Message on Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from Robert Hendren, DO, Professor and Department Vice Chair

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Hendren, Robert 

UCSF Department of Psychiatry

Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

“Where are we going? What have we done?”

A New Year's Greeting from Dr. Robert Hendren

I have very much enjoyed my first 6-months at UCSF and have appreciated the support and enthusiasm for building our Division from so many of you. The Division and the Department have a rich and strong history and I am confident that we will grow and develop in exciting ways.

Here are five focused goals for the Division that I have shared and developed with many of you:

  1. Further develop partnerships to build a model community-based system of mental health care for children and families in San Francisco. I envision our Division being a strong part of an interrelated “web of support” bringing together public health, primary care, schools, faith and community-based organizations and juvenile justice with child/adolescent/young adult mental health infused into each of these layers rather than being a separate layer that is accessed only after a serious emotional disorder develops. Through this collaboration, our “silos” will become more permeable and we will demonstrate improved outcome/cost or value. Someday, I hope that we can develop a child/family/community center for mental health that will be a meeting place for all who are interested in strengthening the mental health of youth in our community. Key Division faculty and Department of Public Health mental health leadership have begun meeting to discuss additional collaborations and plans to involve the key groups mentioned above.
  2. Translational Research encompassing interrelated bench (biological mechanisms) to bedside (T1 research) to practice (T2 outcome research) is increasingly what research funding agencies are looking for and it makes good sense. The translational researcher needs to have basic science knowledge and clinical wisdom or there needs to be a strong collaboration between people with these backgrounds. We have begun recruitment for two child and adolescent psychiatry translational researchers and have several applications already. We will soon be announcing our translational pilot grants to help fund partnerships between researchers with potential biological mechanisms\biomarkers and mental health clinicians working with young patients at LPPI and SFGH. The UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has agreed to help us identify potential partners.
  3. A high quality clinical trials program is necessary to bring new, translational ideas about treatment to the bedside. We have combined the LPPI ADHD and the Autism clinical trials programs and we are rapidly expanding our investigator initiated clinical trials while keeping our team at FDA standards by continuing a few industry sponsored clinical trials. The clinical trials program will be available to researchers with a novel treatment idea so that translational researchers will not need to design and conduct state of the art trials on their own.
  4. Developing our Autism Clinic and research program is a high priority given the increasing recognition of the disorder, the rapidly expanding research in the area, the model autism research represents for other neurodevelopmental disorders and the historical strength of UCSF in this area. We have redesigned the UCSF Autism Clinic to make it more interdisciplinary. The Bay Area Autism Consortium, representing a collaboration between UCSF, Stanford, Kaiser, and the Department of Public Health, will have its first day-long retreat in January to discuss ways autism research can benefit from pooling our regional clinical and research resources. We are also exploring collaborations with autism related clinical programs in the region to provide integrated, research-based, ongoing treatment oversight and monitoring.
  5. We are striving to make our education and training programs highly innovative using the latest web-based and tele-education and consultation technology. We are also increasing our interdisciplinary and inter-institutional (LPPI & SFGH) training whenever possible. Our Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Training Program is adding several new innovations. A year-long research course started in September 2009 and is designed to go through both years of training. We are developing a research track for one or two interested and qualified fellows providing up to 30% release time in the second year. We are also developing an advocacy course and an advocacy track with release time for collaborative community projects in the second year of training.

Subspecialty Focus Research Groups and Clinics are growing out of our Child/Adolescent/Young Adult Research Collaboration Group (Youth RCG) to further develop specialty programs in our clinics that also have a strong research component. This includes the Autism Clinic mentioned earlier, expanding the ADHD Clinic, collaborating with the Anxiety Disorders Program and developing a broad-based developmental trauma research and clinical program.

The Young Adult and Family Center (YAFC) has grown remarkably in the past several years and just received a $5 million gift from the Charles Schwab Foundation providing stability and continued growth. Specialty clinics in the YAFC include Adolescent Assessment Clinic, Consultation-liaison with Adolescent Medicine Program, Coping with Depression Program, Dialectical Behavior Therapy–Adolescence Program, Eating Disorder Program, e-Therapeutics Initiative, and Intensive Family Therapy Clinic. The YAFC is committed to advancing the knowledge base of best practices through increased clinical research.

The Department of Psychiatry will soon hire a new Development Officer. We have many ideas for how members of our community can partner with us to help children and families grow in mentally healthy ways. The first year or two of the Translational Research Pilot Program described above should demonstrate results in innovation and leveraging grant support which will demonstrate its value for donor support. We also think the specialty tracks and research and in advocacy may be of interest to potential supporters. We have several highly qualified psychiatrists and psychologists whose research and community work would be greatly enhanced through an endowed chair. We also have a child and adolescent psychiatry lecture series that could be supported and named. We will continue to demonstrate the value of creating and supporting a Child and Adolescent Center at UCSF/SFGH whose mission is “to advance infant, child and adolescent mental health in all communities, with a special emphasis on the most vulnerable, through leadership in clinical care, research, education, and public policy.”

I hope that you share our excitement about the directions the Division is growing. Please let me know if you have ideas about any of these areas or any others you think we should consider. Collaboration is the key to our success and we look forward to every opportunity to do more together to help children and families grow in mentally healthy ways.


Leadership in research, education, psychiatric care and public service