UTHealth psychiatric residents win Mind Games national contest

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Vineeth John, M.D.

Vineeth John, M.D.

The winning team, from left: Garima Arora, M.D.; Marsal Sanches, M.D.; and Ashley Toutounchi, M.D.

The winning team, from left: Garima Arora, M.D.; Marsal Sanches, M.D.; and Ashley Toutounchi, M.D.

HOUSTON – (June 13, 2013) – For the final question in the 2013 American Psychiatric Association’s Mind Games competition, it was not enough to name the medication (ketamine) that has been shown in a few small studies to have a rapid antidepressant effect in treatment refractory patients. Contestants also had to write down its principal mechanism of action (an N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist).

But the team of psychiatric residents from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) didn’t hesitate and for the third time – the second year in a row – they won the competition and bragging rights for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

The Jeopardy-like competition was held during the association’s annual meeting in San Francisco. The winning team included Garima Arora, M.D., chief resident; and Marsal Sanches, M.D., and Ashley Toutounchi, M.D., both third-year residents. They bested finalists from New York Presbyterian/Cornell and UCLA.

“We are just so proud of them – we really have the greatest residents!” said Jair Soares, M.D., chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UTHealth Medical School. “And thanks to Dr. Vineeth John for the great coach he is to get them through this difficult and very competitive process.”

The preliminary online competition begins in February, when teams of three residents take a 60-minute online test together, consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions covering both psychiatry and neurology, with a few difficult history-of-psychiatry questions to make it interesting. Mind Games is open to all psychiatry residency programs in the United States and Canada.

“As defending champions, we couldn’t bomb this year. It was a nail-biter,” said Arora, who was on last year’s winning team. “A lot of people were there to cheer us on, which was very heartening.”

In addition to the Mind Games victory, the Department of Psychiatry residents brought home three additional high-profile awards. Nilesh Tannu, M.D., second-year resident, won the Janssen Resident Scholar Award awarded by the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education. Theresa Bui, M.D., second-year resident, won the Best Poster Award in the Community and Social Psychiatry Section for her description of UTHealth residents’ participation in Vietnamese radio and television. Elizabeth Nguyen, M.D., third-year resident, received the APA-SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Award for 2013-2015 for creating a robust Community Outreach Project among Houston’s Vietnamese Community.

“The UTHealth residents ruled the poster sessions,” said Vineeth John, M.D., associate professor and director of the Adult Psychiatry Residency Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UTHealth Medical School. “A perfect amalgam of scholarship, instinct, and intuition, we were able to showcase our program’s strengths to an audience of almost a thousand.”

Deborah Mann Lake
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030