For her years of work in the field of cognitive remediation, Kathryn Eve Lewandowski, PhD, will be recognized with the 2018 Science to Practice Award. Created in 2013, the award is given annually to “individuals who have done exemplary work taking cognitive remediation from the research lab to the clinical practice setting.” Lewandowski, director of clinical programming for the McLean OnTrackTM first-episode psychotic disorder clinic and an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, will receive her award at the annual Cognitive Remediation in Psychiatry conference, to be held in New York City on June 8, 2018.
Cognitive remediation—a form of treatment in which individuals engage in exercises to improve brain functions such as attention and memory—has been the focus of Lewandowski’s work for more than 10 years. Between 2011 and 2016, she and her McLean colleagues ran a highly successful clinical trial in cognitive remediation. “We were excited to contribute to a growing literature on cognitive remediation as an effective intervention for helping people with cognitive issues and psychotic disorders,” explained Lewandowski. “But we were concerned that there were no real clinical programs in our area that would allow patients to access the treatment in a clinical setting.”
Faced with this problem, Lewandowski set out to find ways to translate the research intervention into clinical practice. She collaborated with her team at McLean OnTrack, a long-term outpatient program for adults 18 to 30 that specializes in the early recognition and treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar spectrum disorders and related conditions. She also worked with staff at the software firm Posit Science, creators of online brain-training tools, and Alice Medalia, PhD, a leader in cognitive remediation research at Columbia University. Ultimately, this collaboration led to the creation of a cognitive remediation clinical service at McLean.
Now, Lewandowski hopes to use her experience and expertise to bring the service to more and more individuals in need. “The next step is to evaluate the service’s different needs, barriers, and challenges and make modifications to make it more effective in the real world,” she said. She added that she would like to work with first-episode programs across Massachusetts “to see how we can develop services, training, and infrastructure for cognitive remediation on a larger scale.”
Lewandowski earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas, graduated from the University of North Carolina with a PhD in clinical psychology, and completed her psychology internship and post-doctoral work at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School.