The research track was developed within the general residency program to attract physicians to research and provide training that enables them to eventually become independent investigators. Research education begins early and continues throughout residency training. This extended period of training provides multiple opportunities to acquire research skills, take didactic courses related to research, formulate research hypotheses, collect, analyze, and publish data, and learn grantsmanship skills.

Trainees interested in research decide to commit to the research track by January of the PGY-1 year through an application and letter of interest. The Vice Chair for Research helps those selected choose a mentor in the PGY-2 year. This mentor then shepherds the resident through the rest of the residency, providing research training in the context of his or her lab and ongoing projects. Half a day per week is set aside in the second year to begin reviewing relevant literature and writing a proposal. The full PGY-3 year is devoted to research, permitting immersion in the mentor's lab, and development and execution of a project. In the PGY-4 year, the resident returns to clinical training, but a half-day per week can be used to complete the research project and publish data. Additional time during the fourth year for research may come from elective experiences. There is flexibility in reversing the order of the third and fourth years of training.


PGY-1:  Internship year (not time committed to research)

  • Commit to research track by January.  Submit a letter of intent to the Training and Education Committee and the Research Advisory Committee.
  • Identify a general advisor to mentor/oversee the process.

PGY-2:  Half day per week for research

  • Visit labs, observe research, meet with potential mentors
  • Find and establish a research mentor, literature review, project design
  • Submit Institutional Review Board proposal
  • Take departmental course on research design for all residents

PGY-3:  Full year of research

  • Summer intensive class: Clinical Epidemiology and Study Design
  • Other seminars in the K-30 Mentored Clinical Research Training Program series
  • Didactics related to particular project (optional)
  • $10,000 in support to supplement mentor’s resources (for research-related travel, additional research costs, etc.)

PGY-4:  Half day per week to finish project (or use elective)

  • Interchangeable with PGY-3

A clinical and translational research focus

Courses on many topics relevant to clinical and translational research are offered at UC Davis, including research design, biostatistics, database management, ethics, fiscal and protocol compliance, grant writing, career development, and academic-industry partnerships. Services provided through the Clinical and Translational Science Center include support in grant writing, research design, fiscal and protocol compliance, and data management in the conduct of clinical and translational research. All residents attend the weekly Department of Psychiatry grand rounds. For trainees interested in developmental disabilities, there are weekly research seminars on neurodevelopmental disorders available through the  UC Davis M.I.N.D Institute T32 training grant. Formal postdoctoral fellowships to follow residency training are also available through the M.I.N.D. Institute T32.

Each resident is closely mentored by a senior researcher in the Department of Psychiatry. Residents are immersed in the laboratory of their mentor and provided with the resources and supervision needed to carry out an independent research project. Research opportunities have a strong translational focus, with relevance to clinical problems and patient care. Current faculty research in the department falls in the following areas:      

  • Addiction disorders
  • Aging and mental health 
  • Anxiety disorders     
  • Autism and developmental disorders
  • Child Psychiatry Cognitive and affective neuroscience
  • Cultural psychiatry
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Mental health services
  • Neuroimaging                    
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Schizophrenia and related disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Telepsychiatry
  • Virtual simulation environments

Questions about our research track

For questions about the research track of the general psychiatry residency program, please contact Tara Niendam, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chair for Research at