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Mychal Denzel Smith gives keynote talk at RebPsych Conference 2018


New York Times bestselling author Mychal Denzel Smith was the keynote speaker at the Yale Department of Psychiatry's RebPsych Conference 2018: Where Mental Health Meets Social Justice held Sept. 28 at Sterling Hall of Medicine. The program reflected a rich variety of talks related to the conference's theme of multiple justices, and speakers discussed topics like race in medicine, the plight of refugees, and justice and legal activism. Watch Mychal Denzel Smith's talk, "A Vision of Social Justice for Mental Health Care"  

100 Years of Women, Yale Department of Psychiatry: Meet Victoria D'Agostino, Director of the Office of Faculty Affairs


In conjunction with the Yale Department of Psychiatry's year-long celebration of 100 years of women at Yale School of Medicine, the department is featuring a female faculty, staff, or trainee each month in this newsletter. Featured this month is Victoria D'Agostino, Director of the Office of Faculty Affairs.

Q: Tell us about your journey in the department.

A: "My journey in the department has been one of perseverance and learning. When I joined the department two years ago as the Director of the Office of Faculty Affairs I was informed that the position had been vacant for several months, so I knew I had an uphill climb. I worked long hours to catch up with hiring, promotions, reappointments, and other duties. I connected with my colleagues from different departments to ask for advice and to explore ideas and ways to make the office run more efficiently. I created a new position of Coordinator of Faculty Affairs so the office would have two people to serve the faculty affairs needs of approximately 900 faculty members. Last year Steven Gentile joined the department as the Deputy Chair for Finance and Administration, and from that moment things improved rapidly. He understood the workload and the challenges my office faced and recognized what I had to offer the department and the strides I took to make the faculty affairs office function. His support of my office was invaluable and led me to continue my career in this department when I was offered another position. Presently, our Office of Faculty Affairs is recognized as one of the best run faculty affairs offices in the medical school."

Q: What is/has been challenging as a woman in your journey in the department?

A: "In the Department of Psychiatry there are initiatives to move things in the right direction. The department just hosted Grand Rounds celebrating 100 years of women in medicine. In addition, there are many women in leadership roles both on the faculty and in administrative positions so I feel that efforts are being made overall. For me personally, I can't tell if my gender or my status create the challenges I face. My role is to provide administrative services to faculty members. Essentially, I begin working with faculty during the recruitment process, continue as they get reappointed or promoted, and eventually help them when it comes time to retire or resign. Behind the scenes, I play a large part in the administrative piece of each person's career. I am proud to have this position. That being said, I sometimes receive email messages that convey a sense of superiority, and that is challenging. I have been chipping away to modify these communications and feel that progress is being made."

Q: What has your personal life been like and how have you achieved a work-life balance during your career?

A: "I am happy to say that I have a come a long way to achieving a work-life balance. I have two amazing children! My daughter, Carol, is 18 years old and attends college in Massachusetts. My son, Joseph, is 16 years old and is a junior at Notre Dame High School in West Haven. I also have two dogs, two cats and a horse! As with many people the scales still tend to tip toward work, but I attend the majority of my son's hockey games, visit my daughter's horse at the barn, go to yoga, and have a trip planned with my husband to celebrate our 20th anniversary."

Q: What are some lessons learned?

A: "I have learned that asking for help is not a weakness. I spent too much time believing that if I asked for help or did not know how to do something that I would appear incompetent or weak. Those feelings linger with me so I will continue to learn and grow. It is important to be kind, courteous, and respectful in life. Always try to support your colleagues. Take opportunities to teach others, and graciously accept knowledge when it is offered to you. "

Q: What advice would you give to women now?

A: "Be happy! When the day is long and you've worked hard at home and at work but you did not accomplish all that you set out to accomplish give yourself a break. Tomorrow is another day. Hug your loved ones, drink coffee on the beach, eat cereal for dinner, or do whatever it is that makes you smile. Above all - be you!"

Study identifies genes related to Tourette's

Thomas Fernandez, MD, Assistant Professor in the Child Study Center and of Psychiatry, is the co-author of a paper published in Cell Reports that studied the DNA of children with Tourette syndrome, and their parents. An international team of researchers, which included Fernandez, identified six genes that are likely linked to Tourette syndrome, a tic disorder which affects about 138,000 children in the United States. The study noted that another 477 genes may increase risk of the disorder in children. Fernandez said understanding the biology of Tourette's can lead to more effective treatment. Read more  

Bommersbach first author of paper that promotes collaboration between public health, behavioral health

Tanner Bommersbach, MD, MPH, a first-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, is the first author of a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health that outlines opportunities for collaboration between public health and behavioral health. According to the authors, "The rise of the opioid epidemic and the increasing rate of suicides have drawn attention to mental health and addiction and have highlighted the need for collaboration between public health and behavioral health. However, these two fields have had limited engagement with one another." Read more  

Genes explain why alcohol withdrawal is so hard on some

Some heavy drinkers suffer intense withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop drinking - some, less so. A new Yale-led study identified gene variants that may help explain why "detox" from alcohol is particularly difficult for some people. The researchers reported their findings in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The lead author was Andrew Smith, MD, PhD, left, a research affiliate in the laboratory of senior author Joel Gelernter, MD, right, Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Genetics and of Neuroscience. Read more

Researchers evaluate economics of Specialized Treatment Early in Psychosis (STEP) clinic at Yale

Yale researchers contributed to a paper published in The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics that evaluates the economic advantages to patients and third-party payers offered by the Specialized Treatment Early in Psychosis (STEP) clinic at Yale. STEP, a collaborative program of the Yale Department of Psychiatry and Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, was established in 2006 to offer early intervention services to people suffering from psychotic illness. Vinod Srihari, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, is director of STEP. Read more 

McKee on planning committee of FDA Scientific Conference on Opioid and Nicotine Use, Dependence, and Recovery: Influences of Sex and Gender

Sherry McKee, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Yale Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory, helped to plan the FDA Scientific Conference on Opioid and Nicotine Use, Dependence, and Recovery: Influences of Sex and Gender held in September. The conference included presentations by experts -- including McKee -- in the field of opioid and tobacco research, professional education, and clinical care on the biological (sex) and sociological (gender) influences on use, misuse, and recovery. Read more  

Ravven named Interim Chief Medical Officer at Brattleboro Retreat

Simha Ravven, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the Law and Psychiatry Division at Yale School of Medicine, has been appointed Chief Medical Officer (Interim) at Brattleboro Retreat, a psychiatric hospital in Brattleboro, VT. Ravven completed her Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at Yale and subsequently served as Medical Director of the Brattleboro Retreat's Birches Treatment Center prior to returning to Yale in 2016 to pursue various academic, research, and clinical interests. She returned to the hospital in 2017. Read more  

Ponce receives Paul Nelson Award from Council of Chairs of Training Councils

Allison Ponce, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, has received the Paul Nelson Award from the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC). CCTC is comprised of the presidents and chairs of the education and training associations in health service psychology with the mission of enhancing collaboration in psychology education. This is among the highest honors in professional psychology education and training. Recipients are recognized for making exceptional contributions to the collegial environment and culture of the psychology education community. Read more  

Powers, Shah honored with Future Leaders Awards

Albert Powers, MD, PhD, left, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, and Jai Shah, MD, right, a 2013 graduate of the Yale Public Psychiatry Fellowship, were honored in October with Future Leaders Awards at the 11th International Conference on Early Intervention in Mental Health in Boston. The Future Leaders Awards were created to encourage early career researchers and clinicians to continue to work in the field of early intervention. They recognize and commend researchers for early career success in the field of early intervention in mental health. Read more  

Jordan selected for 2018 Hampton University Forty Under 40 Society

Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Yale Global Mental Health Program, has been selected as a member of the 2018 Class of the Hampton University Forty Under 40 Society. The honor is given annually to 40 young alumni who are leaders in business, leadership, community, and education and/or philanthropic works. Jordan was selected for her work in the field of medicine and her commitment to reduce health disparities for communities of color. She graduated from Hampton University with a bachelor's degree in 2001. Read more 

Tampi to receive Educator of the Year Award from AAGP

Rajesh Tampi, MBBS, DFAPA, MS, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale, has been selected to receive the 2019 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) Educator of the Year Award. The award recognizes extraordinary efforts, innovations, and accomplishments that have a direct impact on the quality of geriatric psychiatry education. It will be presented at the Opening Plenary of the AAGP 2019 Annual Meeting March 1, 2019 in Atlanta. Tampi is Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Cleveland Clinic Akron General in Akron, Ohio. Read more  

Buchanan book 'Highly Commended' by British Medical Association

A book edited by Alec Buchanan, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, was one of 11 titles to be "Highly Commended" by the British Medical Association (BMA) in its BMA Medical Book Awards 2018 competition. "Care of the Mentally Disordered Offender in the Community," second edition, offers developments in the social, administrative, and clinical context within which offenders receive mental health care in the community, according to Oxford University Press, the book's publisher. BMA received over 600 submissions from publishers across all specialty categories for this year's awards. Read more 

Sloshower writes chapter in new book on plant medicines, healing, and psychedelic science

Jordan Sloshower, MD, MSc, Research Fellow in Addiction Psychiatry, has published a chapter in the book "Plant Medicines, Healing and Psychedelic Science." The chapter is titled, "Integrating Psychedelic Medicines and Psychiatry: Theory and Methods of a Model Clinic." An abstract of the chapter reads: "Over the past two decades, scientific evidence of the safety and therapeutic potential of plant medicines, such as ayahuasca and psilocybin, has grown significantly to the point where their eventual rescheduling and incorporation into formal psychiatric practice seems increasingly likely." Read more  

Is chronic anxiety a learning disorder?

Daniel Barron, MD, PhD, a third-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, writes about anxiety and its relationship to learning in an essay in Scientific American. "Perhaps measuring learning rate could benefit clinical practice. I'm hopeful, but if the history of measuring and treating heart disease is any indication, finding tidy measures of anxiety will take large, collaborative efforts over many years. Measurements of learning are still in the experimental stage, so it's best to maintain a healthy skepticism, to have a healthy learning rate." Read more  

Moore hits the road for 'American Roads to Recovery' listening tour

Brent Moore, PhD, Research Scientist in Psychiatry, and a college friend hopped aboard an RV in early October for a unique listening tour across America. While there will be ample time for sight-seeing, the real purpose of this road trip is to meet people who have overcome substance use and addiction, and to learn how they did it. Moore has spent two decades researching treatments for substance use disorders, a career he has found incredibly rewarding. Still, he believes there is much to be learned from people who have struggled with substance use. Read more 

Faculty, trainees present at American Psychiatric Association IPS conference in Chicago

Six Yale Department of Psychiatry faculty and trainees presented at the American Psychiatric Association IPA conference in Chicago in October. The title of their symposium was Immigration and Mental Health. Participating were, from left, Kashif Ahmed, MD, (presenter); Marco Ramos, MD, (presenter); Esperanza Diaz, MD, (discussant); Andres Barkil-Oteo, MD, (presenter); Michelle Silva, PsyD, (presenter); and Falisha Gilman, MD, (chair).

Gordon a panelist on SAMHSA virtual roundtable

Derrick M. Gordon, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Research, Policy and Program on Male Development at The Consultation Center, participated as a panelist on a virtual roundtable September 20 held to increase awareness about the mental health needs and vulnerabilities of African American boys. The panel, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), featured emerging data on the age-related disparities in mental health outcomes for African American boys and related policy and practice implications. Read more  

Grenough presents workshops in Argentina

Millie Grenough, LCSW, MAT, MSW, Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry, presented three days of workshops in Argentina in October. Among the highlights was her presentation "Neuroscience & Practical Stress Management" for 200 people at a Jewish community center. She also spoke about practical strategies for managing stress and how to share those strategies with others. She enjoyed an extended visit at an outpatient clinic for people with schizophrenia-related disorders where she presented learning activities to patients and parents of patients. Grenough's program, Oasis in the Overwhelm, offers 60-second strategies to achieve balance in a busy world. Learn more 

Correctional psychiatry: challenges and rewards

Prisons are the largest mental health facilities in the United States, according to Reena Kapoor, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Program Director of the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at Yale School of Medicine. Kapoor spoke in a recent Psychiatry Advisor article about the practice of psychiatry in prisons, where estimates are that 15 percent of inmates have serious mental illness. Kapoor has worked at two correctional facilities in Connecticut, including the primary prison for inmates with mental illness. Read more  

Hallucinations are everywhere

If you've ever felt the buzz of your phone against your thigh only to realize the sensation was entirely in your head, you've had a sensory perception of something that isn't real. And that, according to Philip Corlett, PhD, left, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, is what makes a hallucination. Research on hallucinations by Corlett and Albert Powers, MD, PhD, right, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, was recently featured in The Atlantic. Read more 

The nonexistant: How the world came together to decide whether climate refugees are a real thing

Maya Prabhu, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, is quoted in a Weather Channel feature story about the plight of climate refugees and the efforts underway globally to assist them. Prabhu was an organizer of a two-day conference held at Yale in October that focused on climate induced migration and displacement. She said a World Bank report suggests that by 2050, 143 million people will be displaced by either slow moving weather events, such as rising ocean waters which will submerge entire islands, or dramatic weather events such as hurricanes. Read more  

In Memoriam

Dr. Herbert D. Kleber

Dr. Herbert D. Kleber, a dear friend, respected colleague, and alumnus of the Yale Department of Psychiatry Residency Program and faculty, died in October while vacationing with his family on the island of Santorini in Greece. He was 84. Dr. Kleber joined the Yale faculty in 1968 and founded the Drug Dependence Unit at Yale University. He also created the Addiction Prevention and Treatment (APT) Foundation to accelerate the delivery of substance abuse treatment and to enhance the substance abuse research mission. He left Yale in 1989 for a position in the Bush White House, and was Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University at the time of his death. Read more 

Alumni Spotlight

Yeung serves as clinical leader for development of novel treatment for migraines

Paul Yeung, MD, MPH, a former resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry and former chief fellow at the Yale Child Study Center, served as the clinical leader for the development of a novel treatment for migraine headaches. Fremanezumab is a monoclonal antibody that binds the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) ligand and blocks its binding to the CGRP receptor. This innovative approach to treating migraine headaches was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Sept. 14. Yeung oversaw the pivotal clinical studies that were published in two journals. Read more 

Alumni, please submit your news and updates to

Yale Mood Disorders Research Program participates in American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Walk


Members of the Yale Mood Disorders Research Program participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Walk at Great River Park in East Hartford on Sept. 29. Members set up a table and provided information about suicide and its prevention, and about its research into suicide prevention and suicide in mood disorders. Participants included, in top photo from left, Robert Hickman, who is doing research with the program toward a master's degree; Erin Carrubba, Research Coordinator; Hilary Blumberg, MD, John and Hope Furth Professor of Psychiatric Neuroscience and Professor of Psychiatry, and Director of the Yale Mood Disorders Research Program; and Bernadette Lecza, Research Coordinator and Therapist. In the photo below, Blumberg is interviewed by a student journalist at the walk, which raised over $53,000 for suicide research, education, advocacy, and prevention.

Clinical faculty gather at Greenberg Conference Center


The Yale Department of Psychiatry's annual Clinical Faculty Gathering was held Sept. 24 at The Greenberg Conference Center in New Haven. Dozens of clinical faculty members gathered to socialize over drinks and appetizers, and to listen to presentations. John H. Krystal, MD, Chair of Psychiatry, provided an update on recent department news and accomplishments, and Deepak Cyril D'Souza, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, presented the talk, "Marijuana for Psychiatric Indications: Weeding out the Evidence."

Wilkins presents at fall meeting of Psychiatric Society of Virginia


Kirsten Wilkins, MD, left, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, was invited to speak at the fall meeting of the Psychiatric Society of Virginia in Staunton, Va., on Sept. 29. The meeting theme was "Stigma in Mental Health," and Wilkins spoke on "Ageism in Mental Healthcare." She is pictured with Stephanie Peglow, DO, a graduate of the Yale Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship who is on faculty at Eastern Virginia Medical School. The topic of Peglow's presentation was "Stigma in Substance Use Disorders."

Khan receives Lions University Doctorate of Lions Degree


Shaukat Khan, MBBS, left, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, received the Lions University Doctorate of Lions Degree at the Lions International's annual USA/Canada forum in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 20. He received a pin at the ceremony from Mark Lyon, right, Lions International New England Regional Director. The Doctorate of Lions Degree focuses on skills needed to be a training facilitator for adult volunteers affilated with Lions International. Khan completed the course on his own time from home. He recently completed his term as District Governor of Lions Club International, District 23A. Currently he is President of the Connecticut Psychiatric Society. He is a staff psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven and Medical Director of Yale Behavioral Health Services in Hamden.

Yale New Haven Hospital Auxiliary hosts 66th annual meeting


More than 100 members and supporters of the Yale New Haven Hospital Auxiliary gathered Sept. 13 for the organization's 66th annual meeting, where highlights from the past year were shared. Among the speakers was Cynthia Wilson, MD, left, Unit Chief, Inpatient Adolescent Psychiatry, who spoke about the "bright and dark side of being a teenager." Others attending the meeting were Mark Sevilla, RN, center, Vice President, Behavioral Health and Emergency Services, and Anne Marke Chuckrey, right, President of the Auxiliary. Auxiliary members work to develop initiatives that support the hospital. They participate in many philanthropic endeavors, including the Toy Closet Program, which provides pediatric patients with an age-appropriate toy or small gift when they are discharged from the children's hospital.

'Sunflower guy' beautifies the grounds at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital


Although law enforcement was his professional calling, Kerry Deegan would be happy being a farmer. The senior protective services patrol officer at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital (YPH) is affectionately known around the hospital as the "sunflower guy." Each year in the late spring he scatters several varieties of sunflower seeds near the entrances to YNHH facilities. The seeds usually sprout within two weeks and grow quickly in the warm summer sun. By August, yellow, red, and pink sunflowers are in full bloom, some so tall that they tower above people's heads. Read more  

Psychiatry Grand Rounds

Friday, October 26, 2018; 10:15-11:30 am

The Manifestation and Impact of Microaggressions

Aisha M.B. Holder, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Columbia Health, Columbia University

CMHC Auditorium, 34 Park St.

Friday, November 2, 2018; 10:15-11:30 am

2018 Yale Department of Psychiatry Chair's Award

Nii Addy, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine

CMHC Auditorium, 34 Park St.

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