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Scientists gather at Yale for 4th International Conference on Applications of Neuroimaging to Alcoholism (ICANA 4)


A global community of scientists traveled to New Haven July 19-21 for the 4th International Conference on Applications of Neuroimaging to Alcoholism (ICANA) hosted by the Yale Department of Psychiatry. The conference brought together neuroimagers with backgrounds in both technical and clinical expertise to discuss and examine methodological applications to alcohol use disorders. George Koob, PhD, right, Director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, gave the plenary lecture July 19 titled, "Neurobiology of Alcohol Use Disorder: A Heuristic Framework for Future Research." He was introduced by John H. Krystal, MD, left, Chair of the Yale Department of Psychiatry and conference Chair. The 2019 gathering follows ICANA conferences at Yale in 2004, 2008, and 2013.

Yale researchers find genetic clues to troubling PTSD symptom

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) overlap with several other psychiatric disorders, but one specific symptom - repeated disturbing memories and flashbacks about a specific event - is a defining characteristic of debilitating PTSD. A new genome-wide survey of 165,000 U.S. military veterans has identified eight regions of the genome associated with this re-experience of traumatic events, researchers at Yale and University of California-San Diego report in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Joel Gelernter, MD, Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Genetics and of Neuroscience, is co-author of the study. Read more  

People with eating disorders infrequently seek help for symptoms

A first-of-its-kind study by Yale and University at Albany researchers found that people with eating disorders infrequently seek help for their symptoms or concerns. The study of a nationally-representative sample of 36,309 adults, published online July 16 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, reported that a relatively low frequency of adults with an eating disorder diagnosis (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge-eating disorder) sought help for their symptoms or concerns. Carlos M. Grilo, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology, is the paper's senior author. Read more  

Study: The relevance of sex in the association of synthetic cannabinoid use with psychosis and agitation in an inpatient population

Anahita Bassir Nia, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, is the first author of a paper published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry that investigates the relevance of sex in the association of synthetic cannabinoid use in people with psychosis and agitation. Evidence suggests that women are more sensitive to the effects of cannabinoids, according to the authors. The rates of psychosis and agitation with synthetic cannabinoid use in women suggest they may have a greater sensitivity to the synthetic compounds than men. Read more  

How symptom severity and weight impact perceptions of bulimia nervosa

Perceptions of people who have bulimia nervosa differ depending on the patient's weight, according to a new Yale study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. Participants in the study found that people viewed the eating disorder as a serious psychiatric condition when the patient was underweight. That perception changed in patients with overweight, as those patients were viewed as having a weight problem. Janet Lydecker, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, is the paper's senior author. Read more  

Arnsten appointed the Kent Professor of Neuroscience and of Psychology

Amy F.T. Arnsten, PhD, has been named as the Albert E. Kent Professor of Neuroscience and of Psychology at Yale School of Medicine. She studies molecular influences on higher cognitive function, with the aim of developing rational therapies for mental illness and for age-related cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Her lab has discovered powerful chemical signaling pathways that can impair prefrontal function - for example, when people are stressed - as well as protective pathways that maintain strong cognitive function. Read more  

New officers elected for Yale Psychiatry Residents' Association

The Yale Psychiatry Residents' Association (PRA) has elected new officers and activity representatives for 2019-2020. Terrell Holloway, MD, left, and Walker Keenan, MD, right, both second-year residents, are co-presidents of the association, which serves as a liaison between residents and faculty, and helps to cultivate an educational and fun working environment for trainees. Holloway and Keenan take over for Jessica Chaffkin and Ben Yu, who will remain active in the organization. Read more  

McKee's smoking cessation platform earns 'Most Innovative Solution' at Yale Innovation Summit

A wearable biosensor system developed by Sherry McKee, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, and other researchers that can predict when a person will smoke based on past behavior was awarded Most Innovative Solution at the annual Yale Innovation Summit in May at Yale School of Management. The smoking cessation system delivers a personalized motivational and skill-based text message when a person is about to experience a high-risk situation where they have smoked in the past. The intent of the communication is to stop the person from smoking just before they light up. Read more  

Li accepted to national fellowship program

Luming Li, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, has been accepted to a national fellowship program that encourages its fellows to advocate for policies to improve the health care of older adults. The mission of the Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program is to inspire leaders to promote policies that will benefit aging men and women. The year-long fellowship provides a comprehensive training program focused on current policy issues, communication skills development, and professional networking opportunities. Read more  

Olfson honored by NIMH, ACNP

Emily Olfson, MD, PhD, a fourth-year resident in the Albert J. Solnit Integrated Training Program, has been awarded the 2019 National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Outstanding Resident Award. She also has been chosen to receive a travel award through the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP). The award provides registration, accommodations, transportation, and a stipend for recipients to attend the ACNP 2019 Annual Meeting, which will be in Orlando, Fla., in December. Both awards recognize outstanding young scientists. Read more  

Cook: Yes spending time alone can be good for you

In June, the BBC published a report about the benefits of spending time alone. Some questioned the premise as conventional wisdom tells us loneliness is not healthy. Joan Cook, PhD, Associate Professor Psychiatry, writes in The Hill about the differences between being lonely, and about have quality time alone to tune out. "Of course, each of us has to determine the optimal daily amount of alone time required for our good functioning," she wrote. "Be kind to your lone self and see how alone time may help you feel rejuvenated and able to feel more connected and present when with others." Read more 

Qayyum: Where do psychiatrists go when a patient dies?

Zheala Qayyum, MBBS, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, writes in Scientific American about the need for psychiatrists to be better trained to confront patient suicide in their practices. She shares her experience coping with the unexpected suicide of a patient whom she had treated since he was a teenager. "I was devasted. I didn't know what to do with how I felt, and too ashamed to let people know. Suicide assessments were a fundamental part of my psychiatric training, but what to do when suicide occurs was not." Read more 

Yale Refugee Health Program provides medical home for refugees

Yale School of Medicine students and faculty play a key role ensuring the approximately 250 refugees who arrive annually to Greater New Haven receive high quality health care and guidance as they transition to a new health care system. The Yale Refugee Health Program (YRHP), which seeks to provide a medical home for refugees, coordinates these efforts. Aniyizhai Annamalai, MBBS, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, is Director of the Adult Refugee Clinic, which provides domestic screening examinations for refugees in Greater New Haven. Read more  

Kwan: How neurons spark flexible decisions

Alex Kwan, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, once dreamed of a career as a computer programmer. Then he ended up in a biophysics lab and became interested in neuroscience. "I was slicing a mouse brain using a vibratome, and I was struck by the beauty of the organization of the cortex and the hippocampus," he told the website "The anatomy of the structures is very striking. I thought, there must be something to this." Kwan's lab studies how the prefrontal cortex contributes to flexibility when making decisions in an ever-changing environment. Read more  

MOMS Partnership® featured in NASEM report as 'Promising Model'

The MOMS Partnership┬« is identified as a "Promising Model" in a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine titled, "Vibrant and Healthy Kids: Aligning Science, Practice, and Policy to Advance Health Equity." The 503-page report, released July 25, outlines steps needed to move children who are at risk for negative outcomes toward positive health trajectories and reduce health disparities. Megan Smith, DrPH, MPH, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and in the Child Study Center, is Director of the MOMS Partnership. Read more  

Ali helps New Haven residents stay fit with 'The Web Project'

Hana Ali, MD, (pictured) a third-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and Nadine Horton, a research assistant at Yale, have engaged with residents of the Whalley-Edgewood-Beaver Hills (WEB) neighborhood in New Haven to promote good mental and physical health. A new YouTube video, titled "The Web Project," illustrates the efforts by Ali, Horton, and other community members to help the neighborhood residents maintain their wellness. The participants have set fitness and weight-loss goals and are tracking their progress throughout the 26-week program. Watch the video  

NPR report: Understanding the link between cannabis use and mental illness

Deepak Cyril D'Souza, MD, Professor of Psychatry and Director of the Schizophrenia Neuropharmacology Research Group at Yale, was a recent guest on NPR, where he was asked about new research that found daily users of high potency cannabis are five times more likely to develop psychosis. The same study, published in Lancet Psychiatry, found that people who use cannabis daily are three times more likely to develop psychotic disorders like schizophrenia than those who have never used cannabis. The study's author joined D'Souza on the radio program. Listen  

Intimate partner homicide least studied, most common form of family murder

By far the most common form of familial homicide is men who kill their female intimate partner. Because some of these men are often in treatment at the time of the crime, there may be opportunity for prevention, said Alec Buchanan, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, who spoke at an American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting session in May on the dynamics and risk factors for murder in the family. "It has only been in the latter half of the last century that intimate partner homicide was consistently regarded as both a criminal act and social and societal problem," Buchanan told Psychiatric News. Read more  

Researchers look to extend benefits of ketamine

Researchers say that extending the benefits of the fast-acting antidepressant esketamine - a form of ketamine recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration - may prompt more patients to try the drug to treat their symptoms. Side effects may also be a deterrent for some people, according to Samuel Wilkinson, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Assistant Director of the Yale Depression Research Program, who spoke to Psychiatric News. He noted that ketamine might be more widely used if the effects of the medication were longer lasting. Read more  

Study will examine impact of exposure to guns used to threaten female domestic violence victims

Tami P. Sullivan, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, is the principal investigator on a new funded study that will examine the impact of exposure to guns used to threaten, coerce, or intimidate female domestic violence victims. The project will be funded by a $2.1 million grant from the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research. It is among 17 research projects funded by the collaborative, which supports research to promote better understanding of gun use and violence in the United States. Sullivan will collaborate with researchers from Michigan State University. Read more  

Alumni Spotlight

Alumni, have you recently moved? Has your email address changed? Stay connected to the Yale Department of Psychiatry and to fellow alumni. Please submit any address changes to The information will be used to update your record in the department's alumni database. Also, please tell us about your recent accomplishments so they may be shared in this newsletter.

REACH hosts first Intensive Summer Course at Yale


REACH -- Recognizing and Elminating disparities in Addiction through Culturally informed Healthcare -- hosted its first Intensive Summer Course for scholars July 7-12 at Yale. Organizers assembled more than a dozen leading experts in the field of addiction to help participants increase their knowledge and skills about evidence-based, culturally-informed addiction treatment for underrepresented minority patients with substance use disorders. The conference featured lectures, interactive workshops, group exercises, and panels aimed at both personal and professional development. Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, left, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, is Medical/Project Director of REACH. Pictured in photos at top and bottom right, scholars and REACH mentors hold roundtable discussions after a lecture. Yale was chosen to work with the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry to train scholars in pursuing careers in addiction and co-occurring mental disorders

Krystal, Becker host annual department Welcome Event


Yale Department of Psychiatry faculty and trainees gathered at the home of Drs. John Krystal and Bonnie Becker on July 24 for the department's annual Welcome Event. Guests enjoyed plenty of food and drink, and the Yale Psychiatry Band -- which includes faculty and trainees -- provided live entertainment.

Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship welcomes new fellows


The Yale Department of Psychiatry's Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship held its annual Fellows Welcome Party on July 10 at the home of Stephanie O'Malley, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry. Fellows, faculty, and their families gathered in the gardens to socialize and enjoy dinner. The fellowship provides advanced training in the evaluation, treatment, research, and teaching of substance-related disorders.

Survivors of Society Rising theater company performs at Long Wharf


Survivors of Society Rising, a theater company comprised of people in recovery and based at Connecticut Mental Health Center, performed to rave reviews this summer as part of Long Wharf Theatre's New Haven Play Project. Stepping onto the Long Wharf main stage for the first time, the Survivors shared dramatic scenes and riveting monologues before an audience of over 300 people, describing their real-life struggles, relationships, and journeys toward hope. Read the press coverage here and here, and listen to a radio interview here. Survivors of Society Rising, currently in its fourth year, was thrilled to collaborate with Long Wharf's creative team for this original performance. After participating in such a transformative artistic process, the group looks forward to continuing its theater work in the coming year. For more information about Survivors of Society Rising, please email Lucile Bruce, CMHC Communications Officer and co-producer, at

Psychiatry Resident Grand Rounds

Friday, August 2, 2019; 10:15-11:45 am

This 'Stuff' is Really Cool

Current psychiatry residents will deliver a series of brief talks presenting modern perspectives at the cutting-edge of neuroscience with the potential to transform the way we conceptualize and treat individuals with psychiatric illness. Hosted in partnership with the National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative

Fitkin Amphitheater, 330 Cedar St.

Friday, August 9, 2019; 10:15-11:30 am

Bettering Our Communities and Access to Evidence-Based Treatments for Substance Use Disorders

Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine

CMHC Auditorium, 34 Park St.

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