PAU Faculty Member C. Barr Taylor, M.D., and Colleagues Receive Almost $4 Million in National Grants

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Research being led by PAU faculty member C. Barr Taylor, M.D., is benefitting from two grants that focus on using technology to facilitate therapeutic treatment.  Taylor is among the principal investigators sharing in a $3.8 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The NIMH study will evaluate the use of coached programs provided on smartphones to help treat psychiatric common among college students, addressing the critical need for access to mental health services for college students.  
 
Over the next three years, the investigators hope to screen about 150,000 college students and enroll about 8,000 students in the study who have depression, anxiety, and or eating disorders. This will provide an opportunity for students at PAU to learn how to provide digitally supported, coached therapy and to be part of a large, national research effort to provide affordable, accessible, evidence-based case to college students and others.
 
He also received a $100,000 grant from The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).Eating Disorders (EDS) are important problems affecting an estimated 13.5% and 3.6% of US college-age women and men respectively, yet less than 20% of students report receiving treatment, according to Taylor. Dr. Taylor and his research team have conducted a number of studies related to prevention and treating eating disorders.  
 
“It is very gratifying to pursue research that helps people with eating disorders,” said Taylor, who is director of Palo Alto University’s Center for m2Health and the eClinic, which conducts research that evaluates the use of technology in traditional psychotherapy.  “Both of these projects use technology to address important issues and make mental health services a more accessible resource.”
 
The NEDA grant allows Taylor to focus on developing a scalable, low-cost eating disorder prevention resource through a fully automated chatbot. Taylor and colleague Ellen Fitzsimmons-Craft, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have created a moderated, fully automated version of the StudentBodies© online self-help program (a multimedia health educational program designed to improve body satisfaction) and a specialized chatbot named Tessa™. The research will determine the effects of this prototype in reducing key eating disorders risk factors, such as weight and shape concerns or thin-ideal internalization in women at high risk for the onset of eating disorders.
 
Taylor has published over 370 scientific articles and 11 professional books. His main area of research focuses on using technology to facilitate prevention and intervention of common mental health problems and issues.