National expert named chair of UT psychiatry department
HOUSTON - (July 6, 2009) - Jair Soares, M.D., a nationally known researcher in mood disorders and neuroscience imaging, is the new chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
Soares, who joined the university on June 1, is also executive director of the UT Harris County Psychiatric Center (UTHCPC) and chief of psychiatry at LBJ General Hospital and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, the primary teaching hospitals of the UT Medical School.
"Dr. Soares has great enthusiasm and drive to enrich our mental health services and expand the department's research program," said Giuseppe Colasurdo, M.D., dean of the UT Medical School at Houston. "This department has unlimited opportunity with new facilities being built on the South Campus and its collaboration with our clinical and basic science departments."
In his new position, Soares oversees the clinical, educational and research activities of 96 faculty, residents and fellows who see 3,984 research patients each year. He also supervises the clinical practice, which has 7,697 outpatient visits every year. The department includes two recognized research centers: the Center for Human Development Research and the Substance Abuse Research Center.
"My main priorities are expanding clinical services in collaboration with Memorial Hermann and other partners and developing more clinical research at UTHCPC," Soares said. "Good work is being done at UTHCPC but teaching and opportunities for research could be expanded. UTHCPC could become a Center of Excellence focusing on bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses."
Lois J. Moore, M.Ed., chief administrator at UTHCPC, said the center is looking forward to working with Soares as it moves forward with plans to reach out farther into the community and deliver quality mental health care.
"We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Soares to the university and the UT Harris County Psychiatric Center," Moore said. "He brings a wealth of clinical and research experience and knowledge to the hospital and to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences."
Soares' goals include recruiting new faculty such as a psychiatric geneticist and a clinical researcher interested in depression and anxiety. He believes the department's late-February 2010 move into the new Neuroscience Building at the UT Research Park will be a "tremendous selling point." He also wants to build on an expected national growth in the field of geriatric psychiatry. Another area that he foresees as ripe for future growth is research on childhood and adolescence mental illness.
"We have a wonderful opportunity to expand the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences," Soares said. "We've been on a small size despite the wonderful work of the members of the faculty. We also want to reach out to other areas of the university, including neurobiology, radiology, pharmacology, geriatrics and pediatrics."
Soares came to the UT Medical School at Houston from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was the Yeargan Distinguished Professor of psychiatry and director of the Center of Excellence for Research and Treatment of Bipolar Disorders. He also held faculty appointments at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Pittsburgh.
He brings with him three research grants funded by the National Institutes of Health on neurobiological mechanisms in bipolar disorder; neuroimaging and clinical intervention in adolescents with bipolar disorder; and the possible existence of brain abnormalities in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder.
Soares received his medical degree from the University of Sao Paulo Medical School in Brazil. He completed his internship in internal medicine and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health System, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, and his post doctoral fellowship in neuroimaging at Yale University School of Medicine. He completed his residencies in psychiatry/research track at UPMC Health System, Western Psychiatric Institute, and in adult psychiatry at the University of Sao Paulo.
Soares succeeds Robert W. Guynn, M.D, who stepped down as chair in 2007 to concentrate on his duties as a board member of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He remains on the faculty as a professor. Colasurdo thanked Pedro Ruiz, M.D., for his leadership and service as interim chair of the department. Ruiz is a professor and the president of the World Psychiatric Association.
Deborah Mann Lake
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