About Us : Message from the Chair

July 2016

I am delighted to report on the many exciting initiatives and activities that are ongoing here in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. As I begin my 8th year as chairman of the department at the end of this year, there is much to be proud of in terms of recent accomplishments, but even more to look forward to in the year ahead. First, we welcome four fabulous new faculty members to the Department. They include Barbara Coffey, M.D., our new Division Chief in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, who we were delighted to recruit from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. A world expert in Tourette’s Syndrome, tic disorder, and autism, she brings a record of an accomplished and world-renowned researcher, educator, and clinician. We are very grateful to Jon Shaw, M.D., for all of his contributions who is stepping down as Division Head after many years in this role. Drs. Rachel Zeichner and Elisa Diaz are two psychologists who trained here at the University of Miami. Dr. Zeichner returns to UM after a fellowship at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. She will be working largely at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, led by our Chief of Psychiatric Oncology, Dr. William Pirl (read more about him on p.4) Dr. Diaz will work closely with Dr. Marisa Echenique evaluating and treating patients with comorbid medical disorders including HIV and organ transplant candidates. Finally, Luca Pani, M.D., a well-known expert in clinical research joins us from Italy to lead our efforts in this important area. In addition, several other major faculty recruits are in progress. Stay tuned!

Second is news of the expansion of our clinical services. We have partnered with Acadia Healthcare to build a new freestanding, state-of-the-art psychiatric facility in Miami-Dade County. The campus will provide access to the full continuum of behavioral health services, including 100+ inpatient beds, a day treatment program, and outpatient offices.

Our application for a Certificate of Need (CON) for the facility has been preliminarily approved by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) This will be a site for psychiatry residency and medical student education, as well as research. The new campus will not detract from our critically important relationship with the Jackson Behavioral Health Hospital (JBHH). Speaking of JBHH, we were delighted with the appointment of Kevin Andrews as the new CEO and together with Patricia Ares-Romero, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, we are working hard to strengthen the relationship with our longstanding partners. I anticipate a much closer relationship with JBHH moving forward.

We have just welcomed our 16 new PGY-1 residents to the Department. What a remarkable and diverse group, equal in size to the largest psychiatry residency classes in the nation. We also welcome a new group of fellows – in psychosomatic medicine, child psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry and forensic psychiatry.

Space constraints preclude a detailed description of the state of research in the department but we continue making significant progress in improving our ranking in NIH standing; several faculty have been the recipients of new NIH grants including Drs. Czaja, Brothers, Ayad, Salloum and myself and others have received favorable scores ready for funding.

We continue to be supported by our wonderful External Advisory Board (EAB). After five devoted years, Harley Tropin has stepped down as Co-Chair and will resume his position as a founding member of the EAB. We could not be more grateful for his leadership. Co-Chair Susan Racher will help with the transition. We are delighted that Alfredo Frohlich has agreed to take the reins as Chair – once again, he will host our Annual Golf Tournament at Turnberry Isle on October 27, 2017. For everything you need to know, visit GolfUMPsych.com.

Thanks to the tremendous success of last year’s Inaugural Golf Tournament, we have been able to fund an Interactive Screening Program on the medical school campus. Set to launch later this summer, the program’s goal is to prevent suicides on campus by identifying students who may benefit from the help of a mental health professional. It is completely anonymous, a unique and helpful tool to keeping our UM community safe and healthy.

Finally, we welcome our new Dean of the Miller School of Medicine, Edward Abraham, M.D. who joins us from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. We look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.

Best wishes to all of you for a healthy and happy summertime.