In the News 2014

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The genome of earliest animal with “elementary brain”
University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) researchers, University of Florida (UF) researchers, and their collaborators sequenced the genome of, probably, the earliest animal with a complex nervous system.  Read the story.
A new program and partnership has started between the Hector Reyes House and Quinsigamond Community College.  Recently the Hector Reyes House purchased a property through various grants which will provide catering services to Worcester, but most importantly, will provide job training skills to men suffering from addiction.  They will have an opportunity to continue working at the café or to get another job with a local restaurant once they complete the program.  Read the story in WorcesterMag.
Kristina M. Deligiannidis, MD has received a 2014 ACNP Travel Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP). After reviewing the nearly 300 submissions, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Education & Training Committee has selected Dr. Kristina M. Deligiannidis as a Travel Awardee for the 2014 ACNP Annual Meeting being held in Phoenix, Arizona from December 7-11, 2014. The ACNP annually selects distinguished young scientists in the field of neuropsychopharmacology to be a part of their Travel Award program. These awards offer an opportunity to attend an outstanding scientific program in clinical and basic research on brain-behavior-drug interactions; become aware of the most recent, and often unpublished, advances in psychopharmacology; and meet and interact with internationally distinguished researchers and scientists. Each Travel Awardee receives roundtrip coach air fare to attend the ACNP Annual Meeting; up to 5 nights lodging in the meeting hotel; paid Annual Meeting registration fee for recipient and his/her spouse; the opportunity to present a poster at the meeting; an allowance for other expenses; and an invitation to attend and present posters at the next four Annual Meetings.
Amy Harrington, MD has received the 2014-2016 Kraft Practitioner Program Award given by the Kraft Center for Community Health.  The Kraft Practitioner Program was developed in response to the need for establishing a stable, sustainable workforce of excellent clinicians at community health centers.  As part of this program, Dr. Harrington will attend monthly learning days with practitioners from other parts of the state.  She will also work towards establishing an early psychosis clinic at Community Healthlink using skills she learns through this program.
Kelly Hurley, Autism Resource Specialist in the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (CANDO) in Child Psychiatry, was recognized by the Autism Insurance Resource Center for her exemplary commitment in assisting families to acquire supplemental insurance which allows children with autism to secure additional supports and services.

Usefulness of HAMD-BPRS as Clinical Tool for Assessing Severity of Psychotic Depression
Østergaard SD, Meyers BS, Flint AJ, Mulsant BH, Whyte EM, Ulbricht CM, Bech P, Rothschild AJ, on behalf of the STOP-PD Study Group. Measuring psychotic depression. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2014; 129: 211-220
There is a lack of consensus on how to measure the severity of psychotic depression (PD) and the majority of treatment studies only considers improvement in depression and do not take change in psychotic symptoms into account in their definitions of remission or response.

The results of the present analysis of the STOP-PD data, indicate that the HAMD-BPRS rating scale consisting of items covering both the depressive and the psychotic dimension of PD may possess higher psychometric validity compared with the most commonly used depression scale, namely the HAM-D.

The authors found that a composite rating scale consisting of the 6-item Hamilton melancholia subscale (HAM-D6) plus five items from the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), named the HAMD-BPRS, displayed both clinical and psychometric validity in the measurement of the severity and treatment response of PD. This study brings an additional and important contribution to the evaluation process of quantify psychotic and depressive symptoms, suggesting the usefulness of the HAMD-BPRS as a clinical tool for assessing the severity of psychotic depression.

SPARC new name for mental health services research unit - 'evolutionary changes in the field of mental health'
The UMass Medical School Department of Psychiatry has announced that Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center, or SPARC, is the new name for what was previously called the Center for Mental Health Services Research. Read the story in the June 16 UMassMedNow.
Richard M. Berlin, MD, Senior Affiliate in Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has had his second collection of poems, Secret Wounds, which won the 2010 John Ciardi Poetry Prize, is published by BkMk Press. - See more at: Psychiatric Times.
Panel discusses bias in STEM fields
Breaking down the barriers that women face in science, technology, engineering and math fields "has to be a movement," said Jean King, professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, as part of a panel on women in STEM fields Tuesday evening. Read the story in the Brown Daily Herald here.
Barry Feldman explains teen suicide risk factors
Suicide prevention expert Barry Feldman, PhD, says no one risk factor will cause a teenager to commit suicide and provides a list of warning signs for families to act on, according to a story in the March 10 Boston Globe. Read the story here
UMass Medical School ‘lights it up blue’ for autism awareness
Parents, children, friends, community members, and professionals gathered to celebrate autism awareness and acceptance at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care’s Light it Up Blue observation of International Autism Awareness Day on April 2.  Read more...
Congratulations to Dr. Daniel Rowe & PGY-II Dr. Brian Skehan who were presented with the Medical Student Psychiatry Teaching Award by Drs. Deborah Field and Yael Dvir and the 3rd year Medical Student Clerkship. Student comments for Dr. Rowe: "Takes time at the end of day to review a topic. Provides feedback on my written notes and interviews each time I do one. He was always generous with his time. It was a pleasure to learn from him and to see how thorough and thoughtful his style of medical practice is." Student comments for Dr. Skehan: "Compassionate and genuine delivery of care. Goes above and beyond to teach. Skilled interviewer. Provides insightful feedback. Good work life/balance. Excellent role model and outlook on Psychiatry. A wonderful teacher. He would challenge us by asking pertinent questions related to our patients. Always willing to answer questions and to talk about complicated topics we were struggling with."
Just a smile might save a life 
Dr. Stephanie Rodrigues, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the UMass Medical School who researches the stigma around mental-health issues, spoke at the March 27 Mental Health Awareness Conference at the Colonial Hotel in Gardner, MA. Kevin Hines, keynote speaker, said people can save others from suicide just by smiling at them. Read the article in theSentinel & Enterprise News.
Adolescent psychiatrist prescribes conservative measures before antidepressants
The college years can be stressful: More than half of college students have experienced “overwhelming anxiety” and about one-third reported they felt “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some point during the year, according to a 2013 survey by the American College Health Association. Daniel Kirsch, MD, discusses "College kids distressed or depressed? Consider all treatment options" in this UMassMedNow article...
Stanley Medical Research Institute Grant Awarded
Dr. Xiaoduo Fan
, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Psychotic Disorders Program was recently awarded a grant for $800,000 for 3 years for his study titled “Exenatide weekly injection as an adjunctive treatment in patients with schizophrenia” by the prestigious Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI). This is a 24-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of exenatide weekly injection as an adjunctive therapy in 70 early phase schizophrenia subjects to examine exenatide’s effects on negative symptoms and cognition. The Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI) is a nonprofit organization supporting research on the causes of, and treatments for, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is the largest nongovernmental source of funds for research on these diseases in the United States.
Isheeta Zalpuri, MD, was selected as one of 5 awardees to receive the American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Programs (AADPRT)/International Medical Graduate Fellowship for 2014. The AADPRT International Medical Graduate Program was designed to promote the professional growth of exceptional IMG residents and fellows and facilitate their successful development as leaders.
JAMA: Smoking rates in mentally ill still high despite big declines overall
Ziedonis says focus on smoking cessation rising in mental health treatment
Adults with mental illness are quitting smoking at a far slower pace than the general population according to a new study published in the Jan. 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Unfortunately, despite the progress in the general population of reducing smoking by about 50 percent, we have not seen that in the mentally ill population,” said UMass Medical School psychiatrist and tobacco addiction expert Douglas Ziedonis, MD. Read the article...
A Child Who Kills Is Still A Child
An article about trying juveniles who commit first-degree murder as adults and their ability to comprehend their crimes cites research by Thomas Grisso, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Law-Psychiatry Program at UMass Medical School. Read the article...
Is Quitting Smoking Your New Year’s Resolution?
Ever put quit smoking on your list of New Year's resolutions? Last year, this was the seventh most popular goal. Greg Seward, director of the Tobacco-Free Initiative and Tobacco Consultation Service, was interviewed by NECN/Worcester News Tonight as part of a story about broken New Year’s Resolutions. Greg discusses several ways that smokers can stick with their plans to kick the habit. Watch segment (10:30 minutes into the newscast).