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Spreading HAPPINESS in Nigeria: Yale, partners expand mental health program


Charles Dike, MD, left, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, makes a comment during a media briefing January 17 in Lagos, Nigeria, to announce an expansion of the HAPPINESS Project - Health Action for Psychiatric Problems in Nigeria including Epilepsy and Substances. The program, launched in 2018, trains primary care workers in Imo State, Nigeria, to screen for, assess, and treat mental health conditions like depression, psychosis, and anxiety. "Most of these people would otherwise not have access to treatment or else would have traveled five or six hours to get it," said Theddeus Iheanacho, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry who founded the program with support from Dike and others. The intention is to expand the program to all primary care facilities in Imo State, and eventually to other Nigerian states. The announcement was made to coincide with Yale President Peter Salovey's four-day visit to Nigeria as part of the Yale Africa Initiative. Attending the media briefing were, from left, Dike; Dr. Haroun Adamu, President of the Yale Club of Nigeria; Salovey; Iheanacho; and Eddie Mandhry, Yale's Director for Africa & Middle East. Read more

Yale study: DNA biomarkers predict hazardous alcohol consumption in two distinct populations

Xiaoyu Liang, PhD, left, Postdoctoral Associate in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and Ke Xu, MD, right, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, are the first and senior authors, respectively, of a study published in Molecular Psychiatry that found a set of DNA biomarkers that may predict hazardous alcohol drinking in two cohorts. The study may motivate future research to replicate the findings and to establish genomic biomarkers for psychiatric disorders. Read more  

Trainee-led study seeks to better understand all-cause mortality in schizophrenia patients

A new cross-disciplinary study led by Albert Higgins-Chen, MD, PhD, a third-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, sought to better understand why people with schizophrenia have dramatically increased all-cause mortality, and whether living with severe mental illness accelerates the aging process. The analysis, published in Biological Psychiatry, revealed striking differences in aging between controls and schizophrenia patients, who often live 15 to 20 fewer years than those without severe mental illness. Read more  

Grilo co-author of paper that details changes to ICD-11 classification system

Carlos Grilo, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology and Director of the Program for Obesity Weight and Eating Research (POWER) at Yale, is co-author of a paper published in BMC Medicine that details the recently approved 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11). In the paper, Grilo and other experts reflect on key changes and controversies in the ICD-11 classification of mental disorders. The revisions to the document were approved by the World Health Organization. Read more  

Substance use disorders in later life: A review and synthesis of the literature of an emerging public health concern

Five current and former Yale Department of Psychiatry faculty and trainees contributed to a paper published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry that provides a clinical review and synthesis of existing literature around subsance use in later life. The paper especially highlights the substantial negative impact of substance use disorders on medical and psychiatric conditions. The authors are, from left, Stephanie Yarnell, MD, PhD; Luming Li, MD; Brian MacGrory, MD; Louis Trevisan, MD; and Paul Kirwin, MD. Read more  

Yale review: Opioid use in pregnancy

From left, Amalia Londono Tobon, MD, Clinical Fellow in the Yale Child Study Center; Erin Habecker, MD, a 2019 graduate of the Yale Psychiatry Residency Program; and Ariadna Forray, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry are co-authors of a paper published in Current Psychiatry Reports that reviews recent evidence of perinatal outcomes and treatment of opioid use disorder during pregnancy. Read more  

Harmful effects of ageism on older persons' health found in 45 countries

In the largest examination to date of the health consequences of ageism, or age-based bias, researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have found evidence that it harms the health of older people in 45 countries and across five continents. The study included over 7 million participants. Becca Levy, PhD, Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences) and Psychology, led the study at the request of the World Health Organization as part of its newly launched Global Campaign to Combat Ageism. The study was published by PLOS One. Read more  

Research by Yip Lab featured in NIDA 2019 achievements review

Research by the Yip Lab, headed by Sarah Yip, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, was featured in a National Institute on Drug Abuse review of scientific achievements in 2019. "Using functional magnetic resonance imaging and machine learning, (Yip) and colleagues found that functional connectivity among a number of brain regions predicted chances of achieving abstinence in patients receiving treatment for cocaine use disorder. Their results ... could lead to new approaches to treating cocaine addiction by intervening directly in those pathways." Read more  

Jordan, Klingensmith, Wasser appointed Associate Program Directors for Psychiatry Residency

From left, Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; Katherine Klingensmith, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; and Tobias Wasser, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, have been appointed Associate Program Directors for the Yale Department of Psychiatry Residency Program. All three trained in the department before assuming faculty positions. Read more  

Wilkins, Goldenberg appointed to new medical student education leadership positions

Kirsten Wilkins, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, has been named Director of Medical Student Education overseeing all medical student education in the Yale Department of Psychiatry. Wilkins has served as Psychiatry Clerkship Director since 2011. Matthew Goldenberg, MD, MSc, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, has been named Psychiatry Clerkship Director. He has served as Co-Clerkship Director with Wilkins and before that was Associate Clerkship Director. Read more  

Three faculty honored with VA Career Development Award

From left, Lynnette Averill, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; Lorig Kachadourian, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; and Janitza Montalvo-Ortiz, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, were honored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with its Career Development Award. The award is intended to attract, develop, and retain talented researchers working to improve the health and care of veterans. Read more  

Fellowship places Li with NIMH

The Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program has placed fellow Luming Li, MD, Assistant Professor of Psyciatry, with the Suicide Research Team at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Li will work with officials at NIMH around the area of suicide prevention, including policy development and associated materials. Some of her work will be completed in Washington, D.C. Li, one of 12 fellows in the current class, is a 2018 graduate of the Yale Psychiatry Residency Program. She is Associate Medical Director for Quality Improvement at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital. Read more  

O'Dell, Mecca awarded travel scholarships

Ryan O'Dell, MD, PhD, left, a third-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and Adam Mecca, MD, PhD, right, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, were both awarded the Human Amyloid Imaging 2020 Travel Scholarship for the organization's annual conference in January 2020. The scholarship award, given by the Human Amyloid Imaging Conference, helps defer the cost for flights, hotel, and registration to the annual conference. This year's conference was held Jan. 15-17 in Miami, Fla. Read more  

Garakani to be inducted into American College of Psychiatrists

Amir Garakani, MD, DFAPA, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, will be inducted into the American College of Psychiatrists at the organization's Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on February 20. The college is an honorary association that provides its members continuing education, promotes the latest advances in the specialty, and supports the highest standards in psychiatry. Garakani is Director of Education at Silver Hill Hospital, a not-for-profit psychiatric hospital in New Canaan. The hospital and Yale Department of Psychiatry are partners in The Steward House at Silver Hill. Read more  

Balasuriya selected for Career Development Institute for Psychiatry

Lilanthi Balasuriya, MD, MMS, a fourth-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, has been selected for the 2020 cohort for the Career Development Institute for Psychiatry (CDI). CDI trains young psychiatrists and researchers interested in successful research careers in academic psychiatry. The program includes career and self-assessment, individualized career goal setting, a four-day workshop, structured long-distance career mentoring and goal tracking, online meetings and tutorials, and a program evaluation. Read more  

When boys and men are raped: Clinical insights

Joan Cook, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, spoke about male rape myths and provided clinical insights about the seldom discussed issue in an interview with Psychiatric Times. "The best data that we have ... shows that men do not disclose the experiences of sexual abuse or assault until 20 or 25 years later," Cook said. "Some (victims) never disclose (such traumatic events) and sadly live and suffer in silence." She said a number of barriers keep male sexual assault victims from reporting these experiences, including the concern that they will not be believed. Watch  

Deeper than 'research topic choice:' A response to the persistent NIH funding gap for Black scientists

Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, and a Columbia University neuroscientist responded to a report in Science Advances that sought to explain why fewer National Institutes of Health R01 applications submitted by Black investigators are funded compared with other racial groups. Jordan and her co-author observed that the report contained a "glaring omission," the potential role of racial discrimination in the NIH grant awarding process. "It is naïve or irresponsible to ignore or to be uninformed about the influence of racial discrimination in science," they wrote. Read more  

Wilkinson: What is the deal with esketamine?

Samuel Wilkinson, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Assistant Director of the Yale Depression Research Program, writes in Psychiatric Times about the drug esketamine, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year as the first rapid-acting therapy for treatment-resistant depression. "Part of the excitement about ketamine and esketamine is that this approach has the potential to improve mood and other depressive symptoms on a much shorter time scale than classic antidepressants, such as selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors," he wrote. Read more  

How founding a company compares to graduate school

Adam Chekroud, PhD, Assistant Professor Adjunct of Psychiatry, writes in Nature about his experience starting a healthcare company while completing his PhD at Yale. "Both start-ups and research projects attempt to do something that has probably never been done before," he writes. "In both cases, you have to persevere despite ambiguity, uncertainty and risk. You take a big, amorphous goal, and you break it up into smaller, testable hypotheses to create clarity as you go. And in both you have to learn new skills quickly." Read more  

Harper research featured by The Root Cause Coalition

Research by Annie Harper, PhD, Instructor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, will be featured in the 2020 Status of Health Equity to be published in late February by The Root Cause Coalition, a non-profit organization which works to achieve health equity through advocacy, education, and research. Harper researches how vulnerable populations, including people with mental illness, cope with poverty and financial difficulties. "Poverty is multi-faceted, and finances and money are part of that. Having mental illness only exacerbates the issues," she said. Read more  

MoMba app: Hopelab and Elevate team up on social media application

Elevate, a policy lab at Yale School of Medicine, and Hopelab, a social innovation lab based in San Francisco, Calif., recently teamed up in a collaboration focused on the MoMba® app, a social media application designed to strengthen the mental health of mothers as well as their connections with their young children. The app was originally developed as part of the Mental health Outreach for MotherS (MOMS) Partnership®, which Elevate is working to scale to new communities across the U.S. Megan Smith, DrPH, MPH, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and in the Child Study Center, is founder of the MOMS Partnership. Read more  

Ethics document: Confidentiality key in responding to reviews

Charles Dike, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Director at the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, spoke to Psychiatric News about negative online physician reviews. Dike, Vice Chair of the American Psychiatric Association's Committee on Ethics, said psychiatrists cannot respond to a negative review in any way that might publicly disclose that the individual is or ever was a patient. "If you indicate publicly that you are or were the person's psychiatrist, you have broken the law and acted unethically," he said. Read more  

People born blind are mysteriously protected from schizophrenia

The online news service Vice referenced a study by Philip Corlett, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, for a story about how no person born blind has ever been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Corlett's research found that later in life, loss of vision can contribute to halluncinations, but that people born without sight are protected. His research, published in October 2019, argued that "visual experience is critical in the construction of our internal world model. Visual loss can disrupt the development or maintenance of that model." Read more  

In Memoriam

Ronald S. Duman, PhD

Ronald S. Duman, PhD, Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Neuroscience, died unexpectedly February 2, 2020. He was 65. Dr. Duman was Director of The Abraham Ribicoff Research Facilities of the Connecticut Mental Health Center and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine. He was a renowned neuroscientist who illuminated the impact of stress on the brain and transformed our understanding of how antidepressants work. "He died at the peak of his productivity and scientific impact," said John H. Krystal, Department Chair. 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  

Staff Connections


Employee Spotlight, a feature in Psychiatry@Yale, profiles one Yale Department of Psychiatry staff member every issue. Featured this month is Mary Kate De Marco, Senior Operations Manager.

Q: What is your role in Yale Psychiatry and what work do you perform?

A: "I am the Senior Operations Manager for Research Financial Administration and part of the Financial Administration Leadership Team for the Department of Psychiatry. I am responsible for both Pre Award (submitting grants), Post Award (managing them after they've been awarded), and the Transaction Team (processing purchasing/expense transactions) for the department. I supervise a team of about 23 employees who support the psychiatry faculty. My work involves a lot of troubleshooting, running reports, and generally making sure that everyone can get done what they promised they were going to do without overspending or breaking any rules."

Q: Before working at Yale, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?

A: "My first salaried job was working for the Chamber Theater Company - a touring theater company located in Boston. I was in charge of the mailroom and was responsible for bulk mailings. I got very good at knowing zip codes and organizing bulk mailings. I also worked with the director on planning the routes the tours took through the US. I knew all the towns in the country that had a proscenium theater that were five hours away from each other - it got tricky in the Midwest! I learned how to say Nacogdoches, Texas."

Q: If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

A: "Play the fiddle."

Q: What is your bucket list vacation place and why?

A: "I am drawn to the cooler places in the world (i.e. the weather) - Copenhagen is on my list. Some kind of biking or walking tour in the British Isles - maybe Wales. Likely the result of being overly fond of Victorian novels in my youth ... "

Q: If you were granted one wish what would it be?

A: "Please, win the lottery - enough money so that I can live comfortably but nobody gets kidnapped."

Department welcomes Jordan Sisson, Communications and Faculty Affairs Officer

The Yale Department of Psychiatry welcomes Jordan Sisson to the new position of Communications and Faculty Affairs Officer. Jordan will assist Chris Gardner, Director of Communications, and Victoria D'Agostino and Stephen Healy in the Office of Faculty Affairs. She comes to Yale from the Hartford Courant, where she was a content editor on the community and breaking news team. Before being promoted to editor, Jordan provided award-winning coverage as a reporter covering town news and religion for the paper. She also has experience in website and social media content management.

Ketamine Clinic opens at West Haven VA


The Ketamine Clinic at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony January 13 to kick off the opening of this new service. Research supports the use of ketamine for depression, psychiatric disorders, and chronic pain. The clinic is located on the 4th floor of Building 1 at the VA. Ketamine has the advantage of rapid onset of effects, ability to attenuate suicidality, and is also indicated for refractory depression. The Ketamine Clinic will offer two formulations: IV ketamine and intranasal ketamine (Spravato). Veterans will be evaluated for appropriate treatment under the direction of Mohini Ranganathan, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry. Pictured are, from left, Mohamed Sherif, MD; Cyril D'Souza, MD; Emily Baldwin, RN; Chris Cimino, MSN, APRN; Ismene Petrakis, MD (Mental Health Service Chief); Ranganathan; Alec Buchanan, MD; Betsey Arena, RN; and Phelan Maruca-Sullivan, MD.

Native American Cultural Center hosts brunch for Native Americans in Medicine


Stefanie Gillson, MD, top row, left, a third-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, was among those who attended a brunch for Native Americans in Medicine on January 25 hosted by the Native American Cultural Center at Yale. Attending were resident physicians from psychiatry, neurosurgery, and emergency medicine as well as fourth-year medical students and psychiatry nurse practitioner students. They included, top row, from left, Gillson (Dakota), Libby Fairless (Choctaw), Esme Roddy (Ojibew), Amy Nichols (UG Samish Nation), Hannah Selwyn (Lakota), Dr. Joe Jacobs (Mohawk), and Dean Mathew Makomenaw (Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians); back row, from left, Dr. Ryan Buckley (Cherokee), Diana Onco-Ingyadet (Navajo/Kiowa/Comache), Jordan Young (Navajo), Layton Lamsom (Osage), and Anna Smist (Sak & Fox). The Native Americans in Medicine will help mentor and build a community of Native American undergraduates at Yale who are interested in pursing a medical career.

Yale Psychiatry represented at Annual Meeting of Academy of Addiction Psychiatry


The Yale Department of Psychiatry was well represented at December's Annual Meeting of the Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) in San Diego. Pictured are faculty, trainees, and alumni who annually gather for dinner at the meeting. This year two PGY-4 residents, Ariel Sloan, MD, and Azim Munivar, MD, were travel award recipients. The incoming president of AAAP is Kevin Sevarino, MD, PhD, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry.

Psychiatry Grand Rounds

Friday, February 14, 2020; 10:15-11:30 am

LGBTQ Panel Discussion: Finding Love and Belonging

Hosted by the LGBTQ+ Committee at CMHC

CMHC Auditorium, 34 Park St.

Friday, February 21, 2020; 10:15-11:30 am

Aghajanian Lecture: The Shape of Discovery: Ketamine for Treatment Resistant Depression

Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs for the Mount Sinai Health System

CMHC Auditorium, 34 Park St.

Friday, February 28, 2020; 10:15-11:30 am

Vulnerable Ethics: The Role of Psychiatrists in the U.S. Eugenics Movement and the Nazi Holocaust

Mark Komrad, MD, Instructor, Johns Hopkins University

CMHC Auditorium, 34 Park St.

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