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Welcome to the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa! As the new department head, I am excited about expanding our clinical, educational, and research missions, with new commitments of resources from the university and the hospital. Having just moved from Baltimore along with my wife, kids, and dogs, I have found that much is different here, i.e., Maryland crabs vs. Iowa corn, the purple of the NFL Ravens vs. the gold of the Big Ten Hawkeyes, the congestion of urban life vs. the easy pace of a college town. But there is also much continuity. In particular, just as Johns Hopkins, where I came from, has a rich tradition in psychiatry dating to the early 20th century, so too does the University of Iowa, which created an Iowa Psychopathic Hospital in 1919.
Faculty members here have made major contributions to the field, beginning with the first department head, Samuel Orton, who was an important figure in the study of dyslexia. Some of the earliest studies of the electroencephalogram in animals and in humans took place in our department, and in the 1940s Paul Huston and others were among the first to show the effectiveness of electroconvulsive therapy in treating severe depression. George Winokur, a former department head, conducted one of the first modern studies to document the course of major mental disorders, called the Iowa 500, and made Iowa a leading center for psychiatric genetics.
Our research continues to be on the cutting edge. The department includes some of the world's most distinguished and award-winning investigators, and their presence contributes to a spirit of inquiry. William Coryell, MD, conducts high-impact research on the course of mood disorders. Robert Robinson, MD, has done important work on the treatment of post-stroke depression. Nancy Andreasen, MD, PhD, former Editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, has made key contributions to our understanding of clinical features and brain structure changes in schizophrenia, and has authored several widely read books, including Brave New Brain. Jane Paulsen, PhD, leads a Huntington's Disease Center of Excellence, which has made major advances in the understanding of the course and treatment of this neuropsychiatric illness. John Wemmie, MD, PhD, has done groundbreaking work on a protein in brain cells, an acid-sensing ion channel, and how it potentially contributes to memory, anxiety, and depression. Jess Fiedorowicz, MD, PhD, recently won the prestigious Gerald R. Klerman Prize for excellence in research from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation for his studies on the primary causes of excess mortality in bipolar disorder; how risk develops in bipolar disorder; and suicide and vascular disease. Last year, Chadi Calarge, MD, received the award for his research on the effects of psychiatric medications used to treat children and adolescents.
Our department is a highly productive place, with over 70 clinicians and researchers, who publish more than 150 scientific papers annually, and who bring in more than 75 grants a year. The department continues to be among the leaders in the study of the biological basis of psychiatric disorders. Our brain imaging program is robust and highly regarded, supporting work in schizophrenia, mood disorders, and many other brain diseases, while the department continues to make important advances in the area of psychiatric genetics.
The department is also committed to excellence in teaching in a high quality environment at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, one of America's largest teaching hospitals. UI Hospitals and Clinics is a leader in exceptional patient care, and attracts patients from across the Midwest and beyond. Recently, the US News and World Report ranked the department #20 nationally for excellence in patient care. Our patient care is enhanced by the outstanding research that occurs in the department, which helps provide residents with the latest evidence on the causes and treatments of many major mental disorders. Residents have an opportunity to learn and ask questions of leaders in the fields of schizophrenia, mood and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and geriatric disorders—including geriatric psychiatrist Susan Schultz who is Deputy Editor and podcast voice of the American Journal of Psychiatry. Faculty members receive high marks for their teaching and for providing high quality patient care. The department has eleven clinical programs including specialty inpatient units (geriatric, mood, neuropsychiatric, eating disorder), an assertive community treatment program, a multi-track partial hospital program, and thriving outpatient clinics. There is a specialty service in women's wellness, and new initiatives that are being developed in emergency psychiatry. Fourteen members of our faculty were recently named "Best Doctors in America."
The department is strong, and I am delighted that we have new opportunities to make it even stronger as we move forward. We work hard to make a difference, and aim each day to live up to the high standards set by those who preceded us. But we also enormously enjoy what we do: seeing patients get better and making new discoveries that may ultimately improve patient care. Like Iowa City itself, the department is a place where people are helpful, friendly and caring. Come see for yourself!
James B. Potash, MD, MPH
Paul W. Penningroth Chair
Professor and Head of Psychiatry