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Clinical investigators receive award for research innovation

Huntsman Mental Health Institute is pleased to celebrate Rana Jawish, MD, and Ben Lewis, MD, who were named recipients of the 2024 New Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology (ASCP). The ASCP works to advance the science, education, and practice of clinical psychopharmacology — the scientific study of the use of drugs in the treatment of mental and behavioral disorders. 

The goals of the New Investigator Award program are to expose awardees to the breadth of opportunities available to clinical researchers, introduce them to senior investigators from other institutions, and facilitate the establishment of a national peer group. Dr. Jawish and Dr. Lewis will travel to Miami Beach, Florida at the end of May to attend the ASCP Annual Meeting and meet with their mentors.

About Rana Jawish, MD

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Rana Jawish, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Huntsman Mental Health Institute and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine. She is board-certified in psychiatry and board-eligible in addiction psychiatry with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. 

Clinically, Dr. Jawish is focused on improving women’s mental health and expanding access to mental health care for pregnant women experiencing substance use and/or mood disorders. She is also interested in identifying the barriers and factors that this underserved, vulnerable, and understudied patient population face when seeking care.

As a researcher, she finds herself at the intersection of addiction medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and interventional neuromodulation. She endeavors to advance innovative neuromodulation modalities, like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), for the treatment of perinatal substance use and mood disorders. More specifically, she is focused on developing a breakthrough treatment to address the ongoing epidemic of methamphetamine use disorder as well as to improve morbidity and mortality in pregnant women with methamphetamine use disorder and mood disorder.

Because of her clinical and research efforts, she was recently named a member of the University of Utah's Vice President's Clinical and Translational (VPCAT) research scholars program. The VPCAT is an intensive mentorship program designed to support early-stage clinical and translational researchers transition to accomplished, funded principal investigators.

Benjamin Lewis, MD

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Benjamin Lewis, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. He completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University studying English and Philosophy and received his medical degree at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Dr. Lewis completed his residency in adult psychiatry at the University of Utah. 

Dr. Lewis' clinical work focuses on adult inpatient psychiatry as well as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. He is currently the clinical director of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Clinic in Park City, Utah.  

His research primarily focuses on psychedelic-assisted therapies and strategies to increase access and scalability with group-based interventions. He is also interested in the overlap of psychedelic interventions and mindfulness training and practice. Dr. Lewis is the principal investigator on two current clinical trials. One clinical trial is investigating group psilocybin-assisted therapy in combination with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to address burnout and depression in frontline healthcare providers. The other clinical trial is exploring the use of ketamine-assisted therapy in patients dealing with existential distress associated with non-operable gastrointestinal cancers.