai’i on October 27, 2009. Studies such as TORDIA, MTA, TADS, CAMS, POTS, and ADAPT brought together teams of child psychiatrists, psychologists, methodologists and biostatisticians who have both changed the shape of child psychiatry practice and research and raised as many questions as they have answered. The 2009 Research Forum was stimulated by questions arising from the psychotherapy components of these studies.

The 2008 Research Forum, “What Is Longitudinal Research Informing Us about Clinical Disorders and Psychopathology?” co-chaired by David Shaffer, F.R.C.P., F.R.C.Psych., Helen Egger, M.D., and James McGough, M.D. was held in Chicago at the AACAP Annual Meeting on October 28, 2008. The Forum served as a longitudinal research review course that summarized recent follow up studies of the common psychiatric disorders of children and adolescents and the extent to which variation of outcome within a single diagnosis reflects subtype, comorbidity or other identifiable elements. The presentations considered whether variation in natural history is adequately displayed in the current classification of the disorders and where it is possible to determine the mechanisms that might underlie variable outcome. Attendees gained information on the course of the common psychiatric disorders of childhood that will be useful in future research studies and clinical settings.

The 2007 Research Forum, “The Future of Neuroimaging: Relevance for Child Psychiatry”, co-chaired by Brad Peterson, M.D., Danny Pine, M.D., and John Gore, Ph.D. was held at the AACAP Annual Meeting in Boston, MA on October 23, 2007. The Forum consisted of a series of presentations focusing on key insights emerging for various conditions, based on diverse methods. The presentations reviewed results from studies of both normal and abnormal development, relying on a range of brain imaging methods. The 2007 Research Forum attendees developed an understanding of the range of brain imaging modalities being used in child and adolescent psychiatry research and became aware of key, recent findings in various clinical disorders that rely on these techniques and recognized key questions to be addressed in future studies.

The 2006 Research Forum, “Protective and Risk Factors in Pediatric Bipolar Disorder: predicting outcomes” was held in San Diego, CA. The Forum, chaired by Robert Findling, M.D., Gabrielle Carlson, M.D., and Robert Post, M.D., was sold out three weeks prior to the event with over 120 attendees. The Forum examined rates of recovery for children, adolescents and adults with bipolar disorder, and determined what developmental and other differences and commonalities might emerge when various outcomes are considered. A summation of the proceedings of this Forum is currently in preparation. This document should provide the field with a cogent summation of what is known, what needs to be known, and means by which future research can help researchers learn more about this condition so that lives of children and adolescents suffering from bipolar illnesses can be improved.

The 2005 Research Forum, “Research Literacy: Speeding the Adoption of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) in Pediatric Psychiatry” was held in Toronto, CANADA. The Forum demonstrated the ready availability and wide applicability of EBM as applied to research, post-graduate and medical education, and clinical practice in an effort to speed its adoption as the standard heuristic for gaining and maintaining research literacy in child, adolescent and adult psychiatry.

The 2004 Research Forum, “Issues in the Conduct and Interpretation of Studies of Adolescent Depression,” was held in Washington, DC. The Forum reviewed problems and controversies that have become apparent in conducting and interpreting treatment research in adolescent depression and assisted the field by identifying a research agenda that would improve the quality of further research.

The 2003 Research Forum, “Assessment of Safety in Child Mental Health Research: Obstacles and Opportunities” was held in Miami Beach, FL. The meeting addressed the need to develop better methods for assessing the safety of psychosocial and psychopharmacological treatments in controlled clinical trials.

The 2002 Research Forum,  “Placebo and Alternatives to Placebo in Randomized Controlled Trials in Pediatric Psychopharmacology” was held in San Francisco, CA. This Forum convened a panel of experts including researchers, ethicists and IRB experts, regulatory experts, parent advocacy groups and industry representatives to determine when the use of a pill placebo is clearly justifiable in randomized, controlled trials and when it is not.

The 2001 Research Forum, "Recruitment in Child Mental Health Research: Obstacles and Opportunities," focused on recruiting and assessing child participants in clinical trials. A major recommendation that emerged from the 2001 Forum encouraged the utilization of media outlets to emphasize the many benefits of pediatric clinical trials, in order to eliminate the often biased and distorted portrayals of research in child and adolescent psychiatry.

The 2000 Research Forum, "Optimal Strategies for Developing and Implementing Psychopharmacological Studies in Preschool Children," dealt with optimizing the psychopharmacology clinical trial strategy for preschool children. Recommendations from this forum agreed with other recent initiatives on children's mental health, including conferences sponsored by the Surgeon General, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Pediatric Psychopharmacology Initiative (PPI) was created as a result of this Forum.