Bridges in Translational Mental Health

Mission Statement:

Our goal is to strengthen research and educational ties between the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and GLA VA Department of Mental Health, and to support translational research at UCLA and in the growing VA scientific community by facilitating communication between basic and patient-oriented researchers.


Efforts are currently underway to promote collaboration between the UCLA Department of Psychiatry led by Dr. Peter Whybrow and the Greater Los Angeles VA Department of Mental Health led by Dr. Barry Guze. Dr. Guze cites research development and education as central to his primary mission for GLA Mental Health under his leadership. Following this vision, GLA VA Mental Health has increased support for research activities and substantially expanded hiring of young faculty investigators. The UCLA residency programs have a long-standing, productive working relationship with the GLA VA (e.g., psychiatry residents spend half of their training time at the GLA VA hospital and outpatient clinics). Despite this close collaboration in the training of physicians, relationships between the scientific communities and research training programs at the two sites are strikingly less well developed.

One of the key research seminars in UCLA psychiatry residency education is the weekly seminar of the Psychiatry Residency Research Training Program. Department of Psychiatry faculty, residents, fellows and medical students are invited to attend this weekly seminar, where invited faculty and trainees share their research findings, lead scientific discussions, critically examine published reports, and assist the trainees with research career development activities. The proposed BRI Affinity Group, the UCLA-VA Bridges in Translational Mental Health, seeks to develop and integrate a similar forum at the GLA VA. The Affinity Group will facilitate scientific exchange and collaboration between these two research communities by establishing a rotating joint schedule, where the two groups take turns hosting the meeting. We view this as an opportunity to not only promote translational bridges between basic and clinical behavioral health science, but to develop research-focused bridges between the two affiliated campuses. This will enhance the inclusion of joint UCLA-VA faculty located on the VA campus and UCLA trainees working in VA wards and clinics who have had limited access to the UCLA forum.  

Building on existing infrastructure and community commitment, the Bridges in Translational Mental Health BRI Affinity Group will be integrated into the UCLA Psychiatry Residency Research Training Program weekly seminar. Each month, one seminar will be devoted to the Bridges in Translational Mental Health BRI Affinity Group. This monthly seminar will be open to all trainees, BRI members and Psychiatry faculty at both the UCLA and VA campuses and will alternate between UCLA and VA sites to enable the broadest access. The existing, well-established UCLA site will continue to be led by Psychiatry Research Residency Training Program Director, David Krantz. Dr. Erika Nurmi, the Deputy Chief for Research for Mental Health at the GLA VA, will direct the group’s activities and seminar at the new VA-based forum. Additionally, Dr. Nurmi will coordinate the Bridges seminar programming.

Over a dozen newly recruited junior VA clinician-researchers who trained in the UCLA Research Residency Training Program now have dual appointments, with the majority of their time spent at the VA (highlighted above). This extensively trained, vibrant group of young investigators will form the core of the VA site of the Bridges in Translational Mental Health. These new, VA-based research faculty will be strongly encouraged to apply for BRI membership in the coming years. Similarly the increased access and visibility of cutting-edge translational research for other VA-based mental health care professionals, investigators and trainees will increase awareness of the BRI and nurture interest in translational research and application of basic science findings in clinical practice.

Faculty Participants:

BRI Faculty:

Erika Nurmi, MD, PhD

David Krantz, MD, PhD

Nelson Freimer, MD

Edythe London, PhD

Michael Irwin, MD, PhD

James McCracken, MD

Peter Whybrow, MD

Joint VA-UCLA Research Faculty:

Barry Guze, MD

Steve Marder, MD

Michael Green, PhD

Ken Wells, MD, MPH

Bruce Kagan, MD, PhD

Junghee Lee, PhD

William Horan, PhD

Arthur Brody, MD, PhD

David Sultzer, MD

New Joint VA-UCLA Faculty:

Scott Fears, MD, PhD

Frank Sun, MD, PhD

Marc Heiser, MD, PhD

Walter Dunn, MD, PhD

Yvonne Yang, MD, PhD

Meredith Hannan, MD, PhD

Roya Ijadi Maghsoodi, MD, MSHS

Pushpa Raja, MD, MSHS

Smitta Patel, MD

Ian Cook, MD

Margaret Stuber, MD

Larissa Mooney, MD

Gerhard Hellemann, PhD

How to Join:


Erika Nurmi, MD, PhD
Deputy Chief for Research
Department of Mental Health, Greater Los Angeles VA
Assistant Professor-in-Residence
UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
UCLA Semel Institute
760 Westwood Plz, 48-256B
Los Angeles, CA 90095