Maria A. Oquendo, MD, PhD
PHILADELPHIA— Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States that disproportionately affects minority and disenfranchised communities, including Black, Hispanic, and LGBTQ populations. Yet, these groups often are not included in suicide prevention research. In an effort to reduce disparities and increase the understanding of suicide, the National Institutes of Health awarded Penn Medicine researchers a grant of more than $14 million over the next five years to develop the Penn Innovation in Suicide Prevention Implementation Research (INSPIRE) Center.
Led by Maria A. Oquendo, MD, PhD, chair of Psychiatry in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Gregory K. Brown, PhD, a research associate professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry at Penn and director of the Penn Center for the Prevention of Suicide, the center brings together psychiatry, implementation science, health economics, machine learning, and other interdisciplinary research experts to apply innovative approaches to suicide prevention.
“This grant allows us to further drive much-needed suicide research for underserved groups. Not only will we develop and adapt researched-based suicide prevention interventions for underserved groups, but we’ll focus on testing ways to optimize how these evidence-based practices can be brought to scale efficiently,” Oquendo said.
Gregory K. Brown, PhD
Part of the focus of the center involves developing and testing strategies for a range of practice settings, including those with limited resources. For example, one project will test an approach leveraging telehealth to deliver high-quality Safety Planning Intervention and follow-up services in emergency departments.
INSPIRE will also support 10 pilot projects and a “Methods Core” focused on testing new methods to advance research at the intersection of suicide prevention and implementation science. Furthermore, the center will form a Suicide Prevention Scholars Program, to expand the cadre of suicide prevention researchers by engaging both emerging investigators and established scientists who do not currently work on suicide prevention—particularly those from groups under-represented in research.
“INSPIRE is poised to transform suicide prevention. By driving interdisciplinary, cross-sector collaborations and through advancing suicide prevention research, care, and policy, we hope to develop cost-effective, practical, and efficient ways to implement much-needed suicide prevention interventions,” said Brown, who is also a Clinical Psychologist at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center in Philadelphia.
The new INSPIRE Center is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health (P50MH127511).
Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.
The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.
Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.