The crisis in mental health in the United States is no secret, as is the shortage of behavioral health providers. To help address these interrelated issues, members of the Board of Advisors for the UCLA Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital (RNPH) endowed a term chair to foster junior faculty members for careers in academic behavioral health.
Artha Gillis, MD, PhD, who studies the long-term effects of early-life adversity on children, was named the inaugural chair holder for the RNPH Board of Advisors Term Chair in Psychiatry.
Dr. Gillis is an Assistant Clinical Professor in Department of Psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. She completed specialized clinical training in adolescent mood disorders as a Max Gray fellow, and also trained for the care of patients with intellectual disabilities. Gillis specializes in evaluating and treating children who have experienced sexual trauma and studies its effects on mental health and learning. She uses methods such as machine learning and functional neuroimaging to understand the impact of these events on brain structure.
“I am humbled and exceedingly grateful for this opportunity,” Gillis said. “I hope to honor the commitment of the RNPH Board of Advisors to excellence and equity in behavioral health.”
Gillis has been a member of the UCLA faculty since 2021, after serving as a staff psychiatrist. She earned her PhD from Texas A&M University College of Medicine before attending the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, where she also completed a residency in psychiatry. She completed two fellowships in psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Gillis is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Forensic Psychiatry.
The endowed chair was established by donations totaling $1 million from board members. The funding represents the shared vision of the board for greater awareness of behavioral health, expanded clinical capacity, and research that advances the field.
Among the donors is Board Chair Laurie Gordon, who has long been a champion on mental well-being and provider training. Gordon spearheaded the creation of the Max Gray Fellows, and continues to raise funds for the training and mentorship of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists for the treatment of mood disorders, especially among adolescents and young adults, when risk of suicide, depression, psychosis, and eating disorders is greatest.
Gordon said of the gift, “The board wanted to show our commitment to our community – and the institution for which we volunteer our time. We agreed that the best message we could send was through a chair that supports new clinicians during the most difficult part of their career, when they transition from a decade of training to research and clinical care.”
The Board of Advisors for the hospital continues to raise its profile with activities and events that seek to engage families in candid conversation about mental illness, which they believe will reduce the stigmas of these disorders. The Board’s work includes the Wisdom of Wellness (WOW) Summit event that the Board produces and financially supports. The 2023 WOW Summit will be moderated by Oprah Winfrey and will feature speakers who offer everyday habits to improve one’s emotional well-being, including diet, sleep, relationships, and how compassionately we ‘speak to ourselves.’
“Endowed chairs are important for the burgeoning careers of young faculty who are jointly establishing a clinical practice and research portfolio,” said Dr. Steve Dubinett, interim dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine. “Startup funding is required and the endowed chair provides annual resources for Dr. Gillis, this will serve as a monetary springboard for her investigations into the pathology of these conditions and eventual interventions and therapies. This chair complements her skillset providing resources for transformative progress. My sincere appreciation to the Board of Advisors for their vision and generosity.”
UCLA Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital board of advisors
Dr. Robin Berman
Cece Feiler, board vice-chair
Dr. Nancy Glaser
Laurie Davis Gordon, board chair
Terry Hyman Hamermesh
Dr. Huey Merchant
Dr. Bill Resnick