I worked as a research assistant at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center under the supervision of Robert Smith, M.D/PhD of NYU Medical School Department of Psychiatry for the last 2 summers. His research is focused on patients with schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder. The schizophrenic population has one of the highest rates of smoking. Some studies indicate that nicotine corrects some of the cognitive or neurophysiological deficits seen in schizophrenic patients. The purpose of our research was to test the effect of nicotine nasal spray on measures of attention, verbal memory, and visual spatial memory in schizophrenic patients who were chronic smokers. My responsibilities while working with Dr. Smith included administering neurocognitive tests on patients (Wisconsin Card Sort, Visual Spatial Dot Memory Test, Vigil CPT, and ANAM), observing clinical interviews, writing monthly progress notes on research patients, and background research on patient’s drug history. From this study a research paper, Effects of Nicotine Nasal Spray on Cognitive Function in Schizophrenia, has been completed and is now being submitted for publication.
Along with the neurocognitive research project, I also assisted Dr. Smith with a project involving the effects of Risperidone and Olanzapine on glucose levels in schizophrenic patients. This study involves the administration of the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS) for Schizophrenia.
With the experience I gained working with Dr. Smith I was able to sit on the clinical interviews for PANSS and I will be attending training sessions for administering this test.
This internship experience has been very rewarding.