• slide
  • slide
  • slide

Covering new territory: Research Center extends to Philadelphia

03/15/24 04:30:pm

With a new Philadelphia extension, Rogers Research Center is seizing a unique opportunity to cover new territory in its study of mental health.

Generous support from a foundation that wishes to remain anonymous helps expand the work of Rogers clinical director, Dr. Martin E. Franklin, PhD, an internationally renowned expert in the treatment of OCD and related disorders, and the work of two emerging investigators: Dr. Rachel A. Schwartz, PhD, who focuses largely on OCD, and Dr. Hana F. Zickgraf, PhD, whose research expertise is primarily in eating disorders.

Dr. Franklin says these funds will continue to support work to examine already-collected data from thousands of Rogers patients, referred to as retrospective studies.

“That’s a decade-worth of really interesting research data we can make use of now,” he says. “I jokingly refer to this grant as the Storage Wars gift. You get a bolt cutter and go out to the storage locker, and you can cut the bolt and you see what you’ve got in there. I think we’re going to find a lot of really useful stuff on the retrospective side, and all of that is going to drive forward the prospective studies.”

Thanks to the large amount of existing data and the ability to dive into it, Dr. Franklin says Rogers Research Center has an unprecedented chance to examine the effectiveness of mental health treatment and drive innovation.

“We’re in a unique position in the entire field, and maybe the entire world, to look at large sample sizes,” Dr. Franklin says. “You can discover nuanced findings that could never be seen before because we just didn’t have enough cases to examine. This is the Holy Grail to find out who’s responding well and who’s not, allowing us to be more specific in our treatment protocol. For 50 years, we have been chasing this.”

Over the past half century, he says the biggest challenge in OCD research has been recruiting enough patients for studies.

“We’re usually delighted if we get 100 to 120 cases,” Dr. Franklin says. “Here at Rogers, we have the opportunity to accrue sample sizes that have never been heard of before. We’re talking about 1,286 patients in the pediatric OCD telehealth dataset we have been examining, which is five times the largest sample size of treated patients ever collected. We can reach really exciting results with that.”

That study examined treatment outcomes among children and adolescents receiving OCD treatment via telehealth during the pandemic, demonstrating the effectiveness of telehealth as comparable to in-person care.

Dr. Franklin says this kind of research lays the groundwork for advancements to ultimately improve mental health care for patients by using “precision medicine,” or optimizing treatment strategies based on evidence.

“We’re in an ideal situation to further Rogers’ goals of determining what treatments work, who responds, and then making those treatments better going forward,” he says.

Meet the Philadelphia Research Center team:

franklin1219.jpgWith more than 30 years of clinical and supervisory experience, Dr. Franklin has focused his research on the treatment of OCD and related disorders including body-focused repetitive behaviors, as well as the treatment of anxiety disorders. He has published more than 260 scientific papers, chapters, and books and has provided leadership and expertise on numerous trials for OCD, Tourette Syndrome, trichotillomania, and social anxiety disorder. He is associate professor emeritus of clinical psychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of medicine, where he has been honored for his teaching excellence.

In 2023, along with his continued work on optimizing medication and treatment outcomes for children with OCD, Dr. Franklin authored several journal publications. Among them, a review examined different treatment approaches for trichotillomania and skin-picking disorder. In addition, he and Rogers colleagues examined existing literature on the best treatment approaches for a rarer presentation of OCD among children known as PANDAS and PANs.

MHamiltonVisuals.com-RachelSchwartz-SquareCrop_final.jpgDr. Rachel A. Schwartz, PhD, joined Rogers Research Center in 2023 as an associate research psychologist studying improving the efficacy and accessibility of treatments for anxiety and OCD, particularly for cases not responding to other forms of treatment. Dr. Schwartz’s research centers on treatment outcome prediction and expanding care access through digital platforms. Also a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Schwartz has 18 total publications, and has started several studies at Rogers, including one that examines treatment outcomes for pregnant patients with OCD. She is also investigating an often treatment resistant form of OCD with symptoms known as “not just right” or “incompleteness.”

Hana_Zickgraf CHOA headshot.jpgWith research focusing on improving the identification, classification, and treatment of eating disorders across one’s lifespan, Dr. Hana F. Zickgraf, PhD, also joined the Rogers Research Center in 2023. Her previous work focused on avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), the impact of food insecurity on the development of restrictive eating, orthorexia nervosa (a dysfunctional preoccupation with healthy eating), and the efficacy and enhancement of exposure-based treatments for disordered eating. Dr. Zickgraf has 60 publications and is a licensed clinical psychologist. She works closely with eating disorder and OCD treatment teams at Rogers to examine how sleep disturbance impacts eating disorder symptoms in patients. Previous Rogers research has shown a high prevalence of co-occurring sleep disturbance in patients with eating disorders. In addition, Dr. Zickgraf has accelerated an investigation into a pediatric quality of life assessment.

About Rogers Research Center

Research Center team.JPG

Established in 2020, Rogers Research Center advances evidence-based practice to improve mental health outcomes through new discoveries. The research is designed to be applicable to Rogers patients as well as the broader mental health community.

Posted in

Related articles