Chair's Update July 2010

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Awards and Honors

Nancy Adler chaired the planning committee for an Institute of Medicine workshop on “Assessing the Human Health Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill” in New Orleans on June 22-23.  She also was awarded the 2010 Committee on Socioeconomic Status (CSES) Award for Distinguished Leadership from the CSES of the American Psychological Association (to be given at the annual convention on August 13).

Josh Gibson gave a talk on “Attachment styles in the workplace:  Impacts on mental and physical health” at the annual meeting of the Academy of Organizational and Occupational Psychiatry on March 20 that was covered in Clinical Psychiatry News on May 11.  He reported that in the workplace, workers with secure attachment have high satisfaction and good balance between work, family, and self.  Those with preoccupied attachment have job insecurity, feel they are not being recognized for their contributions, and have worse job performance.  Workers with avoidant attachment tend to be dissatisfied with coworkers, to prefer to work alone, and to have a poor work/life balance, in part because they are drawn to work in an effort to turn off and suppress the attachment system.  Attachment style was significantly associated with physical symptoms, but also primary care visits and primary care costs.  It has been suggested that treatment strategies, including support and education, should be based on knowledge of attachment styles.

Jill Horowitz, one of our clinical faculty, received the first-ever Award for Outstanding Contribution to Psychoanalysis at the 2007 Annual Dinner of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California.  Among other accomplishments, the award was given for being a founder, in 1989, of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, now known as "PINC".  PINC was founded to be uniquely progressive—the candidates study all psychoanalytic theories and they are free to choose their own training analysts and supervisors.  Jill was also a Board Member for 19 years, during which time PINC grew enormously and was admitted as a full member of the International Psychoanalytic Association.

Mark Levy is on the clinical faculty and teaches in the Psychiatry and the Law fellowship program.  He was invited by a legal continuing education enterprise, The American Conference Institute (ACI), to participate in a joint presentation on “Assessing subjective disorders” at the ACI two-day conference entitled “Litigating Disability Claims” held in Boston on June 24.  He discussed the forensic psychiatric assessment challenges when assessing disability claimants who report suffering from conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia where there are no objectively verifiable signs and symptoms of organic illness.

Ricardo Muñoz is El Centro’s inductee to the Stanford 2010 Multicultural Alumni Hall of Fame, which recognizes Stanford alumni who have distinguished themselves through exceptional advancement and success in education or career, and/or outstanding contributions to the community and society in general.  The ceremony will take place October 22.

Owen Wolkowitz and Elissa Epel were recognized in the new Inside NIMH (Summer 2010 edition). Their recently awarded R01 on the potential association between depression and a premature aging process at the cellular level was one of four projects highlighted that—according to Tom Insel—“exemplify our efforts to accelerate mental health research and to advance the NIMH Strategic Plan.”

Faculty Appointments

  • Christopher Benitez, MD:  Team Leader, Latino and Women’s Focus Unit at SFGH
  • Robin Bitner, MD:  new role as full-time clinician-educator in LPPI Adult Psychiatry Clinic and Partial Hospitilization Program
  • Christopher Daley, MD:  Attending Psychiatrist, LGBT Team at SFGH
  • Wendy Berry Mendes, PhD has been successfully searched by our Department and appointed by the Chancellor to be the first holder of the “Sarlo-Ekman Endowed Chair in the Study of Human Emotion” starting September 1.  Wendy is a social psychologist who received her PhD from UC Santa Barbara, did postdoctoral research under UCSF’s Psychology and Medicine T32, and went on to Harvard where she is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology.  She is engaged in a number of different studies, including work on self-injurious behavior, depression and its influence on creativity, emotion contagion between mother and baby, discrimination and the role of emotions, and a study on happiness using iPhones to collect data on (so far) over 30,000 participants.  She is extremely collaborative, a gifted teacher, and her work will be a great addition to ongoing research at SFGH, Laurel Heights, and Parnassus.  She is already making efforts to seek collaborations and enhance the clinical relevance of her basic emotion research.


Deborah Barnes was awarded a Department of Defense (DOD) grant to identify novel risk factors for dementia in older veterans.

Amy Byers was awarded a DOD grant to study late-life PTSD and assess its association with adverse health outcomes.

Elissa Epel is leading a UCSF team—including Liz Blackburn, Jue Lin, Eli Puterman, and medical students Jeff Krause and Sai Chan—on a “Know Your Telomeres” study taking place at LPPI this month.   The study will be measuring telomeres in 250 community women, to examine the emotional and behavioral sequelae of learning your telomere length over the following year.  A front-page Chronicle article on July 5 led to over 700 interested callers.

Yan Leykin, PhD has received a K08 (Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award) from the NIMH sponsored by Laura Dunn (primary mentor) and Ricardo Muñoz and joins our faculty on August 1.  Yan received his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 and for the past two years has been a postdoctoral fellow in our Psychology and Medicine training program.  He is interested in the range of approaches that could lead to improvements in the delivery and outcomes of empirically supported therapies for use in the treatment of mood disorders.  These include using information technology to offer treatment access to underserved populations, and understanding decision-making of depressed individuals, especially as it relates to decisions regarding treatment.  His grant is entitled, “Does depression affect quality of decisions to participate in clinical trials?”

Kim Norman founded and directs the Young Adult and Family Center, which was recently gifted a $5 million endowment from the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation.  This funding will help expand the program to provide state-of-the-art treatment to adolescents and young adults starting to experience mental illness and conduct outreach to chip away at the stigma associated with getting help.  YAFC offers adolescents ages 12 to 24 assistance through mental health clinics, adolescent medicine clinics, school-based interventions, and telemedicine.

Lauren Weiss received a UCSF Resource Allocation Program (RAP) grant to create induced pluripotent stem cell models of single-gene disorders with cognitive and behavioral phenotypes in a known signaling pathway. She is the PI of the UCSF subcontract to a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) R01 grant (PI:  Lisa Croen, Kaiser Department of Research) on “Prenatal and neonatal biomarkers for autism.”  She will lead a genetic investigation of maternal and maternal-fetal genetic risk factors for this project. She also gave an invited presentation on “The genetic architecture of autism:  What can common SNP association tell us about rare copy number variants?” at the meeting of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience in Estoril, Portugal on June 7.


Pat Arean is first author of “Problem-solving therapy and supportive therapy in older adults with major depression and executive dysfunction,” in the American Journal of Psychiatry In Advance published online on June 1, 2010.  Problem-solving therapy proved effective in reducing depressive symptoms and leading to treatment response and remission in a significant number of older patients with major depression and executive dysfunction, a population likely to be resistant to pharmacotherapy.

Vanessa Kelly is the lead author of an article with colleagues Gregory Merrill (UCB), Martha Shumway, Jennifer Alvidrez, and Alicia Boccellari in the July 2010 journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 11:144-156  titled "Outreach, engagement, and practical assistance:  Essential aspects of PTSD care for urban victims of violent crime."  The article describes SFGH’s Trauma Recovery Center's outreach and engagement model.  It examines the literature on the increased risk factors of disadvantaged inner-city residents for becoming victims of violence and for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and barriers to accessing comprehensive mental health services; discusses the limitations of evidence-based treatments for early intervention with urban victims of violence; provides a new model of care emphasizing outreach, engagement, and practical assistance; and concludes with recommendations for comprehensive hospital-based urban programs in terms of practice, policy, and research.

Alicia Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn received excellent book reviews from Guilford Press for their 2008 book, Psychotherapy with Infants and Young Children:  Repairing the Effect of Stress and Trauma on Early Attachment.  The reviews refer to the book as a "must read".  In their book they demonstrate that Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is a robust theory with practical applications for the mental health treatment of all young children from birth through age 5 years. This is especially exciting to the infant mental health community given that CPP is one of the few empirically validated psychological treatments for young children. In addition, the Oregon Department of Human Services has now included CPP in its official list of approved practices for Addictions and Mental Health Services.  CPP has been on the California list of approved practices for some time, and this new recognition of the empirical soundness of this treatment is important, particularly because Oregon is considered a national leader in promoting the adoption of evidence-based practices.  Special thanks also goes to Chandra Ghosh Ippen, the associate research director, who provided the complex sets of materials required for this achievement.

Alison May and Demian Rose published the first case report on “Varenicline withdrawal-induced delirium with psychosis” in the June 2010 American Journal of Psychiatry 167:720-1.

Ricardo Muñoz is first author of “Prevention of major depression” in the April 27, 2010 Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 6:181-212.  The review examines the conceptual and practical differences between treatment and prevention trials and the importance of identifying groups at high short-term risk for major depressive episodes to make prevention trials feasible.  It also lists the randomized controlled prevention trials that have been carried out to date and discusses the need for prevention interventions that go beyond the limits of traditional face-to-face interventions. He is also the senior author of an article entitled “Group cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression in Spanish:  Culture-sensitive manualized treatment in practice” in the August 2010 Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session 66:1-11, again demonstrating that SFGH is at the frontline of working toward the reduction of health disparities, using high-quality, evidence-based, culturally-sensitive services.

Kristine Yaffe is first author of “Posttraumatic stress disorder and risk of dementia among US Veterans” in the June 2010 Archives of General Psychiatry 67:608-613.  The study determined that in a predominantly male veteran cohort, those diagnosed as having PTSD were at a nearly two-fold higher risk of developing dementia compared with those without PTSD. She also is the keynote speaker for the Annual Meeting of the Japan Geriatrics Society in June and plenary speaker for the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in July.

UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program

Our Fresno program was very appreciative of Bob Hendren, Kevin Mack, and Craig Van Dyke for each spending the day and presenting two lectures during the UCSF Fresno Special Lecture Series throughout the spring season:  one on a topic of broad interest to a mixed audience of residents and faculty from a variety of departments, and one specifically for our Psychiatry Department Grand Rounds at Fresno.  Bob spoke on using the neurodevelopmental formulation in clinical practice and what causes autism?—how the answer guides evaluation and treatment; Kevin spoke on "trends professionalism assessment" in graduate and undergraduate medical education; and Craig spoke on global mental health and implications for the U.S. as well as the sociocultural issues in mental health related to the earthquakes in China and Haiti. 


Leadership in research, education, psychiatric care and public service