Of Grants, Innovation and Clinical Support

Psychiatry Director Jimmy Potash shares the latest news and promising developments from the department.

Published in Brain Wise - Brainwise Fall 2019


As the leaves turn toward brilliant colors, I thought I’d let you know about some things that are turning out well in the department. In the research arena, the hottest areas for federal funding are the opioid crisis and Alzheimer’s disease. So, it’s not surprising that our biggest recent grants involve the opioid field, with three federal grants worth a total of $16 million. They will cover areas such as better ways to use buprenorphine, and strategies to treat withdrawal so that patients in detox stick with it rather than drop out.

A major National Institutes of Health grant also came in for Alzheimer’s disease, to psychologist Quincy Samus, to fund MEMORI (Making Engagement Meaningful Through Organized Routine Interaction) Corps — a novel way to support dementia patients and their caregivers in the home environment. We also received private funding of $16 million to create the Johns Hopkins Center for Research on Psychedelics and Consciousness, led by professor Roland Griffiths. This will allow us to initiate projects examining the potential of psilocybin to treat conditions such as anorexia nervosa and post-traumatic stress disorder.

On the education front, U.S. News & World Report has a new ranking of medical schools for their educational quality in psychiatry, and we come in at #2 in the country. This is a wonderful validation of the caliber of our program, which will be further strengthened by a recent $250,000 gift to enhance opportunities on the clinician-educator track within the residency.

The big clinical news is that the school of medicine has created a clinical faculty track. Johns Hopkins has always had only a single track throughout its 125 years, and we were the last medical school to maintain that approach. The new track gives us greater opportunity to reward clinically oriented faculty, which should help with recruitment and retention. This is a very positive turn of events for our department, especially given that clinical excellence has always been central to our identity. The response of many of our leading faculty: “Brilliant!”