UW Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Newsletter, May 2016
View this email in your browser

Message from the Chair

Dear friends and colleagues,

About every 13 minutes, someone in the United States loses his or her life to suicide. Washington State’s suicide rate is higher than the national average, and the rates of suicide in other Pacific Northwest States are even higher. These suicides and a recent epidemic of lethal overdoses from prescription and nonprescription opioids are the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of the enormous burden of pain and disability caused by mental health and substance use disorders each year. This month, I want to call attention to some of our Department’s efforts in the area of suicide prevention.

Spurred on by the fact that clinicians are notoriously poor at predicting suicide risk, a team of researches including our own Mark Reger is studying how predictive modeling may help target risk stratified suicide prevention interventions for Veterans. On the civilian side, Kate Comtois is implementing and evaluating a novel clinical intervention for individuals with suicidal thoughts and behaviors called the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality, or CAMS. Both projects hope to systematically reduce suicidal ideation and behaviors. You can read more about each in the Research section of this newsletter.

In our clinical programs, Harborview, UWMC and the VA Puget Sound are reviewing and strengthening current documentation standards and clinical protocols in response to a Joint Commission alert calling for better assessment and management of suicidal ideation. On the Education side, we are working with colleagues at UW to develop training programs for practicing physicians and other health care professionals on assessing and managing suicide risk. I applaud our efforts in suicide prevention and am committed to working with all of you to help reverse the rising rate of suicide in Washington State and across the WWAMI region.

This month, I also want to call out and thank the members of our clinical faculty. We recently held our annual CME event for our clinical faculty, and it was wonderful for me to be able to thank this group of volunteer faculty, composed of almost 350 clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, for their dedication and support of our education, research and clinical programs throughout King County, Washington State, and the entire WWAMI region. Many of our clinical faculty members are alumni, and it is so wonderful to see our graduates give back to our programs and to continue the good work they first learned here at UW. You can learn more about our clinical faculty in this month’s feature article.


Clinical Faculty Members Strengthen Department

Our clinical faculty members – over 300 strong – are a tremendous asset to our department. These men and women volunteer many hours of their time to help us reach our teaching, clinical, and research goals. Whether it be teaching courses, providing clinical consultation, or advising and supervising medical students, psychology residents or psychiatry residents, our volunteer faculty members help us carry out our mission of improving the health of the public every day.

The benefits are bi-directional. Clinical faculty enjoy ongoing contact with trainees who challenge them to remember clinical fundamentals and to stay current with the research literature. Being connected with the UW also helps foster collaborations and partnerships, both for our clinical faculty and for our regular faculty. For John Wynn, Medical Director for PsychoOncology & Supportive Care Services at Swedish Cancer Institute, serving as clinical professor has afforded him the opportunity to “pay it forward.”

“From the first weeks of medical school through two residencies and my early faculty career, I benefited, over and over again, from the support, encouragement and commitment of volunteer faculty,” said Wynn. “My activities of the past 22 years as a clinical professor have offered me a crucial opportunity to pay it forward, an important token of my appreciation for their generosity and their wisdom.”

Seattle Neuropsychiatric Treatment Center (SeattleNTC) psychiatrists Ken Melman, Josh Bess, Suzanne Kerns and Tuesday Burns strongly value their affiliation with our Department. For them, teaching and supervising residents is a two-way street, allowing them to “give back” as well as receive the benefits of having rewarding and stimulating interactions with residents and the core UW teaching faculty. This year, SeattleNTC is offering a new elective in Brain Stimulation Psychiatry for PGY-4 Psychiatry Residents, and the SeattleNTC team is gratified to know they are sharing their clinical expertise with the next generation of psychiatrists.

We couldn’t do the work we do without the support, time, and commitment of our clinical faculty. Thank you for all that you do!

Attention Faculty Mentors!

If you are the department mentor or mentorship committee chair for one of our assistant professors in the research, faculty scientist, or clinician teacher pathway, please make sure you and your mentee know his/her mandatory promotion date. You can find out this information and when he/she should plan to start the promotion application process by contacting Jane Corkery-Hahn.

New Parking Garage Opens at VA Puget Sound Health Care Center

On April 1, the long awaited parking relief at VA Puget Sound finally came! The Seattle Division opened their beautiful, new parking garage to Veterans and visitors. The new construction, located near the Emergency Department at the VA, is available to accommodate department faculty and staff visiting the VA and should support improved convenience when collaborating with VA-based investigators and collaborators.

Kirsten Williams named Director of Idaho Track
Kirsten WilliamsCongratulations to Kirsten Williams on being newly appointed as the Director of our Psychiatry Residency Program's Idaho Track! Dr. Williams has been a resident, Chief Resident, faculty member, and Associate Director in the Idaho Track, and has served as Interim Director of the track since October 1, 2015. She has an in-depth knowledge of the program as well as outstanding administrative, teaching and clinical skills and is the ideal person to provide strong leadership for the Idaho track going forward. We are very fortunate to have Kirsten in this role!

New Rotations for Residents!
We've added two new community rotations for third and fourth year residents to gain experience and knowledge in neurostimulation and eating disorder treatment.

The Seattle Neuropsychiatric Treatment Center (SeattleNTC) has created a rotation for residents to gain competency in electroconvulsive therapy and in transcranial magnetic stimulation. Supervised by clinical faculty members Kenneth Melman, Suzanne Kerns and Joshua Bess, residents will not only get hands on experience with ECT and TMS but also experiences with diagnostic assessment of Deep Brain and Vagal Nerve Stimulation. This is an excellent opportunity for our residents to perform outpatient brain stimulation consultation and develop treatment options with excellent guidance from the Seattle NTC team.

Residents have also started rotating at the Eating Recovery Center in Bellevue. The center has an adult residential program and partial hospitalization program giving the residents an opportunity for intensive training in eating disorders. This rotation is being supervised by former graduates Neeru Bakshi and Brian Smart and is a terrific new addition to our repertoire of excellent community rotations.

Clark Lab Stands for Science

Jeremy Clark Stands for Science By invitation of the American Psychological Society (APA) and Stand for Science (part of the APA’s Science Directorate), Jeremy Clark and his postdoctoral fellow Abigail Schindler recently met with U.S. House of Representative Jim McDermott’s (WA-D) office. Drs. Clark and Schindler discussed the need to “Stand for Science” by actively advocating for policy decisions that advance and preserve the infrastructure of social, behavioral and psychological science including providing predictable and steady spending increases for scientific agencies, ending sequestration, and ensuring that the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act supports merit review and does not cut the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate.

Drs. Clark and Schindler also spoke about the mission of our department as well as the current and future work of the Clark Lab within the Neurosciences Division, including their recent work published in The Journal of Neuroscience. As described in the paper, the lab identified a selective disruption in dopamine network dynamics that may promote persistent and poor decision-making after chronic adolescent alcohol use, even after periods of prolonged abstinence. Perhaps most exciting, they also demonstrated a pharmacological reversal of the disruption in adulthood. Together, these results highlight a novel neural mechanism underlying heightened risk-taking behavior in alcohol-dependent individuals and provide a potential therapeutic target for further investigation.

New Study Evaluates Clinical Intervention for Suicidal Behavior

Individuals recently discharged from inpatient psychiatry are at a very high, short-term risk for suicide, with the risk of suicide up to 200 times higher for individuals recently discharged from hospitals versus the general population. The Aftercare Focus Study led by Kate Comtois is implementing and evaluating a novel clinical intervention for suicidal thoughts and behavior called the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality, or CAMS. Unlike DBT and CBT, CAMS neither requires lengthy training and supervision, nor a substantial change to the clinician’s existing treatment approach.

Pilot work by Comtois showed that CAMS was more effective than treatment as usual at reducing suicidal ideation and psychological distress as well as increasing hope and treatment satisfaction for patients discharged from inpatient psychiatry. The goal of the current study is to rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of CAMS for patients receiving treatment or evaluation in the emergency department or an inpatient unit as a direct result of a suicide attempt, or suicide attempt within the past month. The study is recruiting 200 adults from any of the four inpatient psychiatry units, two emergency departments, and two consultation-liaison psychiatry services at Harborview or UWMC. This easy-to-train, outpatient model of care has the promise to meaningfully engage suicidal patients, to systematically eliminate suicidal ideation and behaviors, and to reduce return to the ER and hospital units.

VA Study of Innovations in Suicide Prevention

Mark Reger is part of a team that received a grant from VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) to study how predictive modeling may help target risk stratified suicide prevention interventions for Veterans. Dr. Reger will be leading the implementation of one of the suicide prevention interventions ("Caring Letters") with a team from Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, VA Central Office, VA Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), and VISN 4.

BHIP Wins Award of Excellence
The UW Neighborhood Clinics (UWNC) recently received a Washington Award of Excellence in Healthcare Quality from Qualis Health for their Behavioral Health Integration Program, or BHIP. BHIP is a team-based, collaborative care approach designed to improve the outcomes of anxiety and depression management in primary care. UW Medicine psychiatrists work as clinic-based psychiatric consultants who are responsible for supporting mental health care provided by primary care providers and care managers as well as providing direct patient consultations. The result is coordinated, effective, and convenient mental health care available in more than 15 UW clinics throughout the Puget Sound region. The model has resulted in significant improvement in the number of patients achieving care plan goals related to their anxiety or depression. More than 70% of patients with depression and 65% of patients with anxiety enrolled in BHIP have shown a 50% or greater improvement in symptoms following a minimum of 10 weeks of treatment.

UWNC was one of five healthcare organizations across the state of Washington recognized for their achievements in improving healthcare quality and outcomes including better healthcare for individuals, better health for populations, and reduced costs through improvement. Qualis Health, based in Seattle, is one of the nation's leading population health management organizations. Peter McGough, UWNC Medical Director, and Jay Wellington, UWNC Manager of Social Work, accepted the award.

Suicidal Ideation Standards Under Review
In February, The Joint Commission (TJC) distributed an alert calling for better assessment of suicidal ideation. The alert specifically targets primary care, emergency departments, and behavioral health settings, and emphasizes the importance of routine screening for suicidal ideation, safe environments during monitoring, and appropriate assessment and treatment for all patients with acute suicidal ideation. The Joint Commission highlights the importance of involvement of collateral contacts as appropriate and ongoing assessment and monitoring of suicidal thoughts after the initial assessment.

As part of the ongoing QI activity at Harborview over the past two years, we have reviewed current documentation standards regarding suicidal ideation and have revised our outpatient documentation templates to improve assessment in this area. We have plans to move these revisions into the inpatient discharge, psychiatric emergency services, and inpatient consultation liaison services after reviewing feedback of the early adopter outpatient faculty. UWMC and the VA are also reviewing care practices in light of TJC alert.

Last Reminder -- Department Annual Meeting is June 13!

All paid faculty and staff -- including VA-based faculty who receive a paycheck from the VA -- are invited to our annual Department meeting on Monday, June 13 from 10-2 PM in Hogness Auditorium. Chair Jürgen Unützer will provide an overview of our Department including our mission, vision and goals for the coming year. Lunch is provided! Look in your inbox for a catalyst survey from Molly Jones that allows you to choose your lunch preference. We hope to see you there!

Meetings & Events

Child Psychiatry Grand Rounds: Looking Back into the Future of Child Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
6/3, 8 – 9:20 AM, SCH
Please join us for Bryan King's farewell presentation. A reception honoring his service will follow in the Anna Clise Board Room. Food and drink will be served.

6/4, 8 AM, Kirkland
Join the HMC/UW Medicine team and walk 2.5K or 5K to help raise money for this important organization! NAMI provides advocacy and support services for individuals and families living with mental illness including Saturday family group at HMC and yearly scholarships for Harborview Mental Health Services clients to attend the Behavioral Healthcare Conference. Sign up to donate or walk!

"Unmask the Stigma" Masquerade and Auction
6/4, 6-9 PM, Redhook Brewery
All proceeds directly benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in its mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. Purchase tickets.

The Heroin Epidemic: A Community Conversation
6/6, 7-8:30 PM, MOHAI
KCTS 9’s Enrique Cerna will moderate a community conversation examining the region’s growing heroin and prescription opiate epidemic. Panelists include King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, Penny Legate, founder of the Marah Project, Caleb-Banta Green of the UW’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, and Molly Carney, Executive Director of Evergreen Treatment Services. More information.

Psychiatry Grand Rounds: Tools for Culturally Competent Care
6/10, 12-1 PM, HMC
Francis G. Lu will review two clinical tools published in the DSM-5 that support culturally competent care.

Department Graduation Ceremony
6/18, 11-3 PM,
Center for Urban Horticulture.
Please come to honor the graduates of our many educational programs!

DBT Workshop, Seminar, and Clinical Training
Begins 7/10
Led by Kate Comtois, this DBT Training is open to UW Medicine and Seattle Children's R3 and R4 residents, psychology residents, faculty, fellows, and clinical staff.

Department Annual Picnic
9/11, 2:00-6:00 PM,
Camp Long, West Seattle.
Faculty, staff and their families are invited to this informal and fun event. More information to follow.

Honors & Awards

New Faculty Senators
Congratulations to Ray Hsiao, Eric Strachan, and Doug Zatzick for being elected to the SOM faculty senate for a two-year term effective September 16, 2016.

In the News

SCCA employs UW model to tend to cancer patients’ emotions
'Treating your soul' is the aim of the Integrated Psychosocial Oncology Program at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance led by UW Medicine psychiatrist Jesse Fann. The SCCA is the first to implement the Collaborative Care model in a cancer-treatment setting. HS Newsbeat.

Can software detect empathy?
David Atkins talks about new feedback software that measures how empathetic a therapist is, which in turn helps rate the quality of care therapists deliver to their clients. KCTS 9.

Scientists test ancient body-warming method as depression treatment
A new study finds that “hyperthermia” could be helpful in treating depression. David Avery, professor emeritus, comments. BuzzFeed.

Getting adequate sleep in college
Jason Kilmer weighs in on the dangers of taking medications, alcohol, or marijuana to speed up the onset of sleep. The Daily.

Good to Know

Feedback wanted on Online Tools!
We would like feedback on three online tools (Faculty Annual Review, Academic Promotions Process, and Faculty Profiles) to make them as useful and seamless as possible. Please partner with us to make these tools even more supportive of the work you do. Send your suggestions and ideas of how they can be improved to Rosemary Whitright, IT Manager, and to Rachel Reichert, Academic and Staff HR Manager. Thank you!

Trouble Receiving Email?
If people are sending you email that you aren’t receiving, it may be due to a new default setting within Outlook called “Clutter.” Clutter attempts to divert emails it considers “clutter” to the Clutter folder, similar to a Junk Mail folder. Learn how to turn this feature off! Note: relevant to Exchange users only.

Joint Faculty Member Recruitment
The Departments of Global Health and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences seek candidates for a joint faculty position at the rank of Associate Professor or Professor to lead the UW Program in Global Mental Health. More information.


New on the Website: Research Training
The new UW Psychiatry Research Training page in the Research section of our website is a centralized place to showcase the variety of research opportunities available to students, residents and fellows. We've also developed Creating Solutions: Research Training Opportunities, a brochure geared toward prospective trainees. If you would like to add anything to the Research Training page or want copies of the brochure, please contact Communications Manager Rebecca Sladek.

Pitching Research
Interested in getting the results of a research paper out to the widest audience possible? HSNewsbeat runs stories on breaking research of interest to the general public. It's best to inform the editors of an upcoming publication as early as possible, ideally at the time of acceptance (they keep the information confidential). If you have an upcoming publication, please let Communications Manager Rebecca Sladek know and she can help with the pitch, or you can contact the editorial staff and media relations representatives directly at 206.543.3620.

Please note: We took a break from listing recently published papers this month. Please let us know when your papers are published by sending an email to
Copyright © 2016 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington. All rights reserved.

You are receiving this newsletter because you are affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter, please unsubscribe below.

University of Washington
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 356560
Seattle, WA 98195

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

This email was sent to
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
University of Washington, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences · 1959 NE Pacific Street · Box 356560 · Seattle, WA 98195 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp