• Welcome from the Chair and Department Executive Officer


    Welcome to the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa! As the Department Chair, I am excited about both our strong traditions established from as far back as our founding in 1919, and the innovative transitions we have been pursuing since my arrival here in 2011. We have brought 31 new faculty members into the department in that time, including clinicians, scientists, and people who both see patients and engage in the work of discovery. In the process we have established a new Division of Molecular Psychiatry, introduced a more comprehensive approach to patient care, improved our psychotherapy training, and worked with our colleagues in Neurology and Neurosurgery to plan a new Neuroscience Institute.

    Faculty members here have made major contributions to the field, beginning with the first Department Chair, Samuel Orton, who was an important figure in the study of dyslexia. Some of the earliest studies of the electroencephalogram 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. Former Chair George Winokur 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. And Former Chair Robert Robinson made important discoveries about how particular areas of the brain play a role in depression.

    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 conducts high-impact research on the course of mood disorders. Nancy Andreasen 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. John Wemmie has done groundbreaking work on a protein in brain cells, an acid-sensing ion channel, and how it contributes to anxiety and panic. Andrew Pieper has developed a new group of compounds that are neuroprotective in animal models of several neurologic and psychiatric illnesses. Jess Fiedorowicz won the Gerald Klerman Award in 2012 for excellence in research from the Brain and Behavior Research foundation for work examining the mechanisms of vascular disease in mood disorder patients.

    Our department is a highly productive place, with 85 clinicians and researchers, who publish more than 150 scientific papers annually, and who bring in 140 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 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. University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is a leader in exceptional patient care, and attracts patients from across the Midwest and beyond. We are #20 in the nation in the US News and World Report survey of clinical excellence in psychiatry. 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. Such leaders include Susan Schultz, text editor of the DSM-5, and Donald Black, President of the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists and author of the DSM-5 Guidebook. 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 (e.g., geriatrics and eating disorders), 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 neuropsychiatry. Sixteen members of our faculty have been named “Best Doctors in America.”

    The department is strong, and I am delighted that we have 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 Professor
    Chair and Department Executive Officer of Psychiatry