November 12, 2020
MUSC Psychiatry Chair Update

Thomas W. Uhde, M.D.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Institute of Psychiatry
Did you know research shows sucrose and cocaine provoke responses from different groups of neurons?
The brain is keenly attuned to rewards in the natural environment, forming neural ensembles that light up when cued to think about food, sugar or other necessities for survival. But that same process can take a dark turn when the brain learns to recognize and then seek out illicit drugs like cocaine.

A team at the Medical University of South Carolina has shown that it isn’t the same neural ensemble indiscriminately responding to either cocaine or sucrose but that different ensembles develop to respond to each of those potential rewards. And those ensembles not only light up when directly presented with the reward, but they also light up when presented with a cue that’s become associated with the reward.

Ana Clara Bobadilla, Ph.D., now an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming, conducted the research while completing her postdoctoral work in the lab of Peter Kalivas, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor at MUSC. It was published in Molecular Psychiatry in September. She said the experiment points the way to new questions, like how specific cells are recruited into networks that respond to sucrose or to cocaine.

“If we can understand that, then we can also try to find a mechanism to prevent a cell from being recruited. So if you think about it in the long term, you could make the response to cocaine less strong because you make the network less strong,” she said.

“The fact that they are different networks is actually very encouraging,” she continued, “because it means you could specifically try to diminish the network that responds to cocaine without diminishing the network that responds to food or other natural rewards, which are very important for survival.”

Dr. Allison Wilkerson was recently interviewed for USA Today regarding the use of light therapy lamps to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The full article can be accessed here.
Dr. Melissa Milanak recently presented for the African CDC to the entire continent of Africa and parts of Europe about "Sleep in the Time of COVID-19: Practical Tips for Improving & Optimizing Sleep." It was simultaneously translated and offered virtually throughout all African countries.
Congratulations to Anne Goliver on winning the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses! This award recognizes one nursing leader per year for their commitment to excellence and compassion, going above and beyond in patient care. Anne was chosen among MANY applications and this is a huge honor. Congratulations, Anne!
Meg Wallace's MUSC Public Radio interview on Training Providers in Telemental Health Therapy during the pandemic is being broadcast statewide on SC Public Radio this week.

The interview will air today at 4:44 pm during the All Things Considered show and will also be available 24/7 as a podcast on the SC Public Radio website:
Congratulations to the MUSC Psychiatry Out of the Darkness Team! 

The Charleston Area Out of the Darkness Experience, benefiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), held their virtual walk on Sunday. As of Sunday, the MUSC Psychiatry Team is currently in FIRST place for fundraising efforts for the event, with $1,035.00 raised so far. While the virtual walk is complete, fundraising for this cause goes until 12/31/2020. 

To continue to fundraise for the MUSC Psychiatry team, go to: and click "Roster" to donate or "Join the Team" to start your own fundraising efforts! 

The official TOP Fundraiser for the year will be announced at next year's event in October! 
For anyone who is requesting promotion or tenure effective January 1, 2022, all promotion and tenure requests must be received in the Chair’s office no later than February 4, 2021, in the form of complete packets accompanied by a letter of recommendation from your Division Director. Packets with checklists, requests for materials, and forms specific for regular and modified faculty have been developed to make the submission process more straightforward. Packets are available on the College of Medicine’s website. Follow this link:

Promotion to Associate Professor or Professor requires a minimum of four letters of recommendation, addressed to the Departmental Chair. Individuals selected to write the minimum four letters should be non-MUSC faculty in the candidate’s field at the academic rank of professor or its equivalent stature. At least two of these individuals should not be associated with the candidate by having been past mentors/teachers/students/trainees. We ask that you provide 4-6 names of individuals that we can contact to solicit letters of recommendation.  

The letter of recommendation from your Division Director must follow appendix 2 in the COM APT guidelines. Division Director letters should include the following paragraphs: introductory, education, research if applicable, scholarly publications, clinical practice if applicable, administration, and other activities and accomplishments. 

If you have any questions, please contact Kristen Mulholland at [email protected]

Researcher: Mark George, M.D.
PRO Number: pro00101270

The purpose of the research is to test out a new form of treatment where we stimulate a nerve in your ear. This is called transcutaneous (through the skin) auricular (ear) vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) which means that you will receive stimulation through the ear. The taVNS device looks like an ear bud you would use with your smart phone or computer. We are investigating whether or not taVNS can treat neurologic symptoms of COVID-19 which are termed NEUROCOVID. Some symptoms you may experience are new onset anxiety, depression, vertigo, loss of smell, headaches, fatigue, irritability, etc. This study is entirely online and all assessments will be completed virtually.

Recruitment Contact
Sarah Huffman
Effective November 2, 2020, federal rules will require the immediate release of patient health information to MyChart as outlined below.

To be compliant with the updated regulations, we are required to allow patients immediate electronic access to their medical information, within the confines of state and federal regulation, such as HIPAA. This applies to both Ambulatory and Inpatient patient information.

The goal of the regulation is to allow patients the right of access to their chart while supporting patient privacy and security. The list of required data elements to be shared with patients will increase over time. The current list of required information to be shared is here.

Please see the calendar below for a list of diversity & inclusion offerings from the Office of Training and Intercultural Education.

Psychiatry Administration

ICCE Chief (UNIV, Full-Time): The Chief of the Mental Health Integrated Center for Clinical Excellence reports to the Chief Physician Executive of MUSC Health and works in close collaboration with other MUSC Health leaders including the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer. As Vice Chair, this position also reports to the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. The ICCE Chief is expected to provide at least 75 percent administrative time in the role devoted to strategic leadership and administrative activities.

Addiction Sciences Division

Open Rank/Assistant Professor (UNIV, Full-Time): The successful applicant for this position will have either an MD or a PhD degree and will be expected to have an established and independent research program that will interface with the multidisciplinary NIAAA P50 Charleston Alcohol Research Center at MUSC. 

Open Rank/Professor (UNIV, Full-Time): The successful applicant for this position will have either an MD or a PhD degree and will be expected to have an established and independent research program that will interface with the multidisciplinary NIAAA P50 Charleston Alcohol Research Center at MUSC.

Psychiatry Hospitalist Division

Open Rank - Psychiatry (UNIV, Full-Time): Candidate must be a psychiatrist with the ability to hold an unrestricted license to practice in South Carolina. The candidate must be board-eligible or board-certified if having completed residency training greater than five years ago. Candidate will be a member of the Psychiatry Hospitalist Division and provide inpatient care on a general adult psychiatry unit and provide coverage across other inpatient areas as needed. Candidate will provide care as a Consult Liaison, and have research coverage. *Note: This position is coded under an ECT identifier through Human Resources; however, it is not ECT for doctors. This position is for the Psychiatry Hospitalist Division.


Addiction Sciences Division

Program Assistant (UNIV, Full-Time): The candidate will serve as the primary assistant on a federally-funded randomized controlled trial among U.S. military Veterans with PTSD and alcohol use disorder. The candidate will assist the study team in the recruitment of research participants, weekly appointment reminders, the collection of psychological research data, preparing weekly reports, maintaining research supplies, data entry and organizational tasks for studies being conducted in the Department of Psychiatry/Addiction Sciences Division, and performing other duties as assigned. The candidate will work on research studies which focus on the study of and development of interventions for PTSD and Addiction.

Program Coordinator I (UNIV, Full-Time): The candidate will provide technical and professional research services in the Addiction Sciences Division of MUSC. This position is for an employee who is capable of performing the full range of professional duties in their assigned program area. The applicant will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day aspects of a federally-funded randomized controlled trial among U.S. military Veterans with PTSD and alcohol use disorder. The applicant will assist with all aspects of the trial, including participant recruitment, clinical interviews, data collection and management, data quality control, dissemination of findings, and performing other duties as assigned.

Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Division

Social Worker (MUSCP, Full-Time): This position is for a licensed independent social worker (LISW-CP) who will be working in a team environment in the Outpatient Clinic of the Child and Adolescent Division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services at the Medical University of South Carolina. Specific responsibilities include interviewing clients and or families; developing and discussing proposed treatment plans with the client and detailing the recommendations and the reasoning for them; monitoring and documenting the progress of clients, and making service treatment plan adjustments as necessary.

Psychiatry Hospitalist Division

Advanced Practice Provider (APP - NP/PA) (MUSCP, Part-Time): Part-time (20 hours per week) APRN/PA working in the Emergency Department in a collaborative role with the ED providers to assist in the triage and management of psychiatric patients who present to the MUSC ED, under the supervision/collaboration of a psychiatrist. Will work as part of a multidisciplinary team and work with a team of ED based psychiatrists as part of the Mental Health ICCE, within the Department of Psychiatry. Currently eligible or licensed as an Advanced Practice Nurse in the state of SC or Licensed (or certification eligible) as a Physician Assistant by the National Board of Medical Examiners or the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Requires certification in Basic Life Support.
All MUHA and MUSCP employees as well as clinical providers (physicians, residents, fellows, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers, etc.) are required to have flu shots or have completed the declination by December 14. Please remember that, if you receive your flu shot outside of the MUSC system, you will need to upload documentation to the system. For additional information on where to receive the shot or upload documentation, please see the link below.

This is an important reminder to the research community of the requirements to follow the latest University Directives for MUSC Faculty, Staff and Students for Staying Safe (some information updated as of 9/16). To clarify, these directives supersede recommendations issued to research teams in May 2020 for the incremental reactivation of research, including wearing masks indoors even when social distancing is possible. These requirements can be reviewed via the link above. We also urge you to review MUSC’s Academic Plans for Fall 2020.
Please join Microsoft Learning Consultant Andrea on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and again at 4 p.m. to learn how to use Microsoft Teams. Click the link here to join. 

Can’t join at that time? All the materials and recordings will be available to access any time after the session if you are unable to attend. 

Please visit for additional self-help information.  
Among its myriad impacts, COVID-19, compelled organizations worldwide, our enterprise included, to pivot almost entirely to remote meetings and events. As a result, MUSC senior leadership asked Information Solutions (IS) to recommend a meetings and events solution for the entire enterprise. After thorough evaluation, including surveys and interviews with stakeholders, IS recommended that MUSC adopt Microsoft Teams as the single enterprise platform for remote business connectivity. The MUSC senior leadership team concurred with the IS recommendation, noting that Microsoft Teams will simplify the remote meeting experience, reduce the complexity of using multiple systems and focus our supportive resources.

Over the next few months, multiple enhancements will be made to MS Teams, including call-in functionality that will make it our premier solution for meetings and events. IS professionals will work with MUSC team members to increase your comfort level with MS Teams as it replaces Skype and WebEx as the enterprise solution in December. More information and education will follow. Please visit to get started. 

Currently, MS Teams is available on your computer, tablet or smartphone. IS will roll out the new enhancements to you automatically as they become available.

Anyone who needs assistance with meetings or other requirements, please feel free to reach out to [email protected].
SCTR and the College of Medicine announce an RFA for the COM Clinician Scientist K12 program, which provides mentored, protected research experiences to enhance the development and retention of early career physician scientist investigators. The goal of the program is to increase clinical and translational research capacity through the training of junior faculty to help drive research independence. This funding opportunity is open to junior faculty in the College of Medicine who hold an MD, DO, or MD/PhD (or foreign equivalent) and requires 40% full-time professional effort.

Application Deadline: November 30, 2020 @ 5:00 PM

Funding opportunity announcement:

A call for applications for the SCORE Career Enhancement Core Scholar Program has been issued. Interested junior faculty members should submit their application no later than 5:00 PM on Friday, December 4th. Interested candidates who plan on applying should provide a Letter of Intent no later than Monday, November 2nd. Please direct this and any questions regarding this career development award or the application process to Amanda Wagner, at [email protected].

The full RFA including an application link can be found at:
2020-2021 GRAND ROUNDS
The following resource provides MUSC Health lab and testing options pertaining to COVID-19. Included on this page is information regarding drive-thru and “pop-up” mobile COVID testing locations, antibody or serology tests, drive-in lab and nurse visits, and original/classic lab testing.

In addition to updates provided by MUSC Enterprise, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences will also provide updates through our employee intranet, The Horseshoe. Updates will be provided regularly as new information becomes available. For your convenience, direct links are provided below.


Given the COVID-19 pandemic and until further notice, all volunteers and observers are barred from participation in departmental and MH-ICCE based activities. If there are circumstances wherein this policy causes a significant and critical issue, it should be brought to my attention for consideration of a written waiver (on an individual basis) of this policy. Thank you.

Thomas W. Uhde, M.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Due to the activity of COVID-19 within the hospital and community, all employees, residents, fellows and students within all MUSC entities are directed to begin daily self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms. This applies regardless of whether you have been working remotely on a full-time or intermittent basis. You need to continue daily self-monitoring, even if symptoms are not present.

NAMI Connection and NAMI Family Support Offered Online 

Social distancing does not mean that you have to go through difficult times alone. NAMI is here to help! We are offering NAMI Family Support and NAMI Connection online. 
NAMI Connection Support is offered every Monday at 6PM until further notice.

NAMI Family Support Group is offered the 2nd and 4th Thursdays
of the month at 6PM until further notice.

By clicking HERE you can sign up to receive the meeting login information or you can email us at [email protected] or call/text 843-284-3091. 
If you would like to submit content to include in next week's
Chair Update, please submit to Dr. Jamie Fisher
by 12:00 pm on Monday. Thank you.