Newest faculty member is part of the EPINET project and its focus on early psychosis

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences welcomes its newest faculty member, Assistant Professor Lionel Wininger (pictured above), PhD. Dr. Wininger is an adult psychologist who was most recently Clinical Director of the OnTrackNY Program at Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. OnTrackNY is a multidisciplinary outpatient program serving adolescents and young adults with early psychosis.

At the U of M, Dr. Wininger is working with the Strengths Program at Riverside Clinic in Minneapolis as part of the EPINET (Early Psychosis Intervention Network) initiative. “I’ve been treating young people diagnosed with psychotic disorders for many years,” he said. “I’ve worked with patients and families who felt hopeless and have seen their hopelessness turn around. Some people even surprised themselves with what they were able to do.”

National collaboration
EPINET is a national collaboration; the University serves as a regional hub and clinical partner in the program. “It’s an opportunity for increasing our understanding of psychosis and its treatments, not to mention getting feedback from patients and their families,” said Dr. Wininger. “My research will incorporate that feedback to improve treatment.”

A lifelong New Yorker, he earned his PhD in clinical psychology at Long Island University in Brooklyn and his BA in psychology at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. In addition to his work with OnTrackNY, Dr. Wininger was a member of Montefiore Einstein Psychiatry Associates, where he provided individual psychotherapy to medical students, residents, and other hospital staff.

Excited to be at the U
Dr. Wininger is excited to be in the Twin Cities and part of the University of Minnesota. “The U has an amazing reputation for both research and clinical care,” he said. “The department is committed to advancing treatments for people experiencing psychotic symptoms, especially at the early stage.”

His new role will enable him to meld the worlds of research and clinical care. Dr. Wininger will provide support and training for the research team and later this year, begin seeing patients.

Dr. Wininger built his investigative skills as a research coordinator at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research in New York City, and as a research assistant at Long Island University and New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Increasing patient's quality of life
When treating patients, Dr. Wininger noted that his work in early psychosis has moved away from concentrating solely on symptom reduction to focus more on increasing the patient’s quality of life. “That often means helping them go to work, go to school, have meaningful activities in life, and have positive relationships,” he said. “What I like about the U of M’s approach is that they put individual resiliency at the center of treatment. Everyone I work with brings unique strengths to this challenging time in their life.”

When Dr. Wininger has some spare time, he enjoys weird music, fringe sports, and ‘90s Simpsons trivia.

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