About Us : Message from the Chair

July 2011

More than six months have elapsed since my last message to you and much has transpired during this time. The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is a very busy place, indeed.

We have achieved several important milestones. Our new psychiatry residency class, expanded from 10 to 12, arrived a few weeks ago, an outstanding group from medical schools throughout the United States, together with two new PGY2 residents and a host of new fellows in child/adolescent, psychosomatic medicine, forensic, addiction and geriatric psychiatry (New PGY1 Residency Class and Fellows) . They are a very bright, industrious and enthusiastic group. I have enjoyed beginning to get to know them and delighted that our two new chief residents, Kathleen “Molly” McShane, M.D. and Ernesto Grenier, M.D., have stepped up into their leadership roles. We are just beginning the process of recruiting for next year’s PGY1 class and will again expand our PGY1 residency class size to 13. Taking the lead is our new Vice Chairman for Education and Adult Residency Training Director, Radu Saveanu, M.D., formerly Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Ohio State University School of Medicine, who we were delighted to persuade to join the faculty succeeding Richard Steinbook, M.D. who has chosen to move to part-time faculty status after 35 years as Residency Director.

A number of successful new faculty recruits have joined the department. These include: (1) John Newcomer, M.D., formerly Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis and a world renowned expert on the metabolic syndrome as a consequence of atypical antipsychotic drug use, as Miller Professor of Psychiatry and Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research; (2) Jonathan Sherin, M.D., Ph.D. from UCLA, as Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) and Professor of Psychiatry. He is an expert in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and in mental health service delivery for veterans; (3) Claes Wahlestedt, M.D., Ph.D. from the Scripps Institute as Miller Professor and Associate Dean for Therapeutic Innovation together with his entire team of junior faculty (Shaun Brothers, Ph.D., Nagi Ayad, Ph.D., Jose Silva, M.D., Ph.D., Mohammad Ali Faghihi, M.D., Ph.D.). This group is conducting groundbreaking research in the molecular neurobiology of Alzheimer’s disease, substance abuse, mood disorders and other psychiatric illnesses; (4) Martha Kato, M.D., returns to the UM faculty. Trained in internal medicine and psychiatry, she will be providing clinical services to patients in Boca Raton and West Palm; (5) Dante Durand, M.D. joins us from the University of Florida as an inpatient attending at Jackson Memorial Hospital (JMH); (6) Martin Strassnig, M.D., Assistant Professor, joins us from the University of Toronto to serve as Chief of our Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) service at the University of Miami Hospital (UMH) and as an inpatient attending; (7) Lauren Ozbolt, M.D., a graduating child/adolescent fellow will remain on the faculty as Chief of our newly created Eating Disorders Program (see below).

We are rapidly expanding clinical services provided by the Department. These new programs include inpatient med-psych and eating disorders units at UMH. The former will be jointly run by the Department of Medicine and Psychiatry and will be the only such inpatient facility for patients with comorbid medical and psychiatric disorders in South Florida. The new Eating Disorders Program led by Lauren Ozbolt, M.D. will have both inpatient and outpatient components. Additional faculty recruits in Child Psychiatry and in Consultation Liaison Psychiatry are ongoing. We are markedly expanding our services to cancer patients with the recruitment of several new psychiatrists and psychologists to the Courtelis Center in the Sylvester Cancer Center, led by Beatriz Currier, M.D., Associate Professor, Director of the Center and Chief of the Division of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry.

Our Comprehensive Diagnostic and Treatment Evaluations Program, in which treatment resistant patients are seen by five or more faculty and a consensus diagnostic and treatment recommendations is generated, has been a resounding success with referrals from throughout the United States and internationally as well (brochure).

We have experienced a record number of UM Medical Students choosing psychiatry as their career goal and much of this is due to the remarkable leadership of Ana Campo, M.D., Associate Dean and Director of Medical Student Education in the Department.

We are delighted to have finalized an outstanding Grand Rounds schedule for the upcoming year with many of the leaders of psychiatry visiting the department (Grand Rounds schedule). We are in the process of exploring various ways to broadcast these outstanding presentations to our colleagues at the VAMC and to community physicians as well.

The Center on Aging, now an integral component of the Department, is thriving and the Memory Disorders Clinic, a joint venture of the Departments of Neurology, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is very active and a fabulous training site for our geriatric psychiatry fellows. Dr. Sara Czaja is the Scientific Director and she is markedly expanding the Center’s research scope. Carl Eisdorfer, M.D., Ph.D., former Chairman of the Department and Director of the Center on Aging, retired from the Department on June 30, 2011. We are holding a festschrift to celebrate his remarkable career on November 4, 2011 and hope all previous trainees and faculty can join us for this festive occasion.

Finally, in terms of research, the Department is a veritable rocket with a marked increase in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants received, as well as grant submission. From its ranking of 47 among Departments of Psychiatry nationwide only two years ago, we have now risen to 31 in the United States, a remarkable leap of 16 positions considering the relatively short time that has elapsed to reach this goal. We anticipate climbing further in the ranking in the years ahead. I am very grateful to all who have contributed to the Department’s latest successes.

Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D.
Leonard M. Miller Professor and Chairman
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine