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Chairman's Message

mark rapaport  
Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD

The year 2016 continues to be a year of exciting of growth and change in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory. We are adding 22 new faculty to our department. This includes not only growth at our Grady affiliate and at the VA, but also a substantial increase of faculty available to take care of patients within our Emory Healthcare component of the department. We have also recruited two outstanding translational faculty members: Zhexing Wen PhD, an expert in inducible pluripotent stem cells and the brain, has joined us from Johns Hopkins and Vasiliki Michopoulos PhD has completed her fellowship training and is joining our department as an Assistant Professor pursuing her translational work both at the Yerkes National Research Primate Center and our Grady Trauma Project. This spring our Department hosted the American Psychiatric Association and the Society for Biological Psychiatry meetings. As you can see from the article below, we were good hosts.

Two members of our department, Dr. Cathy Rice and Dr. Larry Young, had the honor of being the hosts for Emory University for Dr. Temple Grandin, who was given an honorary degree by Emory at Commencement this year. Dr. Grandin visited our Autism Center, our Center for Social Neuroscience, gave a lecture to the public and met with family and clients from our Emory Autism Center. Read more about it here.

This spring and summer also will be a time of exciting renovations in our Brain Health Center at Executive Park 12. We are in the process of adding an additional 50 treatment rooms to the building as well as renovating the first floor of the building to include at 200 seat conference and education space as well as the Mary Rose Taylor Lobby. Another part of this renovation will include a café on the first floor for patients and staff.

So as you can see, this is a time of continued growth and change for our department. Have a wonderful summer!

Lisa Parr: A scientist focused on Social Cognition

Lisa Parr, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Lisa Parr, PhD, may be best known for her passion for her primate research. But colleagues may not know how she originally became such an animal lover. "I was raised in Australia for seven years," says Parr, an affiliated scientist in the Yerkes Division of Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience. "We did a lot outside and the animals there were so wonderful. I learned such a respect for nature and animals growing up there."

While Parr's Australian accent has long faded away, her love for primates has continued. After connecting with esteemed primatologist Frans de Waal, PhD, as an undergraduate, Parr followed de Waal to Yerkes to work in his lab. A few years later, she began graduate studies at Emory. Now Parr spends her days researching social cognition in primates through her own Emory lab and as a faculty member in Emory's Center for Translational Neuroscience.

"The major focus of our work right now is looking at the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying the development of social cognition," Parr says. Specifically, Parr's lab is the first in the world to research the impact of multiple doses of oxytocin on the development of social cognition in a large group of infant primates.

While oxytocin is popularly known as a neuropeptide linked with love and attachment, Parr's work adds to a growing body of research showing that oxytocin may also reduce socially impaired behaviors linked to autism. "In the case of autism, for example, we see individuals who have problems with social relationships and understanding body language, facial expressions, and emotional states," says Parr. She is hopeful that oxytocin in single or repeated doses may decrease these social deficits. "The idea is to be as translational as possible," says Parr.

Atlanta hosts American Psychiatric Association meeting


On Tuesday, May 17, Emory's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences hosted a reception for people attending the American Psychiatric Association ( APA) meeting along with Skyland Trail at the Carter Center . This reception was followed by the Dorothy Fuqua lecture which is supported by Rex and Duvall Fuqua and Tom and Edwina Johnson in honor of Mrs. Fuqua's support of mental health issues. We were honored to have Former First Lady Rosalyn Carter who has been a tireless advocate in the field of mental health for over four decades, welcome the audience and make remarks. Mark Hyman Rapaport MD of Emory introduced the panelists and Ray Kotwicki MD of Skyland Trail served as moderator.

The panelists included Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds, Ms. Julie Hersh, author and President of the Hersh Foundation and the Honorable Patrick Kennedy, author and advocate for brain research through the Kennedy Forum and One Mind for Research. This panel addressed personal connections to mental illness and the stigma around these issues. Each of their stories were compelling and insightful. You can view the lecture here.

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On June 15, 2016, The Resident, Intern, Post-Doctoral and Fellow graduation took place in the Emory University Auditorium with family, faculty, staff and friends watching our graduates receive their certificates. This year's graduating class included 55 graduates. Teaching awards were presented at this event which was followed by a luncheon at Executive Park 12.

We are proud of all of our graduates and wish them well in the future. We appreciate all of the faculty (including our adjunct faculty) and staff who to play such an important part in training the mental health workforce of the future.


Lloyda Broomes Williamson, M.D., Emory General Psychiatry residency class of 1993, Emory Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship class of 1995, was recently hired to be the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. She graduated from Meharry Medical College School of Medicine in the class of 1990.

Please send us your accomplishments to Phyllis Rosen at prosen@emory.edu.


Dr Cathy Rice and her staff at the Emory Autism Center joined the launch of SPARK, the nation's largest Autism research study. Read more here.


Dr. Nadine Kaslow was interviewed for a Today Show segment on Midlife Crisis: Is it a myth? Watch here.


Dr. Jennice Vilhauer shares a nightly ritual to boost your self-esteem in 30 days. Read more here.


This section will highlight different aspects of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences that people may not be aware of.

Jennifer Felger PhD and her colleagues in the Emory Behavioral Immunology Program are doing research to show that brain imaging data combined with the exploration of the immune system help to define a subtype of depression that may lead to the development of innovative personalized treatments. Read more here.

Jeff Sanders MD/PhD is a clinically trained psychiatrist within the Center for Translational Neuroscience (CTSN). His NIH sponsored research creates rodent models that help us to understand the biological basis of empathy. This is lead to the development of novel treatment strategies for psychopathology. To read more about his work here.

Emory has a number of new clinical studies that are actively recruiting people seeking treatment as well as control participants. If you are interested in learning more, please click here.


Your support will help us to partner together for Atlanta and Beyond. To make a gift to the Department of Psychiatry please click here.

If you have any comments or suggestions please contact Phyllis Rosen LCSW at prosen@emory.edu