View this email in your browser
December 2021

Message from the Chair

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As this year comes to a close, I am reflecting on another year of living with the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many of you, I am mostly glad to say good-bye to 2021, but I don’t want to forget all the good work that we have done together. The last two years have shown us that individuals can make a real difference and I thank you all for the positive impact you have made, both large and small, for your colleagues, for your families, and for our community. Just one year ago, we were among the first to get our mRNA vaccines, and despite many hurdles along the way, we found ways to continue our work together, and even to grow as a department. We welcomed new colleagues and programs who joined us in 2021 and we are welcoming another group of talented new faculty and staff this month. We also began construction on our new $234 million Behavioral Health Teaching Facility on the UWMC Northwest Campus. If you have been to the Northwest campus in recent weeks, you could see the project coming to life and if you’d like to watch the construction remotely, you can do so on a live feed

In this month’s newsletter, you will learn about a new psychiatry residency program for Nurse Practitioners that we are building in partnership with our School of Nursing and our hospitals, about a new ECHO program to help people suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI), and about the expansion of our Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis (STEP) program which has received state funding to become a New Journey’s program. We are also announcing a new opportunity to support projects focused on suicide prevention and recovery that is supported by a wonderful gift to the department. We are preparing for our 2022 Department Research Retreat and for the first Annual Meeting of the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions in January of 2022. We continue our work to be an inclusive environment and I encourage you to become involved in one or more of our department’s efforts focused on equity, diversity and inclusion such as the group organized by our colleagues who work in the area of substance use and addiction.

I know that our reserves are stretched thin and that the concerns about yet another wave of infection weigh on all of us during this Holiday season, but I am reassured by the way our community has come together and supported each other and I appreciate that we have been able to make a difference for our community during this challenging time. I wish you and your families all the best for a safe and restorative Holiday season and I look forward to continuing our work together in the New Year!


In Memory: Elpidio "Junior" Mariano
We are very sad to announce the death of one of our former residents, Elpidio "Junior" Mariano. Junior completed his psychiatry residency at the UW between 2002-2006 and served as chief resident at Harborview Medical Center. Everyone who knew him would describe him as a caring, and humble person with a great sense of humor and easy manner. He excelled at bringing people together, finding common goals, and resolving conflict.

Upon completion of residency, he returned home to Wisconsin where he later completed an Addiction Psychiatry fellowship at the University of Wisconsin. True to form, Junior was a founding member of Leaders who Care, a philanthropic committee at Children’s Wisconsin. He worked tirelessly to improve the mental health of children. Junior is survived by his wife Kristin and sons Ashur and Anders. Memorials may be made in Junior’s name to the United Leukodystrophy Foundation, Children’s Wisconsin, or a fund set up for his sons’ future education. Read more.
Please help us welcome our new faculty and staff!
Austin Campbell joined the department in December 2021 as a Grants and Contracts Manager supporting the Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute (ADAI). She is currently working remotely however will be in the BB tower on campus. Austin’s education background is in business and she spent the last several years working at the UW in different departments – most recently as a Grant Analyst in Grant and Contract Accounting. Outside of work, Austin enjoys hiking, skiing, traveling and spending time with friends/family and her puppy. If you would like to reach out to Austin and say hello, her email is

Staci Guerrero, MBA, joined the department in December 2021 as the Associate Director of Human Resources. Staci has been at the UW since 2012 and has worked in the Department of Urology, the College of the Environment and most recently at the Foster School of Business. She is also a UW alum, earning both her BA and MBA from the Foster School. In her free time, Staci enjoys being near, on or in the water, visiting the mountains, buying books, and spending time with her kids, her dog Osa and cat Raspberry. If you would like to reach out to Staci and say hello, her email is and her office is on the 16th floor of the Health Sciences Building in the Chair’s suite.

Mary Pyper re-joined the department in November 2021 as an Executive Specialist assisting Chair Jürgen Unützer with responsibilities as Department Chair and Director of the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions. After two and a half years at South Seattle College assisting the VP of Student Services, Mary returns to UW with five+ years of prior experience in the Department and the AIMS Center. Her favorite things outside of work are outdoor adventures, preferably in gardens, open landscapes, or sites of historical and archeological significance. She loves growing vegetables, canning treats to share and listening to all types of music. If you would like to reach out to Mary and say hello, her email is She will be in her BB1646 office on Mondays and Wednesdays and working remotely the rest of the week.

Andre Stickney joined the department in November 2021 as a Continuing Education Specialist working remotely for the Supporting Psychosis Innovation through Research, Implementation & Training (SPIRIT) Lab. Andre is a master’s level trained mental health therapist residing in Portland, OR. He has spent the last eight years working as a Mental Health Therapist and Clinical Supervisor for an ACT team and a first episode psychosis team in Vancouver, WA. He also has experience as a crisis outreach worker and co-responder crisis worker with the Vancouver Police Department. Outside of work, Andre spends time with his family, raising three children, golfing and supporting his local church as a marriage mentor. If you would like to reach out to Andre and say hello, his email is

Amy Stromme joined the department in December 2021 as a Human Resources Coordinator. Amy is relatively new to HR and transitioned her career during the global pandemic. This past year, she completed her HR Essentials certificate with the University of Washington, completed an HR internship at the Borgen Project, and most recently was working as a Recruiting Coordinator for Peace Health, a Catholic Nonprofit that manages hospitals, clinics and labs across Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Before her transition to Human Resources, Amy worked primarily in roles that promoted housing justice and food equity across King County. She hopes to continue to bring that focus on equity to this new role. Outside of work, Amy likes to read, play board games and follow Netflix dramas with her husband. If you would like to reach out to Amy and say hello, her email is

Nicole Morrison Winters joined the department in November 2021 as an Implementation Program Assistant for the AIMS Center. Nicole has a degree in Communications and Media. Prior to joining the AIMS Center, she worked in early learning at South Shore – a Seattle Public School located in Rainier Beach, and for several years was the Program Coordinator for Seattle Mennonite Voluntary Service. Outside of work, Nicole enjoys hiking, gardening, culinary arts, playing board games with her family and building community. If you would like to reach out to Nicole and say hello, her email is

Suicide Prevention and Recovery Small Grants Program
We are excited to announce the launch of a new Suicide Prevention and Recovery Small Grants Program that will fund up to ten research grants to support projects related to preventing suicide, promoting the recovery of suicide survivors and supporting the families and caregivers impacted by suicide. We welcome new, innovative ideas that demonstrate a high potential for impact and continued funding beyond the initial investment. Award amounts will be up to $25,000.

The program is funded by a wonderful gift from the Mary. E Nelson Charitable Remainder Trust, Heidi Combs Trustee. Deadline for applications is February 28, 2022. Please reach out to Andie Uomoto ( if you have any questions.

Robert M. Sinskey Foundation supports CSPAR
The Center for Suicide Prevention and Recovery (CSPAR) led by Kate Comtois, PhD, MPH, has received a generous gift from the Robert M. Sinskey Foundation to support its work. The Center, launched in 2020, will hire an administrative assistant, redesign its website, build an online library of trainings and plan additional trainings with the funding. The family foundation heard about CSPAR’s work through a Grand Rounds presentation given by Dr. Comtois about the Center earlier this year.

“Having someone dedicated to CSPAR as an entity will be a game changer for the Center,” said Dr. Comtois. “The seed money will help us create a strong administrative structure to support and expand our collaborative efforts and get important research off the ground.”

The mission of the Robert M. Sinskey Foundation is to advance medical science and improve the quality of medical care throughout the world by supporting education, scholarship, medical and scientific research and clinical activities. We appreciate their support!

Substance use, addiction research programs coordinate DEI efforts
In the summer of 2020, a group of researchers and staff across multiple UW research centers began meeting to coordinate diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. These meetings include regular representatives from the Addictions, Drug and Alcohol Institute (ADAI); Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors (CSHRB); Center of Excellence in Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain, and Emotion (NAPE); the Social Development Research Group (SDRG); the Harm Reduction Research and Treatment (HaRRT) Center; and the addiction psychiatry fellowship. Given the multidisciplinary group and wide breadth of work, discussions have included distributing and coordinating DEI training efforts, problem solving shared challenges (e.g., costs to translate research materials into multiple languages), pursuing potential grant opportunities (e.g., NIH R25 Research Education Program grant), and organizing a research open house in November 2021 to recruit undergraduate-level research assistants from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.

If you are interested in joining the quarterly meeting to represent your center or group doing substance use and/or addiction research, please contact Mandy Owens, PhD, at

Final report: Stay Connected
Through our Small Grants Program launched in 2020, we were able to allocate nearly $100,000 to a terrific set of diverse, one-year proposals from faculty, staff and trainees on a wide range of topics. Patrick Raue, PhD, Patricia Areán, PhD, and Brenna Renn, PhD, completed their “Stay Connected: developing an intervention to promote mental health among isolated senior housing residents” project this month.

The team partnered with several Seattle‐area senior housing facilities using the ALACRITY Center’s Develop, Design, Build, and Test methodology. Surveys indicated as many as 50% of older public housing residents have been experiencing distress since COVID, which can take the form of depressive symptoms, anxiety, or loneliness. In addition, most people who responded reported significant difficulty getting basic needs met and medical care due to COVID.

The team co-developed a telemedicine-supported intervention with housing staff and residents experiencing distress called Stay Connected. Stay Connected strategies focused on meeting social service needs, enhancing social connections and teaching self-management strategies for depression and anxiety. Residents found the intervention to be acceptable and helpful.

The City of Seattle and Aging and Disability Services funded an implementation of Stay Connected, and the team is currently conducting an ongoing pilot randomized controlled trial comparing Stay Connected to Usual Care plus Resource Guide among older adults experiencing emotional distress to date. Read more.

Department Research Retreat is January 12, 2022
Our 2022 UW Psychiatry Research Retreat will be held via Zoom on January 12, 2022 from 9 AM - 12:20 PM. Faculty researchers, research-focused staff and post-doctoral fellows in our department are invited to attend. After a welcome and overview of our department’s research activities by Chair Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, MA, the Information Technology Services team at UW Medicine will give an overview of how new Electronic Health Record (EHR) tools such as the new SlicerDicer tool in EPIC can be used for research. We will also have several breakout sessions led by department faculty:
  • Medication development for substance use disorders
    Marco Pravetoni, PhD, will talk about his plans to build a new research program to develop innovative strategies such as vaccines, antibody-based strategies and small molecules for the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorders. Dr. Pravetoni will join our department from the University of Minnesota on January 1, 2022.
  • Opportunities in global mental health in an era of change
    Pamela Y. Collins, MD, MPH, will review research and advocacy activities and opportunities at the UW Global Mental Health Program and around the globe.
  • Psychedelics for addiction: opportunities and challenges
    Nathan Sackett, MD, will review some of the emerging literature on the use of psychedelics for treating substance use disorders. He will review some of the history, current studies and challenges associated with this research. This will be followed by a conversation about how to approach such research questions at the UW.
  • Getting out of our ivory towers: fostering community engagement in research
    The success and impact of our research depends on our ability to connect successfully with stakeholders outside of the academy, including people who are personally affected by the issue and community-based organizations. In this session, attendees will learn more about the mindset needed to do effective community-engaged work, get ideas to take the next (or first) step in developing or maintaining community partnerships, and share challenges, successes, and lessons learned with each other. Facilitated by Emily Dworkin, PhD.
  • Strengthening the research pipeline
    We are all committed to helping our trainees develop a research career but many barriers stand in the way. This session will provide an opportunity to examine how our department supports the development of the next generation of psychiatrist and psychologist researchers, and how we can enhance our support for them in making a successful transition to research independence. Facilitated by John Neumaier, MD, PhD, and Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD.
Please review the agenda and save the date on your calendar. Questions? Please contact Alison Laing (

STEP becomes New Journeys site
The Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis (STEP) Program based at the Harborview Behavioral Health Institute (BHI) has officially joined the New Journeys Network in Washington state. New Journeys is an early intervention program for First Episode Psychosis that provides a coordinated specialty care approach to wrap around an individual who is experiencing FEP to assist them in moving towards recovery. Research indicates that early intervention, seen in a model such as New Journeys, positively alters the long-term trajectory of illnesses such as Schizophrenia. The team originally launched in 2018 and began delivering team-based treatment to individuals and families experiencing first episode psychosis with all components of this coordinated specialty care model, but with less dedicated time for many of the clinicians. It is the first program of BHI’s Clinical Services Pillar led by Allie Franklin, LICSW, and Medical Director Carolyn Brenner, MD.

Now that STEP is one of the fully-funded New Journeys programs in Washington, it will be able to support the full multidisciplinary team, including: 1) Nami Bhatt, LMHC, Program Director, who also serves as a the Family Education Specialist; 2) Ryan Juhre, MSW, Individual Resiliency Training (IRT) Specialist, who provides a CBT-informed care; 3) Kristi Dore, MHP, a Supported Employment and Education Specialist who provides coaching and support in schools and employment settings, as well as benefits counseling; 4) Christine Curry, MD, a Psychiatrist, who provides psychopharmacological treatment and education to the client and their family; and 5) Keith Johnson, a Peer Specialist with lived experience which helps go guide wellness and recovery-oriented strategies to support care. STEP is also unique in that they also have a part-time Psychologist (Jessica Maura, PhD) on their team who provides CBT for psychosis and other CBT-informed therapies, and a part-time Nurse to address cardiovascular risk and other healthcare concerns.

Since its inception, STEP has worked closely with Department faculty, including those within the Supporting Psychosis Innovation through Research, Implementation, & Training (SPIRIT) Lab and the Washington State Center of Excellence in Early Psychosis to pilot and evaluate innovations not yet implemented across the New Journeys Network. For example, Lydia Chwastiak, MD, has worked with STEP to develop and pilot a nurse manual focused on addressing cardiovascular risk and a health coach role. Maria Monroe-DeVita, PhD (along with colleagues in the UW School of Social Work, Denise Walker, PhD and Ryan Petros, PhD) has been working with the STEP team to adapt a motivational enhancement therapy (MET) intervention to address cannabis use with this population. Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD, from the BRiTE Center is also evaluating a texting intervention within the team. These interventions will then be in consideration for future implementation across the New Journeys Network, thanks to STEP’s unique role and position within the UW community.

New ECHO program will support care of people with TBI
The ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) model uses a virtual educational lecture series and patient case discussion to improve provider preparedness to treat patients and improve patient outcomes. Our department has successfully used the model to expand the mental health and addictions care in our state and currently has ECHO programs in perinatal psychiatry, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), autism, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, first episode psychosis, trauma recovery and addictions. Our latest ECHO launch will test whether the model can enhance the care of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Successful TBI recovery can depend in large part on access to and engagement in behavioral health treatment, but TBI-focused community resources are scarce and fragmented. Treatment of post-TBI symptoms often falls to community providers who have little support and are under-prepared to manage these complexities. This burden disproportionally affects rural providers who have little access to specialist care at academic centers. Under the leadership of Jennifer Erickson, DO, and with support from Cara Towle, RN MSN MA, a new TBI ECHO will train community providers from a variety of disciplines and settings who treat persons with TBI. The project is being initially funded by the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions with an additional two years of funding from the Washington State TBI Advisory Council.

TBI ECHO will cover the identification of TBI and evidence-based behavioral health treatments and will provide detailed case consultation. The team will assess the success, reach and impact of the TBI ECHO by collecting and comparing attendee experiences, clinical information and patient outcomes. The program will launch in January 2022.

Taskforce to conduct landscape analysis of addiction activities
Our department has a wealth of expertise related to substance use and addiction across the age spectrum, ranging from basic neuroscience research to translational and community-focused research and intervention programs. With the recent addition of the Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute (ADAI), we have substantially increased our department’s portfolio in the area of substance use and addiction. A new taskforce led by Rick Ries, MD, will assess and describe the various research, clinical, training and policy efforts that exist within the department related to addictions, including an assessment of what populations are currently underserved. The taskforce will identify gaps and assess the strengths and weaknesses of addiction-related activities and develop a strategy to help us recruit a topnotch candidate for the new Nicole K. Engle Endowed Professorship for Addiction Medicine funded by the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions. The effort will also help us explore options for additional clinical trial capacity to test new treatment strategies such as combinations of medications and psychotherapies.

Works begins on new psychiatry residency program for nurses 
With generous philanthropic support, we have begun working with the School of Nursing and UW Medical Center to create an exciting, one-year psychiatry residency program for Nurse Practitioners. The goal of the new residency program is to improve the reach of psychiatric services, to deliver much needed mental health access to underserved populations and to retain this workforce in Washington state, especially for patients with complex psychiatric care needs.

Trainees will work in inpatient and outpatient behavioral health care settings to gain crucial experience in assessment, clinical management and team leadership alongside psychiatry residents, and with supervision and mentorship from experienced nurse practitioners, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. The program will provide standardization and recognition of the training and skills needed for advanced practice providers to take important clinical leadership and supervisory roles in behavioral health. The Behavioral Health Workforce Expansion and Lifelong Learning (BWELL) program directed by Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD, will represent our department in this exciting new educational partnership.

Residency didactics offer in-person option
In an effort to bring back our resident community and to gradually ease back into in-person didactics, the residency program hopes to move to a hybrid learning model (HLM) starting this spring. In consideration of each individual’s comfort level and personal situations, trainees and presenters may elect to either come to the UWMC-Montlake for in-person learning/teaching or continue to participate on Zoom. The program will regularly assess feasibility of this new learning model amid the changing requirements related to the pandemic. 

Appreciation Corner: Program Directors
We periodically share our appreciation for the faculty and staff who contribute to our teaching efforts and to the education of our trainees. This month, we would like to give a heartfelt appreciation to the Program Directors of our Psychiatry Residency Training Program: Paul Borghesani, MD, PhD (Medical Student Clerkship); Jonathan Buchholz, MD (Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship); Ray Hsiao, MD (Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship); Ty Lostutter, PhD (Psychology Internship); Marcella Pascualy, MD (Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry Fellowship); Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD (Psychiatry Residency); and Lucy Wang, MD (Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship).

The Program Directors work countless hours to ensure our trainees have the best education in the most optimum learning environment. The pandemic has made this work a lot more challenging, but they strive to make sure our trainees are well taken care off. They put their heart and soul into training our next generation of psychiatrists and deserve a big applause for being champions for education and increased access to behavioral health.

Mary Larimer receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Congratulations to Mary Larimer, PhD, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Addictive Behaviors Special Interest Group (SIG) from the Association of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies (ACBT) earlier this month. ABCT is committed to the enhancement of health and well-being by advancing the scientific understanding, assessment, prevention and treatment of human problems through the global application of behavioral, cognitive and biological evidence-based principles. The Addictive Behaviors SIG provides a platform within ABCT for members to communicate and collaborate regarding substance use topics.

Congratulations Dr. Larimer!
For upcoming events, please visit the UW Psychiatry calendar .
Copyright © 2021 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington. All rights reserved.
University of Washington
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 356560
Seattle, WA 98195

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 contact Becky Sladek at Unsubscribing below will remove you from ALL UW Psychiatry communications.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences