Who We Are

Methodology & Measurement Group

Who We Are

Prudence Fisher, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatric Social Work (in Psychiatry)

Prudence Fisher, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatric Social Work (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University and a research scientist at NYSPI. Dr. Fisher’s main research focus is on the development and testing of assessment measures for children and adolescents. She is widely acknowledged in the field as someone who is knowledgeable about assessment issues and actively collaborates with investigators at Columbia and many other institutions and consults with federal and state agencies. Dr. Fisher has been instrumental in the development of numerous versions of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC), the most widely used diagnostic interview for youth, and of many other widely used measures, including the Children’s Global Assessment Scale (CGAS), the Columbia Impairment Scale, and the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS). Dr. Fisher is principal investigator on a CDC–funded project to update the DISC for DSM-5 and on a effort funded by the NVLD Project to prepare an application to include NVLD in the future DSM updates. She is co-principal investigator on a protocol to develop, manualize, and test an equine-assisted therapy protocol for veterans with PTSD in collaboration with Yuval Neria, Ph.D., of the Veterans Center and the Anxiety Disorder Program, and works with the Global Mental Health Program to advise the WHO ICD-11 workgroup on implementation issues for the field studies, and she will co-lead one of these studies. She has developed an instrument to assess adverse events from psychotropic medications in adolescents (this is currently being written up) and consults with the PROMISE Program around methodological and measurement issues. Dr. Fisher provides open-door consultation around assessment and measurement issues to faculty and trainees, co-teaches the “Introduction to Research and Statistics” course to second-year CAP residents, and oversees their research electives.

J. Blake Turner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Social Science (in Psychiatry)

J. Blake Turner, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Social Science (in Psychiatry) in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University and a research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Turner has extensive research interests within both child and adolescent psychiatry and within social epidemiology. In child psychiatry, a major emphasis of his work has been the phenomenology of psychiatric disorders. He has held an R01 from the National Institute of Mental Health to examine alternative definitions of psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents. In concert with this project, he served as an advisor to the DSM-5 workgroups for child and adolescent disorders and ADHD and disruptive disorders. More recently, he has been researching trajectories of neurodevelopmental disorders in a low-birth-weight/pre-term cohort. He has also examined phenotypic variation in ASD children in this same cohort, as well as in the Simons Simplex data set.

In social epidemiology, he has published extensively on the physical and mental health effects of social stressors, on measurement issues in the assessment of stress over the life course, and on PTSD and other psychiatric sequelae of exposure to combat in military veterans.

Dr. Turner has considerable expertise in research methods and quantitative data analysis. A portion of his current position involves serving as an “in-house” consulting methodologist for the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and he regularly mentors junior faculty and research fellows in this capacity.  He currently co-teaches a research-methods course to second-year CAP residents.

David Shaffer, M.D.
Irving Phillips Professor of Child Psychiatry; Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Shaffer has a longstanding interest in developing new diagnostic instruments for children and adolescents.

He was the lead investigator in developing the Children's Global Assessment Scale (C-GAS). Dr. Shaffer has led a team of colleagues and investigators in developing and modifying the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC) and, more recently, the Columbia Teen Screen. The computerized DISC was initially developed as a means of assigning a diagnosis in large-scale surveys, but has subsequently shown its value in settings where diagnosticians are few and far between and as an aid to diagnosis to clinicians.

He conducted his first research on the topic of teen suicide when he was still a trainee. That study suggested the importance of imitative suicide and the occurrence of suicide clusters in young people. It was also the first study to demonstrate the association between suicide and aggressive behavior. His later work confirmed that most teen suicides occur in the context of a psychiatric illness and highlighted the importance of alcohol and substance abuse as additional risk factors for suicide in older male teens.

He and his colleagues subsequently showed that a purely didactic approach to suicide prevention offered no benefits and was not without risk. He has been a strong proponent of suicide prevention through screening for, and early identification of, the disorders that predispose to suicide.

Dr. Shaffer has received numerous honors and awards, including the American Foundations for Suicide Prevention's Award for Research in Suicide and its Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also been honored with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's Irving Philips Award for Prevention, the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation Award for Research in Depression or Suicide, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation's Ruane Prize for Psychiatric Research, the Joseph Zubin Award from the American Psychopathological Association, and the Agnes Purcell McGavin Award for Distinguished Career Achievement in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Jazmin A. Reyes-Portillo, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology (in Psychiatry)

Dr. Jazmin Reyes-Portillo is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology (in Psychiatry) in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Reyes-Portillo obtained her BA in psychology from Wellesley College and her PhD in clinical psychology from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. After completing her predoctoral internship at Columbia University Medical Center (Child Track), Dr. Reyes-Portillo was awarded the Sallie Foundation Child and Adolescent Mental Health Technology Program Postdoctoral Fellowship at Columbia University. This fellowship provided research opportunities in the emerging field of using digital technology to improve outcomes for depressed, anxious, and suicidal youth.

Dr. Reyes-Portillo’s program of research focuses on the use of digital health technology to reduce health disparities among racial/ethnic minority youth suffering from depression and suicidality. She is specifically interested in using digital health technology to increase youth engagement in mental health treatment and increase the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices in school and community settings. Dr. Reyes-Portillo is also interested in applying multilevel modeling techniques to examine mediators and moderators of treatment.

Jennifer Garraway

Jennifer Garraway, BA

Jennifer Garraway received her BA in psychology and sociology from Hunter College—City University of New York. There she worked as a research assistant in Hunter’s Visual Psychophysiology Lab studying whether veterans suffering from posttraumatic-stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) have impaired lateral inhibition to visual stimuli. While interning at Lenox Hill Hospital’s inpatient psychiatric unit, she supported the art therapist and developed and facilitated her own therapy group. Additionally, she interned at Samaritan Village—Residential Treatment Center for Veterans assisting social workers and intake officers by administering assessments that determined admission appropriateness and suitability for employment, training, and shelter assistance.

Upon graduating, she received an International Neuroscience Post Baccalaureate Fellowship from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. There she studied excessive ethanol exposure and induced withdrawal using the nematode C. elegan. She received research fellowships from the University of Illinois in 2013, Brown University in 2013, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013, and Vanderbilt University in 2012. These fellowships afforded her the opportunity to study fear and emotional response in participants suffering from addiction to drugs and alcohol (Brown University), glutamate uptake using rat neonate astrocytes, and heavy-metal absorption in Desert Storm soldiers (Vanderbilt University). She was also awarded the Charlotte W. Newcombe Scholarship in 2012, the Philip and Aida Siff Educational Foundation Scholarship in 2013, and the prestigious Livingston Welch Research Award in Psychology in 2014.

The last two years, she has been working in a dual role at the New York State Psychiatric Institute: as a research assistant to the esteemed child psychiatrist Dr. David Shaffer and as a senior research worker with Drs. Prudence Fisher and Yuval Neria on a research project studying the efficacy of equine-assisted therapy (EAT) and its ability to lessen the symptoms that are attributed to PTSD in veterans.