For Taylor Levine ’18, working as a clinical research coordinator at the Depression & Clinical Research Program (DCRP) at Massachusetts General Hospital represents an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of treatment options for individuals with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
“I get the chance to help discover the most effective and innovative treatments for depression, such as deep brain stimulation, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and ketamine,” Levine said.
After completing her senior thesis on postpartum depression this spring, and thanks to enjoying extensive courses on MDD and other affective disorders, the psychology major and neuroscience minor saw a chance to apply and expand on her academic interests at the DRCP.
“I get to have both direct interactions with patients and research subjects,” she said, “and continue to study the neurobiological underpinnings of affective disorders.”
Levine’s busy schedule at Massachusetts General Hospital is split between patient care and research coordination.
“When I am with patients, I collect vitals, blood samples, and sometimes perform EKGs,” Levine said. “Then, I provide my patient with study materials, such as questionnaires and/or interviews. Finally, about once a week I spend my day running my patients through PET-MRI scans, during which they complete psychological tasks. At all other times, I recruit patients for clinical trials, screen them through phone interviews, and manage the data from multiple studies.”
Levine found this position through a Haverford connection: the DCRP’s program director is Jonathan Alpert ’86. After “cold emailing” several directors of research programs in psychology at hospitals in Boston, Levine said, “Alpert noticed I was from Haverford and sent me the DCRP application.”
The DCRP also offers uniquely valuable opportunities outside the lab to their employees, which Levine is eager to explore.
“Alongside the valuable research experience,” she said, “the DCRP offers a stipend to attend nationwide conferences on research, encourages its employees to present original research at conferences, and provides their clinical research coordinators a professional mentor of our choosing to help us apply to graduate school.”
When it comes to graduate school, Levine plans to combine the best of her Haverford education with her experience at the DCRP.
“As my senior thesis was primarily focused on behavioral neuroscience, and I studied postpartum depression in an animal model, this position will offer me valuable experience in neuropsychological research in the human population,” she said. “This research experience is directly related to my interests for graduate study, and will inevitably aid in my application to graduate school, which I hope to attend for a developmental neuropsychology Ph.D.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.