A New Clue into the Genetic Contribution to Addiction

Posted: September 30th, 2014

Image Source: drjanet.tv

A gene essential for normal brain development, and also linked to autism spectrum disorders, plays a critical role in addiction-related behaviors, according to Harvard Medical School investigators at McLean Hospital.

“Chronic exposure to drugs of abuse causes changes in the brain that could underlie the transition from casual drug use to addiction. By discovering the brain molecules that control the development of drug addiction, we hope to identify new treatment approaches,” Cowan said.

The Cowan lab team, led by Laura Smith, HMS research fellow in psychiatry at McLean, used animal models to show that the fragile X mental retardation protein, or FMRP, plays a critical role in the development of addiction-related behaviors.

[The findings were published in the latest issue of the neuroscience journal Neuron. (more…)

McLean’s President Honored for Outstanding Mentoring and Leadership

Posted: September 15th, 2014

Scott Rauch, M.D., President and Psychiatrist in chief of McLean Hospital

The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine recently awarded the John Shaw Billings, MD, Alumni Leadership Award to Scott L. Rauch, MD, president and psychiatrist in chief of McLean Hospital. The Billings Award is given annually to recognize an alumnus for a career of extraordinary leadership and contributions to medical progress. Recipients also deliver the commencement address at the medical school’s annual Honors Day.

"Dr. Rauch is a highly respected investigator and very quickly became a leader in his field,” said University of Cincinnati College of Medicine Dean Thomas Boat. "His success opened the door to leadership opportunities for him at the top psychiatric hospital. He is influential in his field and obviously one of the leading clinicians and investigators in the country.

Rauch also recently received the 2014 Research Mentorship Award, an award jointly sponsored by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry (AACDP). The award is given in recognition of substantial and formative contributions to the mentoring of students and residents throughout a distinguished career in psychiatric research, and honors an academic psychiatrist who has fostered the pursuit of student research in a significant manner within his/her university department. The award was presented to Rauch in May at the APA Annual Meeting in New York.

"I take pride in the positive impact I feel that I have had,” said Rauch. "While there is nothing more gratifying than helping an individual patient or family, as my career has progressed, my roles have evolved to try and be helpful through the multiplying effects of advancing science through research, mentoring others, and by developing programs, or most recently implementing a vision for McLean Hospital. Ultimately, I have been most fulfilled by seeing people and programs grow, especially when I have felt some responsibility for those positive changes.”

Dr. Rauch received his undergraduate degree with honors in Neuroscience from Amherst College and attended medical school at the University of Cincinnati. He completed his residency training in Psychiatry as well as a Radiology Research Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Dr. Rauch served for many years as Associate Chief of Psychiatry for Neuroscience Research at MGH, where he was the founding Director of the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and the MGH Division of Psychiatric Neuroscience Research and Neurotherapeutics.

Currently, Dr. Rauch is President and Psychiatrist in Chief of McLean Hospital, Chair of Partners Psychiatry and Mental Health, and holds the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Endowed Chair of Psychiatry at McLean. He also holds an appointment as Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Rauch has contributed over 350 publications to the scientific literature and serves on the editorial boards of several journals. He has received numerous honors, including the 2004 Joel Elkes Award for outstanding contributions in translational research within psychiatry.

Content sourced from a McLean Hospital press release by Jenna Brown.

TMS: A Safe, Effective, and Non-invasive Treatment for Depression

Posted: June 4th, 2014

Joan Camprodon, MD, MPH, PhD (Class of 2012), demonstrates the use of TMS on Amanda Arulpragasam, MGH Research Assistant

For patients suffering from depression, the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry now offers another treatment option – a new clinic based in Charlestown that uses transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The clinic is part of a broader effort that includes a research enterprise program, both led by Joan Camprodon, MD, MPH, PhD, (Class of 2012) director of the Laboratory for Neuropsychiatry and Neuromodulation at Mass General. Dr. Camprodon’s team aims to understand how the brain’s structure and function affect disease and how interventions such as TMS can change the mechanisms that contribute to disease.

During a TMS procedure, focused magnetic impulses are directed to the brain. The electrical currents produced stimulate nerve cells involved in mood regulation that may be underactive in diseases such as depression. By restoring the equilibrium, TMS helps reset this imbalance of chemicals. from a diseased brain to a healthy one.

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MGH/McLean Alumni and Program Faculty Receives HMS Educator Award

Posted: April 11th, 2014

The Jonathan F. Borus Outstanding Early Career Educator Award in medical student education has been awarded since 2011 to a junior faculty member at Harvard Medical School who has demonstrated exceptional promise, initiative and commitment in the area of psychiatric education. The award is named in honor of Jonathan F. Borus MD, the Stanley Cobb Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus Chair of Psychiatry at the Brigham and Women’s and Faulkner Hospitals, Director of Medical Education at BWH and Co-Chair of the Partners Education Committee, who has exerted a major and lasting impact on psychiatric undergraduate and graduate education. In addition to being a master educator and educational leader, Borus is known widely for his generous mentorship and outspoken advocacy for generations of trainees who themselves have made important contributions to medical education.

Joseph Stoklosa (pictured above, Class of 2011), psychiatrist in charge of McLean’s Psychotic Disorders Unit, has been selected by the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Psychiatry Executive Committee as the 2014 co-recipient of the Jonathan F. Borus Early Outstanding Early Educator Award.

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Unraveling the Genetic Factors Behind Schizophrenia

Posted: March 5th, 2014

Image courtesy of Alan Hoofring, Medical Arts Design Section, NIH

Oligodendrocytes (green) wrap electrical insulation called myelin around axons (purple). Image courtesy of Alan Hoofring, Medical Arts Design Section, NIH.

Schizophrenia is one of the most disabling of all psychiatric illnesses. Sadly, it affects is about 1% of the global population and often strikes early in life.

Many studies have looked into causes and potential interventions, and it has been long known that genetic factors play a role in determining the risk of developing schizophrenia. However, recent work has shown that there no single gene or small number of genes explains much of the risk for illness. Instead, groups of genes interact to create the illness.

In a new paper published in PLOS ONE (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089441), MGH/McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Program faculty Bruce M. Cohen, MD, PhD, Dost Ongur, MD, PhD (Class of 2004), and Jordan W. Smoller, MD, ScD, report promising evidence on what one of those important groups of genes may be.

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Announcing McLean’s Chief Scientific Officer

Posted: October 3rd, 2013

Joseph T. Coyle, MD, will assume the role of Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) for McLean Hospital, effective immediately. In this newly created position, Dr. Coyle will play the principal leadership role with regard to McLean’s research mission. Dr. Coyle’s leadership experience and extensive academic accomplishments make him a superb choice to serve as the CSO. His leadership will help to provide critical support and mentorship for young researchers, and enable us to even more effectively recruit and retain tomorrow’s leaders in psychiatry and neuroscience research. Importantly, the CSO will also oversee research administration at McLean, working closely with Director, Raquel Espinosa, and play a critical role at the interface with Partners Health Care and Harvard Medical School, along with McLean's CAO, Shelly Greenfield, MD, MPH.

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Spotlight on Underserved Populations through an Endowed Chair of Public and Community Psychiatry

Posted: October 1st, 2013

On September 16th 2013, a celebration was held at MGH to honor the establishment of the Michele and Howard J. Kessler Chair in Public and Community Psychiatry, with the appointment of Derri L. Shtasel, MD, MPH, as the inaugural incumbent. This chair, generously funded by the Kessler family, will help expand services for those suffering from severe and persistent mental illness, who also depend upon government and community-based agencies for their care. These illnesses are often compounded by substance use disorders, poverty, homelessness, immigration status and multiple trauma.

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Evidence-Based Research about Suicide

Posted: June 27th, 2013

Matthew K. Nock is the director of the Laboratory for Clinical and Developmental Research at Harvard. As suicide rates rise higher than murder and warfare, researchers are searching for clues and ways of predicting risk in individuals. "Last year, more active-duty U.S. soldiers killed themselves than died in combat; their suicide rate has been rising since 2004." Nock, a clinical psychologist and recipient of a MacArthur genius award, is interviewing soldiers who have recently attempted suicide. He hopes to glean patterns from these data, and use that knowledge as a path to prevention. He hopes to develop a predictive test and is currently investigating the use of the Implicit Association Test, developed by Mahzarin Banaji at Harvard.

Read the full article on the New York Times website.

Milissa Kaufman to serve as Associate Training Director

Posted: January 1st, 2013

Milissa Kaufman, MD, PhD, will begin her role as Associate Training Directors of the MGH/McLean Psychiatry Residency later this month. Kaufman, who currently serves as the director of the Hill Center for Women at McLean Hospital, will continue to fulfill both roles.

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MGH/McLean congratulates new Director of Residency Training

Posted: November 6th, 2012

On November 1, Felicia Smith stepped into her new role as Program Director for the Adult Psychiatry Residency Program.

Felicia, a 2004 graduate of the MGH/McLean residency program, currently serves as Associate Director of the Division of Psychiatry and Medicine and the MGH Psychosomatic Fellowship. She previously performed the role of Associate Residency Training Director for the residency from 2004 to 2007, and became the Director of the Acute Psychiatry Service in 2008. Dr. Smith will continue as the Associate Director of the Division of Psychiatry and Medicine, in addition to fulfilling her new duties with the residency.

Felicia’s appointment, which was announced on October 4, comes as no surprise to many in the residency program. Says MGH Chief of Psychiatry Jerry Rosenbaum, “Felicia is an ideal person to take the residency helm going forward. We could not have been happier to learn that she was enthusiastic about accepting the position.” In a statement to the residency community, McLean Hospital President Scott Rauch also expressed his excitement about the recent announcement. “Felicia is an expert clinician, a master teacher, a respected and admired colleague and leader, and will be a terrific training director.”

Over the past month, Felicia has been working closely with the outgoing Director of Residency Training, Kathy Sanders, who has accepted an appointment as Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As Felicia takes on this new challenge, please join us in extending a warm welcome and wishing her luck as our new Director of Residency Training!

Kathy Sanders to serve as Deputy Commissioner, Department of Mental Health, Massachusetts

Posted: October 15th, 2012

After 12 years of service as Program Director, Kathy Sanders announced this month that she is stepping up as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Department of Mental Health for Massachusetts oversees mental health care and policy for the entire Commonwealth. In her new role, Kathy will work closely with state Commissioner Marcia Fowler, who stepped up as head of the Department of Mental Health in February. As Deputy Commissioner, Kathy will be responsible for the standards and regulation of all state and contracted mental health inpatient and community-based programs, as well as training and research grants, which serve over 21,000 citizens suffering from severe and chronic mental illness.

The announcement comes as a great honor to the MGH/McLean Psychiatry community. “We are very proud of Kathy’s achievement,” says Justin Baker, Associate Director of the Research Concentration Program. “It is an expression both of her talents as a clinician, educator, and communicator. We are thrilled about this opportunity to extend our potential impact, and are pleased that Kathy will be able to put her expertise to use ensuring the quality of mental health care in Massachusetts.” Kathy Sanders has been a vital presence in the MGH Department of Psychiatry since she arrived in 1988 for a psychosomatic fellowship. While distinguishing herself as an attending physician in the inpatient psychiatry unit and as Director of the Acute Psychiatry Service, Kathy also served as Associate Residency Training Director for 9 years. In 2001, she took on the role of Director of the MGH McLean Residency Training, overseeing the early years of the combined residency program. Throughout her distinguished career, she has served as a primary mentor to scores of psychiatry trainees, and has launched the careers of psychiatrists who are now spread across the country and the globe.

As Kathy prepares to begin her new role on November 1, we thank her for her years of dedicated leadership and wish her well in her new position!

Teaching awards go to our faculty and residents

Posted: May 24th, 2012

Steve Seiner, MD, Associate Director of the Residency Program, won the APA Nancy C.A. Roeske Certificate of Excellence in Medical Student Teaching presented at the 2012 APA Meeting and again during the 2012 Harvard Medical School Psychiatry Medical Student Education Awards Ceremony. Oriana Vesga-Lopez, Class of 2013, was awarded one of the Harvard Medical School Resident Teaching Awards from the HMS Class of 2012.

A leader among leaders

Posted: April 25th, 2012

Dr. Kathy Sanders was recently inaugurated as the 2012-2013 President of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training (AADPRT).

Fostering research education and mentorship during residency

Posted: October 13th, 2011

In Spring 2011, the residency program was awarded an Institutional Research Education Grant (R25) from the National Institute for Mental Health. Under the leadership of Maurizio Fava MD and Shelly Greenfield MD, MPH and with support from over fifty junior and senior research faculty across our two campuses, this five-year, $250K education grant is designed to foster research training and mentorship for all residents in our program.  In addition, the grant allows the residency to further develop the Research Concentration Program, a program established in 2007 to optimize clinical and research training for residents with substantial research experience who plan to embark on psychiatric research careers.  John Denninger, MD, PhD, and Dost Ongur, MD, PhD will serve as co-director of the RCP, with recent graduate Justin Baker MD, PhD, serving as Associate Director.

Pictured, from left: John Denninger, Co-Director of the RCP; Shelly Greenfield, co-PI; Maurizio Fava, co-PI; Kathy Sanders, Training Director; Justin Baker, Associate Director of the RCP; Joy Littlefield.