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IMANI Breakthrough honored for transformational work in community


The Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH) was honored by New Haven's Varick Memorial AME Zion Church in November in celebration of the church's 201st anniversary. The award recognized Yale Department of Psychiatry faculty Chyrell Bellamy, PhD, left, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, right, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, and Yale PRCH for the IMANI Breakthrough Faith-based Opioid Recovery Program. IMANI Breakthrough is an intervention developed by Bellamy and Jordan to target people addicted to and actively using heroin and/or other opiates, drugs, and alcohol. It consists of group-based mutual support and recovery education with wrap-around coaching provided to the participants. Facilitators/coaches are people with lived experience of addictions and recovery, and church members. IMANI also provides monthly education sessions for church and community on opioid use and ways to address this epidemic. Sessions meet monthly at local churches. Read more

Delegation from China visits Yale Psychiatry; Active collaboration planned


Representatives from the Mental Health Institute at the Second Xiangya Hospital in Changsha, Hunan Province, People's Republic of China and the Yale Department of Psychiatry signed a Memorandum Of Understanding on December 4 that signifies the intention of both departments to collaborate more actively. A delegation of faculty and trainees from Xiangya School of Medicine visited Yale on December 2, 3, and 4 to meet with Yale Psychiatry faculty who specialize in research, education, and clinical services. Looking on at the signing were representatives from both institutions, including from Yale's Office of International Affairs and the Yale China Association. The collaboration between the two psychiatry departments builds upon a century of collaboration between the two medical schools. Xiangya School of Medicine was established by the Yale China Association and the Hunan government in 1914 as the Hsiang-Ya (transliterated as the Hunan-Yale) School of Medicine. The first dean, Yan Fuqing, was a Chinese national who was a Yale School of Medicine graduate. The collaboration is especially auspicious as both departments are recognized for academic and clinical excellence.

Yale Imaging and Psychopharmacology Lab publishes articles in Molecular Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry CNNI

The Yale Imaging and Psychopharmacology Lab, directed by Sarah Yip, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and in the Child Study Center, has published research articles in Molecular Psychiatry and Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging (CNNI). The title of the Molecular Psychiatry article was, "Dissociable Neural Substrates of Opioid and Cocaine Use Identified Via Connectome-Based Modelling." In Biological Psychiatry CNNI, the lab published, "Toward Addiction Prediction: An Overview of Cross-Validated Predictive Modeling Findings and Considerations for Future Neuroimaging Research." Read more  

Yale review: How brain alterations contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviors

How brain alterations contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviors is the subject of a review of brain scanning studies by Yale and international researchers. Published in Molecular Psychiatry, the review spans more than two decades of neuroimaging studies and summarizes progress made in understanding how alterations in the brain contribute to suicide. Hilary Blumberg, MD, John and Hope Furth Professor of Psychiatric Neuroscience, and Professor of Psychiatry, in the Child Study Center and of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, is the paper's lead and corresponding author. Read more  

Yale researchers measure ketamine's effects on a glutamate receptor

Sophie Holmes, PhD, left, Associate Research Scientist in Psychiatry, and Irina Esterlis, PhD, right, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, are the first and senior authors, respectively, of a study published in Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism that measured the effects of the anesthetic ketamine on a glutamate receptor. Several Yale scientists contributed to the work. A derivative of ketamine, esketamine, was approved in March by the Food and Drug Administration to treat chronically depressed patients. Read more 

Yale study: Racial and religious differences in opioid use disorders

Angela Haeny, PhD, left, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, right, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, are co-authors of a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence that investigates religious involvement and Black-White differences in risk of opioid use disorders. They concluded religious involvement may be important for prevention and treatment practices that respond to racial differences in risk of drug use. Read more 

Ball named Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs

Samuel Ball, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, has been appointed Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs at Yale School of Medicine. Ball will represent non-surgical departments and will begin his new appointment January 1, 2020. He will oversee faculty development and mentoring initiatives across the school, using best practices for faculty development along differing career paths and working with departments to develop and streamline their mentoring programs. He will continue to work with the Yale Department of Psychiatry's Office of Faculty Affairs. Read more  

Pachankis appointed the Bliss Associate Professor of Public Health

John Pachankis, PhD, who has a secondary appointment in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, has been named the Susan Dwight Bliss Associate Professor of Public Health at Yale. Pachankis studies the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. His research seeks to bring effective mental health treatments to LGBTQ people around the world and to identify strategies for overcoming the significant barriers to getting such treatment to LGBTQ people in greatest need. He uses epidemiological, experimental, and clinical trials methods in his research. Read more 

Yale Department of Psychiatry to launch Public Psychiatry Track

The Yale Department of Psychiatry is creating a new track for residents who are interested in Public/Community Psychiatry, broadly defined as the treatment of individuals with serious mental illness and substance use disorders who receive services supported by public funds. The track is designed to foster the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and experience in order to enhance the development of expertise within this arena and to prepare interested residents for academic or other leadership roles within the public sector. Jeanne Steiner, DO, Professor of Psychiatry, is the track director. Read more  

BBRF honors Krystal with 2019 Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF) has awarded its 2019 Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research to John H. Krystal, MD, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Professor of Translational Research and Professor of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine. He was honored for his role in discovering the rapid antidepressant effects of the anesthetic ketamine in the 1990s at Yale. In March, the Food and Drug Administration approved the nasal spray esketamine - derived from ketamine - for patients with treatment-resistant depression. Read more  

Anticevic recipient of Joel Elkes Research Award

Alan Anticevic, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, has been named recipient of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology's (ACNP) Joel Elkes Research Award for excellence in clinical research. The award, presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the ACNP in Orlando, Fla., on December 8-11, is given to a young scientist in recognition of an outstanding clinical contribution to neuropsychopharmacology. Anticevic directs Yale's Division of Neurocognition, Neurocomputation, and Neurogenetics. His research is centered on computational and cognitive neuroscience of mental health. Read more  

Jordan, Chekroud elected to Editorial Advisory Board of The Lancet Psychiatry

Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, and Adam Chekroud, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, have been elected to the Editorial Advisory Board of The Lancet Psychiatry. The board includes key opinion leaders and researchers from around the world who lend their expertise to the journal, which features original clinical research, expert reviews, and comment and opinion on mental health. Read more  

De Aquino honored with 2020 SOBP Travel Fellowship Award

João P. De Aquino, MD, Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry and a graduate of the Yale Psychiatry Residency Program, has been selected to receive a 2020 Society of Biological Psychiatry Travel Fellowship Award to attend the organization's annual meeting April 30-May 2, 2020 in New York City. Selection criteria include past excellence in scholarly work, potential for scholarly growth in biological psychiatry and clinical neuroscience, and overall excellence. De Aquino is a Staff Addiction Psychiatrist and Advanced Fellow in Mental Illness Research and Treatment at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. Read more  

Lin, Chang place 5th in international natural language processing competition

Eric Lin, MD, left, a fourth-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and David Chang, right, a student in Yale's Computation Biology & Bioinformatics program, placed fifth in the National NLP Clinical Challenges (n2c2) Clinical Semantic Textual Similarity (STS) Task. The competition was designed to further the development of automated methods to better process and aggregate data from increasingly bloated electronic health records for clinical use and research. Read more 

Kennedy selected to be member of The American College of Psychiatrists

The American College of Psychiatrists has elected Katherine "Kiki" Kennedy, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, to be a new member. The honorary association supports the highest standards in psychiatry and provides continuing education to its members. Membership is limited to psychiatrists who have demonstrated outstanding competence in the field of psychiatry and who have achieved national recognition in clinical practice, research, academic leadership, or teaching. Kennedy will be inducted in February 2020 at the college's annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Read more  

Ravven elected President-Elect of Vermont Medical Society

Simha Ravven, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, has been elected President-Elect of the Vermont Medical Society (VMS). The elections were held November 2 at the VMS Annual Meeting in Stowe, Vermont. Ravven had been Vice President of VMS, a position she assumed in 2018. She works at Brattleboro Retreat, a psychiatric hospital in Brattleboro, VT, where she was Interim Chief Medical Officer from September 2018 to September 2019. She has clinical expertise in the areas of forensic psychiatry, severe and persistent psychiatric illness, and substance abuse. Read more  

Tsai co-edits 'Intersections Between Mental Health and Law Among Veterans'

Jack Tsai, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Research Director at the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, is co-editor of the new book, "Intersections Between Mental Health and Law Among Veterans." The book, published by Springer, contains 10 chapters written by experts in the field and addresses the serious and increasingly public concern over the mental health of veterans after military deployment. Tsai is Director of the Division of Mental Health Services Research and teaches and supervises interns, residents, and fellows. Read more  

Opinion: Be aware of vaping dangers

Lilanthi Balasuriya, MD, MMS, left, a fourth-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and Eliza Buelt, MD, right, a Public Psychiatry Fellow and Instructor, wrote in the New Haven Register about the surge of vaping-related injuries in Connecticut and symptoms people exhibit when their lungs are harmed. Among the effects: shortness of breath, a cough and/or chest pain, gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, and fevers or fatigue. Read more  

Krystal member of expert panel at CINP International Meeting

John H. Krystal, MD, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Professor of Translational Research and Professor of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine, was among four expert panelists who spoke on videos recorded at The International College of Neuropsychopharmacology (CINP) 2019 International Meeting in Athens on October 3-5, 2019. Topics discussed included new treatments for treatment-resistant depression, new medication for schizophrenia, treatment-resistant depression, and use of cannabinoids in psychiatric patients. Watch  

Fucito presents research at NIAAA-sponsored workshop

Lisa Fucito, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, presented her research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism-sponsored workshop "Brief Alcohol Interventions for College and Young Adults" on October 10 and 11. The goal of the workshop was to build upon the existing base of effective brief alcohol interventions for young adults and address key areas that will advance the field including optimizing intervention design, implementation, and scale up. Fucito is director of the Tobacco Treatment Service at Smilow Cancer Hospital. Read more 

Balasuriya speaks at AAMC Learn Serve Lead Conference

Lilanthi Balasuriya, MD, MMS, a fourth-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, spoke at the 2019 National Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Learn Serve Lead Conference on November 12 in Phoenix, Ariz. Balasuriya spoke about her team's research on creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning spaces. Learn Serve Lead brings together diverse communities within medical education, patient care, and research so that academic medicine professionals may learn from one another, find common ground, and build organizational capacity. Read more  

Researchers, clinicians, communicators by day; Town servants by night

From left, Kimberly Yonkers, MD, and Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD, are researchers and clinicians in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, while Chris Gardner promotes the department as its Director of Communications. Off hours, they help to shape policy and track spending on behalf of constituents as elected members of boards in their respective communities. Read more 

Here's what happens to your body when you overthink

Rajita Sinha, PhD, Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry and Professor in the Child Study Center and of Neuroscience; and Director of the Yale Stress Center, spoke to HuffPost about the consequences of overthinking. Overthinking creates so many options, choices, and scenarios that you end up unable to make a decision - a concept called analysis paralysis. "You could get stuck in potential consequences that may not even happen, just worrying about certain outcomes, and that can paralyze us or freeze us from taking an action," Sinha said. Read more  

Can your therapist be replaced by an app?

Kathleen Carroll, PhD, Albert E. Kent Professor of Psychiatry and Principal Investigator in the Psychotherapy Development Center for Drug Abuse at Yale, spoke to Healthline about her app CBT4CBT, which uses interactive exercises, movies, and graphics to help people stop using drugs and alcohol. Studies showed the app proved to be just as effective, if not more, than in-person consultations, Carroll told Healthline. She said patients preferred the app to group treatment. "Coming in to a treatment center and sitting in groups isn't attractive to a lot of people," she said. Read more  

Dementia: Your questions answered

Alzheimer's disease causes between 60 and 80 percent of all dementia cases in this country, meaning that about one in 10 Americans age 65 or older currently lives with it. "It's important to note that dementia is a syndrome, or a group of symptoms. Alzheimer's is a disease and the leading cause of dementia," said geriatric psychiatrist Christopher van Dyck, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, in a recent Yale Medicine report. Van Dyck directs Yale's Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit, which focuses on treatment, neuroimaging, and genetic studies of Alzheimer's disease and healthy aging. Read more  

What do I need to know about e-cigarettes?

Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and co-leader of the Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science, spoke on a podcast published by JAMA Clinical Reviews that reviews research on the epidemiology and possible adverse health effects of e-cigarette and nicotine use, and the pitfalls associated with using e-cigarettes as a method to stop smoking. Krishnan-Sarin has given numerous interviews on e-cigarette use in recent months. She serves as a member of the Federal Drug Administration's Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee. Listen  

When it comes to vaping, health officials insist there's a lot at stake

Nii Addy, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, spoke about his lab's research into flavors in vaping products and their possible effect on the brain's dopamine system in a recent NPR report. "If both nicotine and flavors are acting on this same dopamine system in the brain, is that somehow facilitating and making it more likely that people will take products that have both flavors and nicotine?" he said. "What we found is that the sweet flavors can make the nicotine more palatable in the oral cavity but also act in the brain to increase nicotine taking." Listen  

Australian survey: Some women feel fetal kicks years after they've given birth

Philip Corlett, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, spoke to the online news site NewScientist for a report about women who experience fetus-like kicking in their abdomen even after they have given birth. An Australian research team surveyed 197 women, and 40 percent experienced phantom fetal kicks after their pregnancy. Corlett said it may come down to how our brains perceive our body. "It underlines the role of expectations in perception - not just to the outside world, but of your body too. And I think that's exciting," he said. Read more  

Rape survivors seeking asylum have to prove the rape happened or be deported

A report published by the online news service Vice found that victims of sexual abuse seeking asylum in the United States must be able to prove to a judge that they were victims of violence or risk being deported back to the place where the violence occurred. Reena Kapoor, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, performs evaluations on asylum seekers, and told Vice forensic training can be vital for these cases because it allows psychiatrists to understand how immigration officials think. "We're mindful of how carefully judges or asylum officers are going to pick apart a person's story," she said. Read more  

New hope for people with serious mental illness

Sandra Resnick, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, spoke to the American Psychological Association's Monitor on Psychology for a story about new efforts to treat people with serious mental illness (SMI). The APA will offer more training to its members in SMI treatment. "Most providers don't believe that people with a serious mental illness will improve or can live meaningful lives," Resnick said. "It's important that our training opportunities share the perspective and data that show that's simply not true." Read more  

Beating holiday stress and expressing gratitude

Millie Grenough, LCSW, MAT, MSW, Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry, spoke to WTNH-TV News 8 about strategies to avoid stress and express gratitude during the holidays. "It's time to stress the thanks. There's so much stress in our lives right now that it's really important to just take some time to realize how fortunate we are," she said. Grenough gave the talk "How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World" on December 9 at Mitchell Library in New Haven. She spoke about the beauty of the holidays and gave tips on lowering stress. Watch  

Liu emphasizes collaboration in his sports neuroscience research

Sports neuroscientist Kun Liu, PhD, Visiting Associate Professor of Psychiatry, spoke to the Chinese news service about his program Physical Exercise Affecting on Cognition and Emotion (PEACE). The program incorporates the interdisciplinary field of sports science, neuroscience, and analytical chemistry in studying how and why physical activities can have a unique effect on certain cognitions. Liu and his team have been bringing practices of the program to communities in China, the U.S. and other countries to provide sports-based cognitive function training to seniors and children. Read more  

Special Events

Call for Submissions: RebPsych 2020: Decolonizing Mental Health

The organizers of RebPsych 2020: Decolonizing Mental Health have issued a call for submissions to the conference, which will be held April 3, 2020. The conference asks what decolonizing mental health looks like today, and how we can build on past efforts. Organizers want to imagine the decolonization of the psychiatric profession as broadly as possible, and encourage submissions from a diverse array of participants, including health professionals, activists, community organizers, scholars, clients, patients, artists, students, and writers. Learn more  

VA News

U.S. Postal Service unveils Healing PTSD postage stamp

The U.S. Postal Service unveiled its new Healing PTSD postage stamp December 3 at a ceremony in Charlotte, NC., attended by representatives of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The stamp features a photo illustration of a green plant sprouting from the ground, which is covered in fallen leaves. The image is intended to symbolize the PTSD healing process, growth, and hope. The stamp was the dream of Navy veteran Garland Denny, who passed away four years ago. He wanted a stamp to raise awareness about PTSD for his fellow veterans. His son, Chuck, and many family members took on the cause and brought Garland's dream to reality. The stamp is part of the semipostal fundraising series and is sold at 65 cents for a two-year period, with a potential to reach $150 million. Proceeds from the sale of these stamps will go to the National Center for PTSD. "The Healing PTSD Stamp is important because it demonstrates what one person can do, or in this case, two people: Mr. Garland Denny and his son, Mr. Charles Denny," said Paula Schnurr, PhD, Director of the National Center for PTSD. "Through their vision, their dedication, their perseverance, they have translated an idea into action."

Staff Connections


The Yale Department of Psychiatry's Project Synapse team sponsored a gift card raffle in November and December to encourage staff across the department to take Yale's 2019 University-wide Workplace Survey. Recipients received a $50 Amazon gift card for their participation. Gift card winner Monica Ortiz, left, received her award from Project Synapse team member Khalid Jabarkhail, right. Other winners were: Allison Cauhutle, Carol Gunnoud, Chris Gardner, Cerella Craig, Tara Spence, Tammy Savercool, and Danielle Klemonsky. Project Synapse seeks ways for all members of the Yale Department of Psychiatry to be well connected for optimal flow of information, innovation, and recognition. Launched in 2019, the project reviewed and responded to the departmental results of the 2017 University-wide Workplace Survey and recommended actions to improve the workplace in three areas: morale, teamwork, and stress.

Jordan, Iheanacho lead Public Psychiatry Division discussion of book "Americanah"


Theddeus Iheanacho, MD, right, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, live via video feed, led a discussion of the book "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on November 15 during the monthly Yale Division of Public Psychiatry meeting at the Connecticut Mental Health Center. Jeanne Steiner, DO, center, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Director of the Public Psychiatry Division, moderated. "Americanah," the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 2013, is a powerful story of race and identity.

Gregory discusses bystander intervention during department Grand Rounds and Town Hall


Ada Gregory, MA, third from left, Associate Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, presented a talk titled, "Bystander Intervention: Addressing Harassment and Bias at Work," during a department Grand Rounds and Town Hall on November 22 in Cohen Auditorium at the Yale Child Study Center. A former police officer, Gregory has influenced policy and practice related to victims' rights, violence against women, and criminal justice reform. Among those who attended her talk were, from left, Nora Proops, MD, a fourth-year psychiatry resident; Cindy Crusto, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Assistant Chair for Diversity; Lynette Adams, PhD, Women Veterans Program Manager at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System; Jennifer Doran, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale School of Medicine and Staff Psychologist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System; and Myra Mathis, MD, Addiction Fellow, Yale School of Medicine.

Axelrod honored at International Society for the Improvement and Teaching of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy conference


The Yale Department of Psychiatry was well represented at the International Society for the Improvement and Teaching of Dialectical Behavior Therapy's 24th Annual Conference on November 21 in Atlanta. Rajita Sinha, PhD, left, Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry and Professor in the Child Study Center and of Neuroscience, delivered the opening research spotlight: "Stress, Emotion Dysregulation, and Addictive Behaviors." Emily Cooney, PhD, right, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, co-delivered the clinical seminar "Advanced Case Formulation in DBT." Seth Axelrod, PhD, center, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, was the honored recipient of the Cindy Sanderson Educator Award recognizing outstanding dedication to the field of dialectical behavior therapy through teaching for the benefit of clients, clinicians, and the general community. Cooney and Axelrod also co-authored two research presentations delivered by former Psychology Fellows at Yale. Emily Edwards, PhD, presented "Homework Compliance and Phone Coaching Predict Treatment Outcomes in Intensive Outpatient DBT," and Andrea Gold, PhD, presented "Prevalence, Correlates, and Treatment of BPD Symptoms Among Adolescents in a Nationally-Representative Sample."

Soup's On: Reflections on food and mental health from the teaching kitchen at CMHC


The teaching kitchen at Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC) heats up on Tuesday afternoons when a group of clients convene with, from left, Chef's Assistant Bob Forlano, Chef Anne Gallagher, and Nutritionist Francine Blinten to learn the art of cooking and eating better. For these students, who live with serious mental health issues and live below the federal poverty level, the Better Eater's Club and one-on-one nutrition counseling have been life-changing. The program started in 2013 and is now one of CMHC's most popular. CMHC Communications Officer Lucile Bruce sat down with Chef Anne, Bob, and Francine to ask about their approach and to hear their reflections on holiday food. Read more  

Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health

The Perch, Volume 5, is released

The editorial staff of The Perch, a creative arts journal published by the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health, released its fifth volume in December. The Perch complements the program's core focus on mental health in all its dimensions, from personal to community-based to its engagement with broad social concerns. For the editors, mental health has many aspects - physical, emotional, social, civic, political, cultural, spiritual, and more. They are interested in individual health in its settings: how the personal and the communal interact. With The Perch they hope to expand the mental health narrative to include new and unexpected voices, ideas, and creative expressions. Read The Perch  

Psychiatry Grand Rounds

Friday, December 13, 2019; 10:15-11:30 am

"Violent Medicine: Doctors and the Ethics of Medical Practice in the Atlantic Slave Trade." A Commemoration of 400 Years of Slavery/Perseverance in the United States

Carolyn Roberts, PhD, Assistant Professor of African Studies, History, and History of Medicine, Yale University

CMHC Auditorium, 34 Park St.

Friday, December 20, 2019

No Grand Rounds

Friday, December 27, 2019

No Grand Rounds

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