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Chair moves department toward Excellence

by Megan Fink
Public Relations
The recent appointment of Thomas Uhde, M.D., as chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, augments the depart-ment’s leadership and visibility on a national level.
Dr. Thomas Uhde

The department already has accomplished faculty conducting pioneer research in many different areas, while providing an education to students that is matched only by a handful of other departments nationwide, said Uhde. “That doesn’t mean there’s not work to do. It just means that the current level of excellence must be maintained as we move into new areas of discovery.” Such areas include pharmcogenomics and the identification of biomarkers for the diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.
Prior to his appointment at MUSC, Uhde chaired the psychiatry department at Penn State University’s Hershey Medical Center. He also directed the Central Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute and the Penn State Hershey Neuroscience Research Institute. Uhde’s experience assists him with the challenge of managing a large clinical department that is research intensive. “Working in a complex system such as MUSC is humbling,” Uhde said. “It is exciting to be associated with people at all levels of our organization who take pride in service delivery and strive for academic excellence.”
Specializing in anxiety, mood and sleep disorders, Uhde has contributed to hundreds of research publications and was a founding  editor of Depression and Anxiety. The Institute of Scientific Information has designated Uhde as a highly-cited scientist as a result of his great number of publications in peer-reviewed journals.
Uhde’s major goals for the next six months are to further integrate the department’s missions of clinical service, research and education. A primary focus will be to establish relationships with  internal stakeholders, as well as other agencies that provide mental health care and provide substance abuse treatment in the region. Another goal is to develop behavioral science service lines that are multi-disciplinary. The latter goal focuses on inter-departmental partnerships, a one-stop shop for clinical care. “It means placing psychiatrists and mental health professionals alongside our medical and surgery colleagues,” Uhde said.
Uhde also is taking a comprehensive approach when it comes to recruiting. “We currently have many double- and triple-boarded physicians, and will likely continue to recruit individuals with such multiple-specialty training,” said Uhde.
The department’s faculty, staff and organizational structure contribute to Uhde’s leadership style. “Once some of the organizational elements are tweaked, internal and external recruiting will naturally evolve,” said Uhde. “I don’t believe in recruiting someone just as good as you.  I believe in recruiting people better than you.” With first-rate professionals a part of the team, Uhde’s style is then “to get out of the way.”
Uhde is pleased that several faculty members in the department also have assumed leadership roles throughout the university to help shape the larger missions of the university and academic health system.
In addition to fulfilling MUSC’s vision of Excellence, the department hopes to achieve an even more active partnership with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health and other government agencies. “They participate in the strategic planning of community services, and we must work together with these agencies to meet the mental health and substance abuse treatment needs of our community and region,” said Uhde.

Friday, April 11, 2008
Catalyst Online is published weekly, updated as needed and improved from time to time by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.