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David A. Lewis, M.D., Named Chair of Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 30, 2009 – The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has named David A. Lewis, M.D., a noted expert on schizophrenia, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and medical director of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) of UPMC.

Dr. Lewis is UPMC Professor of Translational Neuroscience in the  Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine; professor of neuroscience in the School of Arts and Sciences; and director of the Translational Neuroscience Program at the University of Pittsburgh.  His research focuses on the neural circuitry of the prefrontal cortex and related brain regions and the alterations of this circuitry in schizophrenia. In addition to his academic responsibilities, Dr. Lewis serves as director of a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Conte Center for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders in the Department of Psychiatry, which is focused on understanding the role of prefrontal cortical dysfunction in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

“Dr. Lewis’s exceptional talents as a translational researcher will guide the continuing evolution of the Department of Psychiatry, which has led the nation in National Institutes of Health research funding for more than a decade,” noted Arthur S. Levine, M.D., University of Pittsburgh senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine.

“Dr. Lewis identifies a critical clinical problem, conducts a broad range of basic science studies to understand its biology, and then translates that understanding into a clinical intervention,” Dr. Levine said. “As one of his colleagues put it, David is the definition of the translational researcher.”

Dr. Lewis succeeds David J. Kupfer, M.D., chair of the department since 1983. Dr. Kupfer has returned to his academic and clinical pursuits at the School of Medicine.

“Dr. Lewis brings the necessary expertise and a strong commitment to Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and the UPMC Behavioral Health service line, as well as the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry,” said Claudia Roth, Ph.D., president of WPIC and vice president of UPMC Behavioral Health. “In this role, he will provide the leadership needed to advance WPIC’s national and international pre-eminence in behavioral health.”

Dr. Lewis received his bachelor of arts in psychology and his medical degree from the Ohio State University. After completing residencies in internal medicine and psychiatry at the University of Iowa, Dr. Lewis pursued research training at the Research Institute of the Scripps Clinic in California. He arrived in Pittsburgh in 1987 as associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience.

An author of more than 300 scientific articles, Dr. Lewis serves as deputy editor of The American Journal of Psychiatry and a section editor of Neuroscience. In 2007, he was appointed to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences for his contributions to the advancement of schizophrenia treatments and his efforts to bring the importance of this major public health issue to the forefront. He also has received the Leiber Prize from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), the Dean Award from the American College of Psychiatry and the Warren Award from the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research, each of which recognizes major contributions to advancing the understanding of schizophrenia. Dr. Lewis is the only investigator in the nation to have simultaneously held an NIMH Conte Center directorship, NIMH Senior Scientist, and Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Awards, which provide long-term financial stability to researchers. In addition, he has twice received the American Psychiatric Association Kempf Award in recognition of his mentoring activities with young physician-scientists. He serves on the Scientific Council for NARSAD and is a member of both the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Council and the National Advisory Mental Health Council.

Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry consistently receives more federal funding for behavioral health and addiction research than any other department of psychiatry in the nation, a distinction the department has earned for more than a decade. In fiscal year 2009 the department received more than $75 million in research funding from a variety of external sources including the National Institutes of Health. Approximately 80 percent of this funding supports clinical research projects, many of which directly benefit individuals who receive psychiatric services at WPIC or through UPMC Behavioral Health.

For a high-resolution photo of Dr. Lewis, contact Megan Grote Quatrini at (412) 586-9769.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997 and now ranks fifth in the nation, according to preliminary data for fiscal year 2008. Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region’s economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see www.medschool.pitt.edu.

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