P&S News

Schizophrenia Expert to Lead Psychiatry, Psychiatric Institute

Jeffrey Lieberman, right, with J. John Mann, professor of psychiatry
PHOTOGRAPH BY EVE VAGG
Jeffrey Lieberman, right, with J. John Mann, professor of psychiatry
ONLY SEVEN DAYS INTO HIS TENURE AS the new chairman of psychiatry at P&S and director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., joked to his audience in Psychiatry's Grand Rounds that he had already completed one departmental goal: filling a hole in the Grand Rounds schedule with his talk, titled "Coming to Columbia and New York State Psychiatric Institute: A New Beginning," in which he outlined his vision for the department and institute.
"This is probably the best psychiatry department in the world and one with a unique public-private partnership," said Dr. Lieberman, who assumed the posts Jan. 1. "My intention is to enable the department to sustain its success, make our psychiatric services the 'Mayo Clinic' for persons around the world needing care, and use our national and international influence to define the standard of psychiatric care everywhere."
In the talk, Dr. Lieberman described himself as an involved and accessible leader, who leads by consensus, works transparently, and wants to foster good citizenship and teamwork within the department. He plans to spend his first six months listening and learning about the department then develop a strategic plan in the second six months. "I don't want to do anything too big or too fast," he said.
He listed excessive decentralization, limited junior faculty development, and limited core resources as administrative factors that impede progress. Scientifically, he aspires for more growth in the areas of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, geriatrics, and child psychiatry (especially such neurodevelopmental disorders as autism) and, additionally, he plans to intensively enhance research in genetics, neuroimaging, and psychotherapeutics. Most importantly, he intends to integrate the strength of the basic neuroscience research at Columbia to a greater degree into the Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Lieberman, who is also director of the Lieber Center for Schizophrenia Research and psychiatrist-in-chief at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, was announced for the posts in November. He had been the Thad and Alice Eure Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He also was professor of pharmacology and radiology and director of the Mental Health and Neuroscience Clinical Research Center.
He is the principal investigator and director of the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) Research Program. The $61 million National Institute of Mental Health-funded effort is intended to determine which antipsychotic drugs are best for treating patients with schizophrenia and disruptive behaviors associated with Alzheimer's disease. Data collection is complete, and Dr. Lieberman hopes to have data analyzed this year.
His research has focused on the neurobiology, pharmacology, and treatment of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. He has authored more than 300 scientific papers and is a member of the Institute of Medicine. He has received grants from the NIMH, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and the Stanley Foundation.
He was recruited to UNC in 1996 from research leadership positions at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Previously, he held positions at SUNY and Mount Sinai.
He earned his medical degree at George Washington University, completed his internship and residency at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center of New York/New York Medical College, and completed a research fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Doris Duke Foundation Renews Clinical Research Fellowships at P&S

P&S IS ONE OF 10 MEDICAL SCHOOLS NATIONWIDE THAT WILL benefit from renewal of a clinical research fellowship program for medical students. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announced the renewal in December of grants totaling $5 million to support new classes of fellows beginning in July 2005. Each grant is for three years.
Established in 2000, the program is the first in the United States to focus exclusively on clinical research for medical students. Since its launch, the program has enabled more than 250 medical students to take one year off from medical school to receive hands-on clinical research training at P&S and nine other leading American medical schools.
A key feature of the program is the opportunity for students to work with leading physician-scientists who have agreed to serve as mentors. Students at any U.S. medical school are eligible to apply for the 12-month fellowship at a participating school. Each school selects at least five fellows per year and matches them with clinical research mentors. For the fellowship year that begins July 1, 2005, P&S expects to select at least seven fellows, including up to three students from other medical schools. The P&S program is highly sought among applicants. For the 2004-2005 year, P&S received 63 applications for 13 positions, significantly above the number of applications other programs receive.
Before renewing the program, the foundation asked outside experts to review the program overall and at each school. The P&S program was found to be "among the top of the participating schools" with an "exceptionally strong" institutional commitment to the program, with support from P&S, many departments and mentors, the Irving Center for Clinical Research, and the Mailman School of Public Health.
At P&S, the program leader is Donald W. Landry, M.D., professor of medicine and director of nephrology and clinical pharmacology and experimental therapeutics in the Department of Medicine. Jaime S. Rubin, Ph.D., acting associate dean and acting associate vice president for research administration, is program administrator. Drew Memmott, director of special projects in the Office of Research Administration, is also critical to the program's administration.
Since Columbia's first class of fellows in 2001-2002, 39 medical students from P&S and other medical schools have participated as Doris Duke fellows at P&S, the highest number of fellows among the participating schools.

Bracelet Project Supports Diabetes Center

TWO PATIENTS AT THE NAOMI BERRIE DIABETES CENTER AT Columbia started an initiative last fall that received wide media coverage and is generating funds for Columbia clinical care and research.
Sydney Davis, 12, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 5. Her friend, Daniel Rosen, 13, was diagnosed two days after he turned 9. The New Jersey youths wanted to do a charitable project in honor of their 13th birthdays (their bat and bar mitzvah projects) to raise money for research toward a diabetes cure. They designed a rubber bracelet that says "CURE DIABETES TODAY" and sold the bracelets in their local community to benefit the Berrie Center. The bracelet was modeled on the yellow "Livestrong" bracelets that Lance Armstrong created to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
Orders for bracelets have come in from as far away as Kuwait and Hawaii. Even students in other New Jersey towns participated as part of their community service activities agenda. Sydney and Daniel want to keep the momentum going through 2005 and hope to raise significant amounts of money for diabetes research. They ran through their initial production of 10,000 bracelets within the first few weeks. A December 2004 article in the New York Times is likely to increase demand.
Contributors receive one "Cure Diabetes Today" bracelet for every $5 contribution. Contributions will help the Berrie Center provide clinical care while pursuing research aimed at finding a cure for diabetes. Go to the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center Web site for details: http://nbdiabetes.org/news/sydney.html.

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