Liz Arnold, PhD,  LCSW, is a new faculty member who brings years of experience as a behavioral intervention researcher. She recently joined the University of Kentucky College of Medicine faculty and is prepared to use her expertise to help bolster its clinical research enterprise.

Dr. Arnold’s work focuses on behavioral health as it intersects with suicide risk, HIV, and substance use disorders. In February, she started her new role as professor and director of research in the College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, where she leads the department’s research and provides clinical care.

Dr. Arnold’s first major project at UK is a project that she began as vice chair of research in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She is the principal investigator of a $5.4 million study supported by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). It’s the country’s first study of brief suicide prevention interventions for LGBTQ+ young adults. It will last through 2027 and compare the effectiveness of two adapted evidence-based interventions that were originally used with younger youth.

“Our hope is to help support LGBTQ+ youth being treated in primary care clinics by identifying individuals at increased risk for suicide and connecting them with mental health services,” she said.

In addition, Dr. Arnold’s substantial body of research includes recently leading one of three studies as part of a $20 million grant from the Adolescent Trials Network to UCLA that was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Through this project, she worked with researchers at UCLA to implement and study a comprehensive, community-based strategy to improve HIV prevention and treatment for youth with HIV or at high risk of infection.

She has also served for two years as a project co-lead for evaluation for TransFORWARD, a PCORI-funded project through Texas Health Institute in Austin to build a statewide collaborative and address the long-term effects of COVID-19 on transgender and gender-diverse individuals in Texas.

“Clinical research is incredibly important in advancing psychiatric care,” said Seth Himelhoch, MD, MPH, chair of psychiatry. “With her wealth of experience and attentiveness to important health care issues, Dr. Arnold will be an asset for our department as we aim to expand our clinical research enterprise.”

Dr. Arnold has spent most of her career in psychiatry and academic health care and has been an advocate for effective treatments for those experiencing mental health disorders. After five years in primary care, she was eager to return to psychiatry, adding, “my passion is behavioral health and doing research that improves the treatments that we provide to help people.” In recognition of her advocacy around mental health, Dr. Arnold was awarded the Steve Jordan Award by the North Carolina Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in 2014.

Her goal is to increase clinical research in the UK College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, a mission she hopes to achieve by building institutional and community partnerships and forging cross-departmental collaborations.