Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Fall 2016 Newsletter — Dell and Psychology Partner to Advance Psychological Science

Wed, December 14, 2016
Fall 2016 Newsletter — Dell and Psychology Partner to Advance Psychological Science
Dell Med School students paint a mural at Hope Gallery in Austin

Dell Medical School and UT Psychology Partner
to Advance Cutting Edge Psychological Science


This past June, the Dell Medical School (DMS) opened its doors to a newly built building on campus and to its first class of 50 students (out of a highly competitive 4,528 applicants). The newest of 18 colleges and schools on the UT Austin campus, the School's mission is to “revolutionize how people get and stay healthy.” Being the first medical school to be built in nearly 50 years from the ground up at a top tier Association of American Universities (AAU) research university gives it a leading edge to accomplish this mission. The UT Department of Psychology is especially pleased to partner with Dell Medical School in this historic endeavor.

At it's opening, UT President Gregory Fenves described the School as, “developing a new model for medical education that partners with the community, redesigning health care to better align with society’s interests in quality and value." He explained further, "We are creating and supporting partnerships and programs that will revolutionize the way Texans get and stay healthy, combining clinical work with an innovative learning culture that is team-based and multiprofessional, drawing on the strengths of the university.”

“Psychology research and practice are focused squarely at the intersection of health and behavioral change," says Professor David Schnyer, the Psychology Department Liaison for Medical Affairs with DMS. "As a result, Psychology plays an increasingly critical role in medical schools. Whereas psychiatry and psychology share an interest in mental illness, a greater focus of psychology is on mental health. This has very important implications in a medical setting, as successful management of human health depends on understanding and modifying human behavior in a way that leads to healthy living. Our faculty are already engaged in cutting edge science focused on the intersection of human behavior and health, studying topics such as obesity, cardio vascular risk, stroke, traumatic brain injury, mood and anxiety disorders, stress modulation, pharmacology, genetics, aging and health behavior.  Given this perspective, the Department of Psychology has been actively focused on building a strong working relationship with the newly emerging Dell Medical School and we believe we have a lot to offer."

To this end, the Psychology department has seen an acceleration of this relationship in exciting and positive ways this year. Beginning in early meetings with the new Dean of DMS, Clay Johnston, some of the most notable developments have included:

  1. Psychology department faculty actively involved in the hiring process for two critical chairs—one in Psychiatry, and one in Neurology;
  2. The Chair of Psychiatry, as well as several other key initial faculty hires at DMS, were given appointments in Psychology; and
  3. The department has actively focused on hiring two senior faculty in translational research that will be jointly appointed with DMS. The first of these hires, which we hope to announce soon, is through a partnership between Neurology and Psychology, and a second search is underway for a position in Psychiatry and Psychology.

In addition, we are continuing our collaboration on the development of excellence in biomedical imaging at DMS. Lastly, through a collaborative agreement with Dell Children’s Hospital, 2 MEG (magnetoencephalography) scientists are now appointed 100% research faculty in the Department of Psychology. In addition to these activities, a broad range of research collaborations have begun to emerge including between faculty at the Institute for Mental Health Research (IMHR) and a number of physician researchers at DMS and Seton Healthcare.

We are also thrilled that two of our recent Psychlogy alumnae were in the DMS inaugural class! Cierra Grubbs (Psychology B.S., 2015) and Pooja Parikh (Psychology B.S., 2016) were two of the 50 students admitted this year. (Read about them here: First Class: Rethinking Health Care Through the Liberal Arts).

The connection between Psychology and DMS is off to a strong and fruitful start. We believe that the future holds many special opportunities where cutting edge psychological science can contribute in unique ways to the future of medical research, care and education.



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