New Studies

MRI Brain Scan

Our Research Studies

Just some of the groundbreaking work we do at the Lifespan Brain Institute

Our LiBI team is dedicated to studying how the brain and behavior develop and change over time and in response to different illnesses. This collaboration between the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania bridges the gap between pediatric and adult research, making it possible for researchers to begin studying participants at a young age and to continue to follow them into adulthood.

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Dr. Raquel Gur

Raquel Gur, M.D., Ph.D.

Evolution of Psychosis in Youth

The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of genes and the environment on brain development and behavior in men and women, ages 15 – 30 years old.

The study will enroll four groups: individuals with low genetic risk for psychosis and low environmental risk, individuals with low genetic risk for psychosis and high environmental risk, individuals with high genetic risk for psychosis and low environmental risk, and individuals with high genetic risk for psychosis risk and high environmental risk. The research study includes a clinical assessment, neurocognitive assessment, questionnaires about moods and feelings, a blood draw, and an MRI scan.

The results of this study will help us learn more about how environmental adversity and genetic vulnerability affects psychosis risk. Dr. Raquel Gur and Dr. Ruben Gur are the Principal Investigators for this study.

Rare CNV

The International Consortium on Brain and Behavior Copy Number Variants (IBBC-CNVs) is a collaborative effort of nine institutions with complementary experience and expertise in phenomics and genomics. We are recruiting participants into the Lifespan Brain Institute who have a diagnosis of 22q11.2 and 16p11.2 deletions (Del) and duplications (Dup) and their relatives. This research aims to better understand brain and behavioral differences in individuals ages seven years and older with rare copy number variants.

Participation Includes:

  • The Computerized Neurocognitive Battery
  • An interview with either just you (if you're 18 or older) or you and a parent if you're under 18
  • A blood sample
  • As always, we will compensate you for your time and will cover any parking or transportation expenses.

The Computerized Neurocognitive Battery takes about 1 hour, the interview takes about 2 hours, and the consent and blood draw/saliva sample will take about half an hour, so the whole research visit will last about 3 hours. We'll also ask if you're willing to let us contact you again to see if you're interested in participating in any of our future studies. (For more information about this study, please call Sean Gallagher at 215-906-5071)

Dr. Satterthwaite

Theodore Satterthwaite, M.D., M.A.

Executive Function

Dr. Satterthwaite's research study focuses on how developing brain networks allow children to executive function—  which includes self-control. 

His research study is open to children ages 8-15, and includes decision-making and puzzle-like games on a computer, questionnaires about moods and feelings, and a 1-hour MRI scan.  Participating children return one or two times over several years.  Each visit lasts approximately 3.5 hours; your child will be compensated for their time.

By following brain development over time, Dr. Satterthwaites and his research team seek to better understand how the developing brain supports executive function and self-control  in children and adolescents with different mental health experiences.


The University of Pennsylvania seeks young adults ages 18-28 for a research study. The purpose of this study is to use different types of MRI scans to find individualized TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) targets and compare how the brain responds. We are also interested in using TMS during a working memory test to see how it affects task performance.

TMS involves a procedure during which your brain will be noninvasively (i.e. from the scalp) stimulated by magnetic pulses and MRI scans are used to take pictures of your brain. In this study we administer TMS inside of the MRI scanner so we can see how the stimulation affects the rest of the brain.

Participation Includes:

  • Visit 1: Initial Screening Session (4-6 hours)
  • Visit 2: MRI Scan and Assessments (2-4 hours)
  • Visit 3: MRI Scan with TMS (1.5 hours)
  • Visit 4 (healthy control participants only): MRI Scan with TMS (1.5 hours)
  • Visit 5: Task MRI Scan (1 hour)
  • Monetary Compensation
If you are interested in participating, please complete our online screening form at this link: or give us a call at 215-746-2637

Dr. Jerome Taylor

Jerome Taylor, M.D.

Melatonin, Sleep, and Mental Health

Dr. Taylor is a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist interested in developing interventions to prevent schizophrenia and other illnesses with psychotic features, like bipolar. He is also interested in the biological mechanisms underlying the “conversion” from being a youth at high risk for psychosis (e.g. a child or adolescent who has a family member with schizophrenia or bipolar) to a youth with a fulminant psychotic disorder. He is particularly interested in the roles neuroinflammation, oxidative stress and sleep play in "conversion to psychosis."

Dr. Taylor's Melatonin, Sleep and Mental Health research study seeks to understand how sleep affects mental health.

His study includes participants (age 11 - 30) who have mild sleep problems. The purpose of this research study is to see if supplemental melatonin improves sleep and the sleep-wake patterns (also known as circadian rhythm) in children, teenagers, and young adults with at-risk symptoms.

For this study, participants will take an over-the-counter melatonin pill or placebo for 2 weeks. In addition, they will complete a computerized test that measures memory and attention and an interview about life experiences, family history, thoughts, feelings and aspects of mental health.

Daniel Wolf, M.D., Ph.D.


Dr. Wolf's research study is examining motivation in adolescents and young adults, ages 16 to 26. He is interested in studying how brain development affects this process.

His research study includes decision-making and puzzle-like games on a computer, self-report questionnaires (i.e., answering questions about mood, behavior, and personality), a 1-hour interview answering questions about how you spend your time, and a 1-hour MRI scan. The research study lasts approximately 6 hours and and study participants will be compensated for their time and travel.

The MOTIVE research team hopes to better understand how motivation evolves in adolescents and young adults with different mental health experiences.

The 1289-0032 Study

Are Your Thoughts Tangled?

You’re not sure how or why it happened, but you are aware of instances lately when it felt like you had no control over your thoughts. You couldn’t think clearly or concentrate, and you may have even heard or seen things that other people didn’t.

While these were unsettling times, you eventually regained control of your thoughts. Still, you may be concerned about whether it will happen again and if it could be a sign of a more serious mental health condition.

Because you and others have experienced symptoms like these, local doctors are conducting the 1289-0032 Research Study. In this study, doctors want to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of an investigational drug and compare it to placebo, which looks like the investigational drug but contains no active medication. The investigational drug is not approved to treat any mental health condition.

The results of this study will provide more information about the investigational drug and whether it could one day be used to help people who have experienced symptoms similar to yours.

Patients eligible for this study may have experienced symptoms such as:

  • Trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Believing or hearing things that others do not
  • Losing control of their thoughts
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Feeling that others are “out to get” them
  • Having trouble with family and friends
  • Having thoughts that scare them or the people around them
  • Having trouble at work or school

You may be able to participate in this study if you:

  • Are 16 to 30 years of age
  • Are experiencing one or more of the symptoms listed in this brochure
  • Have not been diagnosed with schizophrenia or related disorders, bipolar disorder I, or major depressive disorder with psychotic symptoms
  • Are not taking a medication called clozapine

The study staff will review additional eligibility requirements with you. All study-related visits, tests, and drugs will be provided at no cost. In addition, reimbursement for study-related time and travel may be provided.

Please visit to learn more.

Dr. Ran Barzilay

Ran Barzilay M.D., Ph.D.

Risk and Resilience to Developmental Stress

Dr. Barzilay’s research study Mechanisms of Resilience to Developmental Stress in Children and Adolescents aims to understand why some people are resilient when experiencing stressful life events as they grow up, while others are susceptible and develop distressing thoughts or emotions.

His research study is open to adolescents and young adults ages 16-30, and includes puzzle-like games on a computer, a 1-hour interview answering questions about your thoughts and feelings, and questionnaires about life history and personality traits. Additionally, participants are asked to provide a blood sample, saliva Sample and a small hair sample- these will be studied to learn about the biological differences between resilience and susceptibility.

The research study lasts approximately 4 hours and study participants will be compensated for their time and travel.