The Vail Health Behavioral Health Innovation Center (BHIC) is a collaboration between Vail Health and University of Wisconsin-Madison. These leaders in the study of novel behavioral health interventions will use the Innovation Center to enhance behavioral health care for patients in Eagle County and beyond. Led by Director of the Vail Health Behavioral Health Innovation Center Dr. Charles Raison and with the support of a transformative donation from Mike and Mary Sue Shannon, Vail Health is committed to making the Innovation Center a world-class destination for behavioral health research, treatment and education.
The Vail Health Behavioral Health Innovation Center resembles academic medical centers and research universities. Collaborating with researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on initial studies focused on basic science and preclinical investigations, future collaborations are envisioned with other institutions.

Upcoming Lectures

Session 9 |  March 7, 2024  |  12:00 - 1:00PM MST  |  ZOOM (Online)
Leveraging Polyvagal Theory to Enhance the Treatment of Traumatized Patients: a Conversation with Dr. Stephen Porges

Presented by Dr. Stephen Porges & Dr. Charles Raison

As humans, we take for granted that—for better or worse—our lives are intimately entwined with those of others. Remember how off-putting the empty public spaces of Covid were, how unnatural, and how quickly we’ve rushed back to being packed together in so many of our activities? We should marvel at this ability because it came along late in the evolution of life in a world where most interactions involved eating, being eaten, or fighting to reproduce. How did we manage while becoming so dependent upon each other from the moment of our birth to the moment of our death?
Of all the theories that have addressed this question, none have been more impactful than Polyvagal Theory which explains how we evolved and provides explanations for why, and how, trauma—especially early in life—so often promotes depression, anxiety, and poor physical health.
Join Dr. Stephen Porges, creator of Polyvagal Theory, and Dr. Charles Raison, Director of the Vail Health Behavioral Innovation Center as they delve into the theory and examine the clinical implications of enhancing the care of patients with trauma histories. 


Lecture Series

Novel Approaches to Behavioral Health Innovation is a monthly lecture series offered through Vail Health Behavioral Health Innovation Center and University of Wisconsin-Madison. The series features innovative leaders in behavioral health treatment and research and offers continuing education credit for mental health professionals. We encourage anyone interested in the topics to participate and learn.


Past Lectures

Looking for past lecture details or want to watch a session again? 



Initially, three studies will be conducted:
  • CHILL'D Study (“Cold and Heat Investigation to Lower Levels of Depression”) will explore ways to optimize the proven benefits of hyperthermia for depression, including whether adding cold to heat will improve outcomes and whether hyperthermia can be effectively combined with standard antidepressants.  
  • The RECAP Follow-Up Study, which will be conducted at UW–Madison, will use model systems to develop and optimize neuroscience techniques for assessing the effects of psilocybin on the brain in context of mental health disorders. Results of this work will inform the subsequent OPT-IN Study.
  • The OPT-IN Study (Optimizing Psilocybin), which will be conducted at Vail Health BHIC, will examine novel ways to enhance the impact of psilocybin on depression and anxiety via co-administration of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation. It will also assess the impact of psilocybin on real-world social behavior and will use advanced strategies to better understand the risks and benefits of psilocybin use in a legalized setting, such as Colorado.

Innovation Center Leadership

Vail Health Behavioral Health Innovation Center Director Charles Raison, MD is a professor of human ecology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with appointments in the School of Medicine and Public Health and the School of Human Ecology. Dr. Raison’s research focuses on the examination of novel mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of major depression and other stress-related emotional and physical conditions. In pursuit of improved treatments for mental illness, Dr. Raison has taken a leadership role in developing and overseeing studies that—if positive—will support FDA approval of the psychedelic agent psilocybin as a novel treatment for major depression. Dr. Raison has been named one of the world’s most influential researchers by Web of Science, based on his work being cited approximately 30,000 times. He received the Raymond Pearl Memorial Award from the Human Biology Association “in recognition of his contributions to our understanding of evolutionary biocultural origins of mental health and illness.”
Program Administrator Christina J. Sauder oversees the administrative and regulatory aspects of Dr. Raison’s psychedelic studies at UW-Madison and collaborative whole body hyperthermia studies. She works with “on-the-ground” personnel in Vail to bring clinical operations and regulatory expertise to support psychedelic/consciousness research in Vail Health Behavioral Health Innovation Center-based studies.

Clinical Research Supervisor Chloe Sorensen manages the day-to-day operations of the OPT-IN and CHILL’D studies in Vail and is responsible for training members of the Vail Health research team on study protocols and procedures. Chloe also oversees patient recruitment and enrollment, data collection and management, the development of study materials and regulatory compliance. 

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