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Celebrating Women in the Department of Psychiatry: Past, Present and Future


The Yale Department of Psychiatry kicked off a year-long celebration of women's contributions to the department with a Grand Rounds titled, "Celebrating Women in the Department of Psychiatry: Past, Present and Future." The September 7 event at the Connecticut Mental Health Center featured a panel discussion, a talk about opportunities and challenges for women in academic life, and a question and answer session. Participating in the celebration were, front row, from left, Jeanne Steiner, DO; Ismene Petrakis, MD; Carolyn Mazure, PhD; Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, PhD; Kimberly Yonkers, MD; and Esperanza Diaz, MD; back row, from left, Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, PhD; Jessica Isom, MD, MPH; Tamika Hollis, MBA; John Krystal, MD; Natalie Lastra, MD; Cindy Crusto, PhD; and Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD. The department's celebration coincides with the 100-year anniversary of women at Yale School of Medicine. The medical school has commemorated this milestone in a variety of ways, including a symposium, exhibition, and videos.

100 Years of Women, Yale Department of Psychiatry: Meet Gabriela Garcia Vassallo, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry


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 for the next year in this newsletter. The first to be featured is Gabriela Garcia Vassallo, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry.

Q: Tell us about your journey in the department.

A: "My journey in Yale's Psychiatry department has been one of self-discovery, and finding my professional voice has become a priority. When I arrived two years ago I knew my clinical strengths, but since arriving here I've also uncovered an interest in administration, policy making, and a passion for teaching. Raised in a culture where women are often told 'calladita te ves mas bonita,' (when you're quiet you are prettier), I was afraid to be outspoken professionally as I worried it might lead to retaliation. Women mentors in my department have taught me the opposite, to be seen you must be heard; to make a difference for our patients, who are often marginalized and stigmatized, we must speak up and advocate. I'm fortunate to have female mentors who inspire me and help build my self-confidence."

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

A: "My biggest challenge is self-inflicted and possibly arises from the intersectionality of being Hispanic and a woman. I suffer from 'Imposter Syndrome' and often find myself thinking, 'I don't deserve this.' I worry others will discover I can't survive without spellcheck, I can't pronounce some medical terms, that it can take me hours to formulate an email, that I have a short attention span since having children, or that though I was once an actor, I am terrified of public speaking. Did I mention that I have a messy car and 23,839 messages in my inbox? The list goes on and on. But I'm willing to lean into the discomfort."

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

A: "Achieving a work-life balance is something I revisit often as the scale can easily tilt toward work. The key for maintaining balance has been 'tuning into' my children, observing their behavior and listening to their concerns. They will not openly say 'mommy we miss you, spend more time with us,' but they will manifest their feelings through their behaviors. As children grow, their needs change and my schedule adapts to these changes. In addition, I try to delegate chores when possible so our free time is 'family time' not 'cleaning and laundry time.' My husband and I make an effort to maintain an egalitarian relationship where we do our best to share home and childcare responsibilities. It's true when people say 'it takes a village to raise a child.' There would certainly be less of a balance in my life without my mother who has been an enormous help to the whole family."

Q: What are some lessons learned?

A: "Negotiations are all around us, at work, parenting, in marriage. Developing effective negotiating skills and identifying the appropriate time to negotiate is difficult and requires patience. Not being the most gifted negotiator, I've made sure to reach out to mentors for recommendations and taken advantage of opportunities to watch others negotiate. I've learned to manage my time, maintaining some flexibility for the unexpected. I try not to take things personally, ask for help when I need it and admit when I don't know the answer to something. Most important, I'm learning to be kind to myself."

Q: What advice would you give to women now?

A: "Strive to live outside of your comfort zone, it's a scary place but where self-discovery happens. Finding a supportive mentor in a nurturing environment makes it easier to challenge yourself, fail, and try again. Support other women. Much has changed in the last century but a lot of work remains to be done. And finally, if you are a mother with a full time job, try and minimize your feelings of guilt. We lead our children by example. It's not about the quantity but the quality of time we spend with our loved ones."

Exercise linked to improved mental health, but more may not always be better

A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found that people who exercise report having 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health a month, compared to people who do not exercise. Yale researchers who contributed were, from left, Adam Chekroud, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; John H. Krystal, MD, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Professor of Neuroscience and Chair of Psychiatry; and Ralitza Gueorguieva, PhD, Director of Biostatistics in Psychiatry. Read more 

Marriage of imaging and genetics opens new view of brain function

Neuroimaging has revolutionized the study of the brain, but can provide no information about what is actually happening at a molecular level in humans. Scientists at Yale have developed new approaches to link gene expression patterns to brain signals captured by imaging. Their study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Alan Anticevic, PhD, left, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, co-authored the study with John Murray, PhD, right, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Physics. Read more  

Memory's marvels explained by cellular modules

How do house hunters who visit 20 homes daily still recall details of the master bedroom of a specific one? Our memories can perform this neat trick because of the existence of modules of cells preformed based on prior experiences that can be triggered and recombined in the hippocampus to rapidly encode new experiences, suggests a new study by Yale researchers. George Dragoi, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience, is senior author of the study, which was published in Neuron. Read more  

Acute and longer-term outcomes using ketamine as a clinical treatment at the Yale Psychiatric Hospital

Yale researchers, including first author Samuel Wilkinson, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, describe in a paper published in Biological Psychiatry their experience providing ketamine as a clinical treatment to patients with severe and treatment-resistant mood disorders. Yale in 2014 began to provide ketamine as an off-label therapy to patients who were not able to participate in research protocols. The paper describes the researchers' experience over 30 months providing ketamine as a clinical treatment. Read more  

Even quick meditation aids cognitive skills

College students who listen to a 10-minute meditation tape complete simple cognitive tasks more quickly and accurately than peers who listen to a "control" recording on a generic subject, researchers at Yale School of Medicine and Swarthmore College report. The study, published in Frontiers of Neuroscience, shows even people who have never meditated before can benefit from even a short meditation practice. Hedy Kober, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, was senior author of the study. Read more  

Driven exercise in the absence of binge eating: Implications for purging disorder

To understand exercise and purging disorder better, a study by Yale Department of Psychiatry researchers Janet Lydecker, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, and Carlos Grilo, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, and published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders compared people who reported regular driven exercise in the absence of binge eating with people who reported regular vomiting/laxative misuse in the absence of binge eating. Read more 

Screening homeless veterans for a voluntary money management skills training program

Yale researchers, including first author Theddeus Iheanacho, MBBS, DTM&H, co-wrote a paper published in the American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation that examines need, interest, and participation in recovery-oriented money-management training groups among homeless veterans. The researchers implemented a recovery-oriented money management system for veterans with limited income who were or recently had been homeless. The study sample included veterans who received services through a U.S. Housing and Urban Development VA Supported Housing program. Read more 

Fairy tales and the education and practice of psychiatry

Ryan Wallace, MD, MPH, a former Yale Department of Psychiatry resident and current fellow, and Zheala Qayyum, MBBS, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, are the first and senior authors, respectively, of a paper published in Academic Psychiatry that delves into the relationship between fairy tales and psychiatry. Wallace and Qayyum organized and executed an elective course in the Yale Psychiatry Residency Program that explained the role of fairy tales in clarifying concepts in child and adolescent psychiatry. Read more  

The role of civil commitment in the opioid crisis

Ish Bhalla, MD, left, and Rocksheng Zhong, MD, MHS, right, former forensic psychiatry fellows in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, wrote about civil commitment in the context of the opioid crisis in an article published in The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. The piece was included as part of a larger series of articles published in the journal by Yale affiliates, including representatives from Yale School of Medicine, Yale Law School, Yale School of Public Health, and Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. Read the article / Learn more about the series  

Deprescribing antipsychotics: a guide for clinicians

From left, Swapnil Gupta, MD, MBBS, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; John Cahill, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; and Rebecca Miller, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry are the co-authors of a paper in BJ Psych Advances that discusses the key points around deprescribing antipsychotic medications in psychiatry, including identifying risks and benefits and considerations around timing. Read more 

Tsai edits new book on homelessness among U.S. veterans

Jack Tsai, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Yale Division of Mental Health Services and Treatment Outcomes Research, has edited a new book called "Homelessness Among U.S. Veterans." According to publisher Oxford University Press the book "synthesizes the new glut of research on veteran homelessness -- geographic trends, root causes, effective and ineffective interventions to mitigate it -- in a format that provides a needed reference as this public health fight continues to be fought." Read more 

Yonkers recruited to head Psychological Medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital

Kimberly A. Yonkers, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology (Chronic Disease), and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Director of the Center for Wellbeing of Women and Mothers at Yale School of Medicine, has been recruited to lead the Section of Psychological Medicine within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health of Yale New Haven Hospital. Yonkers' appointment concludes a highly competitive national search that considered leading candidates from around the country. She has served as the section's interim director since last year. Read more 

Pittenger appointed to new position of Assistant Chair for Translational Research

Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Yale OCD Research Program, has accepted the position of Assistant Chair of the Department of Psychiatry for Translational Research. Pittenger will be tasked with advancing efforts within the department to enhance the translation of basic research findings to clinical research, and the back-translation of clinical advances to basic research. He also will interface with groups across the Yale campus engaged in parallel efforts including precision medicine initiatives and clinical research cores. Read more 

Goldenberg appointed to state panel that will study psychiatric workforce shortage in Connecticut

Matthew N. Goldenberg, MD, MSc, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Section Chief for Psychiatric Emergency Services at Yale New Haven Hospital, has been appointed to a state task force that will study the anticipated shortage of psychiatrists in Connecticut. The Task Force to Study the Projected Shortage in the Psychiatry Workforce in the State was created by the Legislature. The 12-member panel will examine the causes of and potential solutions to avoid or reduce the projected shortage of psychiatrists statewide. Read more  

Tampi named Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Cleveland Clinic Akron General

Rajesh Tampi, MBBS, DFAPA, MS, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale, has been named Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Cleveland Clinic Akron General in Akron, Ohio. Tampi will also serve as Section Head of Geriatric Psychiatry for the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Cleveland Clinic. Tampi completed his Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship at Yale School of Medicine, and has received three Outstanding Teaching Attending Awards and the Chairman's Award for outstanding teaching, research, and clinical work from the department. Read more  

Zimbrean receives Fulbright teaching award

Paula Zimbrean, MD, FAPA, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, has received a prestigious Fulbright teaching award to implement a curriculum in psychosomatic medicine (consultation-liaison psychiatry) in Romania. The duration of the award is four months. Zimbrean will work with internists and medical educators from Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine, a large medical school with over 6,000 students in Cluj Napoca, Romania. Zimbrean received her medical degree from the medical school in 1998. Read more  

Ponce presented with 2018 Friend of the Association of Psychology Training Clinics award

Allison Ponce, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, was presented with the 2018 Friend of the Association of Psychology Training Clinics (APTC) award at the American Psychological Association (APA) annual convention in San Francisco in August. The APTC is the national organization for directors of psychology training clinics. The purpose of this award is to honor an individual who demonstrates an exemplary history of dedication and support for high standards of training and practice in professional psychology doctoral training clinics. Read more  

Corlett honored by British Association for Psychopharmacology

Philip R. Corlett, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, has been awarded the British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP) Senior Non-Clinical Award at this year's BAP summer meeting held in July. BAP awards are given out annually to reward excellence in both clinical and non-clinical psychopharmacology. Nominations are reviewed by a panel of BAP officers and council members. BAP promotes research and education in psychopharmacology and related areas. Formed in 1974, it is the largest such national association in Europe, and the second largest in the world. Read more  

Isom, Balasuriya, Gallego accepted to 2018 Harvard Macy Future Academic Clinician-Educators program

Jessica Isom, MD, MPH, left, a fourth-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and third-year residents Lily Balasuriya, MD, MMS, center, and Joe Gallego, MD, right, will participate in the 2018 Harvard Macy Future Academic Clinican-Educators program to be held Dec. 8-10 in Boston. The program works with post-graduate trainees who seek to develop skills in teaching and medical education curriculum development. Read more  

Esiobu receives travel award to attend Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry meeting

Nkemka Esiobu, MD, MPH, a fourth-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, has been selected to receive a Trainee Travel Award from the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry (ACLP). The award will fund Esiobu's attendance at the ACLP's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 13-17. The Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry represents psychiatrists dedicated to the advancement of medical science, education, and health care for people with comorbid psychiatric and general medical conditions, and provides national and international leadership to further those goals. Read more  

Reed, Neustadter awarded competitive fellowships to present research at Austen Riggs Center

Erin Reed and Eli Neustadter, Yale School of Medicine students who conduct research with Yale Department of Psychiatry faculty and researchers, have been awarded competitive fellowships for the conference, "DUALITY'S END: Computational Psychiatry and the Cognitive Science of Representation" Sept. 28-30 at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Mass. Read more  

Balasuriya, Diaz Stransky awarded SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Program grants

Lily Balasuriya, MD, MMS, left, a third-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and Andrea Diaz Stransky, MD, right, clinical fellow in the Child Study Center, have been awarded Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Minority Fellowship Program grants through the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This highly competitive and innovative fellowship strives to reduce health disparities and enhance the behavioral healthcare outcomes for underserved and minority populations. Read more 

The docs want in: Democratic MDs talk health care on their campaign trails

Matthew Goldenberg, MD, MSc, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Section Chief for Psychiatric Emergency Services at Yale New Haven Hospital, was quoted in a Washington Post article about the efforts of 11 Democratic doctors who are running for Congress. "Electing Democratic doctors would certainly change the face of medicine in Congress, and perhaps lend more credence in that body to more liberal health-care policies," said Goldenberg, who has researched political behavior and advocacy among doctors. Read more 

How freely should scientists share their data?

Daniel Barron, MD, PhD, a third-year resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, writes in Scientific American about the process of data sharing in science -- in particular the Open Science movement, the belief that scientific methods and data should be freely available. "The overall goal is to make science as democratic and accessible as possible. To do this, Open Scientists make their data ... openly available to the public. Open Scientists also share with their colleagues, which, as I discovered as a graduate student, can be a great boon to science," Barron wrote. Read more 

Eight Yale affiliates awarded NARSAD Young Investigator Grants

Eight Yale neuroscientists have been awarded research grants through the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation's NARSAD Young Investigator Grant Program. The grants for 2018 address exceptional research questions across diagnostic categories, from schizophrenia and depression to anxiety, PTSD, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, addiction and bipolar disorder, among others. The foundation has awarded more than $394 million in grants since 1987, funding more than 5,700 research projects. Read more 

$20 million grant will fund continued research by Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science

The National Institute of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have renewed a $20 million grant for the Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) to continue to investigate the influence of flavors and sweeteners, and other constituents, on the appeal and addictive potential of traditional tobacco products and newer products like e-cigarettes. Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, PhD, left, Professor of Psychiatry, and Stephanie O'Malley, PhD, right, Professor of Psychiatry, are the co-directors of TCORS. Read more 

PRCH receives grant to develop New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center

The Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH) has received a five-year Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant to develop a Mental Health Technology Transfer Center for the New England Region. One of 10 new regional centers around the country, the New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center aims to improve the quality of care provided to people with mental illnesses and their families. Larry Davidson, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, is Director of PRCH. Read more 

VanDeusen, Parke chair workshop meeting in New York

Timothy VanDeusen, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and an attending psychiatrist in the Young Adult Service, and Susan Parke, MD, second from right, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, chaired a three-hour workshop in March at the annual meeting of the American Society of Adolescent Psychiatry in New York. The title of the workshop was, "A Developmental Approach in Treating Transitional Age Youth (TAY) with Serious Mental Illness (SMI)." Co-chairing the meeting with VanDeusen and Parke were fellow child and adolescent psychiatrists Hyun Jung Kim, MD, left, from McClean Hospital in Boston, and Cynthia Wilson, MD, from Yale New Haven Hospital. All four doctors treat adolescents and young adults with serious mental illness in inpatient and outpatient settings.

Alumni Spotlight

Cyrus selected for APA Jeanne Spurlock Congressional Fellowship

Kali Cyrus, MD, MPH, a 2017 graduate of the Yale Psychiatry Residency Program, has been selected as the 2018-19 American Psychiatric Association Jeanne Spurlock Congressional Fellow. The 10-month fellowship provides an opportunity for a psychiatry resident or early career psychiatrist with significant interest in child and/or minority mental health advocacy to work in a congressional office as a health legislative assistant. Cyrus is based in Washington, D.C., and is working in the office of Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn. Read more 

Alumni, please submit your news and updates to

Psychiatry Grand Rounds

Friday, September 21, 2018; 10:15-11:30 am

Understanding Racial Trauma

Monnica Williams, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Connecticut

CMHC Auditorium, 34 Park St.

Friday, September 28, 2018; 10:15-11:30 am

Rebellious Psychiatry: Where Mental Health Meets Social Justice

Mychal Denzel Smith, New York Times bestselling author

Harkness Auditorium, 333 Cedar St.

Conferences and Events

Friday, September 28, 2018; 8:00 am-4:30 pm

Rebellious Psychiatry: Where Mental Health Meets Social Justice

In its inaugural year, the Rebellious Psychiatry conference brought together activists, artists, consumers, mental health professionals, and students to form a strong, interdisciplinary coalition for social justice. The conversations at RebPsych2017 helped attendees understand that there are multiple forms of justice that operate in the field of mental health. This year's conference will build upon that foundation, seeking to explore and unite these "multiple justices."

Harkness Auditorium, Yale School of Medicine, 333 Cedar St.

Learn more and register  

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