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Our Story

Founded in 2018

Founded in 2018, the Pennsylvania Early Intervention Center/HeadsUp, located at the University of Pennsylvania, serves as a robust hub for mental healthcare advocates, clinicians and centers across Pennsylvania on the frontlines of education, treatment and de-stigmatization of early psychosis.


About HeadsUp

Starting in 2008, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) funded a large-scale, research initiative highlighting and promoting the importance of early intervention for psychosis and the efficacy of the Coordinated Specialty Care model for early psychosis treatment.

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In response to this exciting research, specialized First Episode Psychosis centers were created with support of the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Pennsylvania in 2015. With the goal of supporting these existing centers as well as enabling pathways to expand statewide FEP resources, Irene Hurford, MD, began the Pennsylvania Early Intervention Center in 2018, evolving into HeadsUp in 2019 under the leadership of Christian Kohler, MD and Monica Calkins, PhD.

Funding for HeadsUp is also provided through a Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). MHBG funding and the support of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) has opened up pathways to build upon Pennsylvania’s First Episode Psychosis support and treatment successes.

While HeadsUp does not offer clinical care, our work helps to support and expand the care provided by the FEP centers across Pennsylvania and with collaborating states, increases awareness of early psychosis, and de-stigmatizes discussions of mental health.


We aim to replace prejudice and discrimination with affirming attitudes and positive outcomes through support of our Pennsylvania First Episode Psychosis centers and the Coordinated Specialty Care model of treatment. Our role is to empower people experiencing early psychosis to take control of their treatment and, in turn, their lives.

HeadsUp Steering Committee

In order to facilitate a collaborative learning health care system across the First Episode Psychosis (FEP) / Clinical High Risk (CHR) network in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, HeadsUp maintains a robust Steering Committee consisting of representatives of a diverse set of stakeholders including administrators, clinical staff, participants/patients, families, HeadsUp directors, and mental health advocacy groups.

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The goals of our Steering Committee include:

  • Provide direction and guidance for HeadsUp by identifying and framing issues for
    discussion and policy
  • Strengthen the PA FEP/CHR network by promoting a learning collaborative framework
    that actively and iteratively assesses actions of the overall program, and whether it
    continues to fulfill goals for training, assessment, data management and sharing, and
    performance reporting across the network
  • Assess progress towards milestones and guide activities and adaptations
  • Engage in shared decision making with HeadsUp leadership and sites regarding program
    implementation and training, changes in data collection protocols, and authorship
  • Collaborate in development of the network’s recruitment and outreach plan, including
    reviewing outreach materials for cultural and linguistic competency
  • Ensure that the HeadsUp team and PA sites are supported as the network grows
If you are interested in learning more about our Steering Committee please email:

Current Employment Opportunities

PEIC Research Administrative Coordinator (Dept. of Neuropsychiatry)

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Job Description Summary

This position coordinates research administrative activities in support of the Principal Investigator, Project Manager and other key stakeholders. May provide support for multi-year grant proposals and renewal process. Will coordinate data collection, quality control, storage and management. Maintains database for efficient information management and reporting. Participates in research team meetings to problem solve follow-up challenges with the intent to improve the quality of data obtained. Participates in reporting and dissemination activities related to research findings. Assists with manuscript preparation and dissemination of results. May also coordinate special research projects and meeting as needed. The research duties include telephone screening participants for study eligibility, communicating with PIs and study coordinators on potential study participants for study assignment, coordinating and conducting community outreach activities, ensuring data completeness, maintaining research files, providing information to participants regarding research protocols and procedures, data collection and data entry.




Meet Our Staff

Christian Kohler, MD

Co-Director, HeadsUp

Monica Calkins, PhD

Co-Director, HeadsUp

Daniel Wolf, MD, PhD

HeadsUp Telehealth Director

Catherine Conroy, MEd

HeadsUp Program Manager

Megan Westfall, MS

Data Analyst, HeadsUp

Emily Becker-Haimes, PhD

Fidelity Advisor

Crystal Vatza, MS

Education and Tele-Health Manager

Donna Bencivengo, MS

EPINET Clinical Research Coordinator

Meredith Jacoby

Outreach Coordinator

Christina Bell, BA

Research Administrative Coordinator

Aimee Kim, MSEd

Outreach & Clinical Support Specialist

HeadsUp Contributors

In addition to our staff members, here are some important contributors that support our mission:

Irene Hurford, MD

Aaron Brinen, PsyD

Fanghong Dong, PhD

First Episode Psychosis Centers in PA are Making a Difference*

Early Intervention in Psychiatry

91% decrease in participant hospital days


School enrollment increased by 85% in those over age 18


76% decrease in homelessness

*at 24-month follow-up