The Department of Psychiatry is pleased to welcome Dr. Caroline Oppenheimer to its faculty.
After earning a PhD in Clinical Child Psychology from the University of Denver in 2014, Dr. Oppenheimer moved to Pittsburgh to complete a clinical psychology internship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC. She obtained postdoctoral training through the federally funded Child and Adolescent Mental Health Research training program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine prior to joining the Department of Psychiatry faculty. Her graduate and postdoctoral work focused on interpersonal risk and dysfunction in the development of depression in youth, and affective vulnerability to depression within interpersonal contexts.
Dr. Oppenheimer’s current research focuses on predicting suicide risk in sexual minority and non-minority youth. With funding from a K01 career development award from the National Institute of Mental Health, she is testing an innovative model of suicide risk in a sample of sexual minority and nonminority adolescent girls that integrates neurobehavioral and interpersonal vulnerabilities. Specifically, Dr. Oppenheimer is testing the hypothesis that neural sensitivity to social rejection, when occurring in the presence of peer rejection, increases risk for suicide. The work builds on her prior training in interpersonal risk for depression and developmental psychopathology, and will enable her to gain valuable new skills the areas of affective neuroscience and suicide risk. Findings from this research will inform future studies to determine what interventions should be used for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, such as the potential use of neuromodulatory interventions currently used to treat physical pain conditions, and who is in need of these interventions, such as youth with heightened affective sensitivity to social rejection. The results of her work will also help to increase our understanding of when to use these interventions, such as after social rejection experiences during the adolescent developmental period. In addition to publishing numerous peer-reviewed papers in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Translational Psychiatry, and other important scientific journals, Dr. Oppenheimer has presented her findings at scientific conferences and meetings throughout the United States and Canada.
In addition to her extensive research activities, Dr. Oppenheimer gives generously of her time to the academic community and to community service. She regularly reviews for several scientific and clinical journals including Developmental Psychology and the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Dr. Oppenheimer is also very active in the WPIC Services for Teens at Risk (STAR Center) program, where she leads a parent group for the intensive outpatient program and co-leads the STAR Transition to Adulthood group for young adults transitioning out of the STAR program.
Please join us in welcoming Dr. Oppenheimer to the faculty.