Chair's Letter

Alan J. Gelenberg, M.D.

Alan J. Gelenberg, M.D. Professor and Chair

Like all of medicine and health care, psychiatry stands poised on a threshold of great and rapid changes. In the near future, advances in imaging, molecular biology, genomics, and related research areas will unlock many of the brain's mysteries, allowing more personalized treatments, based on new understanding of pathophysiology. Psychiatric patients, their families, and society at large will benefit. It is an exciting time to be a physician and to specialize in the evolving field of psychiatry.

Penn State's Department of Psychiatry and I are firmly committed to improving care for people with mental illness in our region. In 2008, the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Pinnacle Health, both not-for-profit corporations, came together to create the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI) in Harrisburg, our state's capital. PPI represents a commitment to enhanced collaboration, continuity of care, and growth among existing mental health services in Central Pennsylvania. PPI offers inpatient care, with a 16-bed child-and-adolescent unit and 58 adult beds on three distinct units. PPI's outpatient and partial hospitalization services are housed in 2 clinical sites in Harrisburg. A majority of our academic out-patient activities take place in Hershey Medical Center's Psychiatry Clinic in Hershey. We provide psychiatric consultation to Hershey Medical Center, collaborate with Pediatrics in an Eating Disorders program, and have an active part in a Sleep Disorders Clinic.

At Penn State Hershey, we take our educational mission to heart. We recognize the dynamic fluidity of our field and know that many of the details we teach tomorrow's doctors will be obsolete in a few years. Treatments are evolving, and our faculty stays at the cutting edge. But much of what we teach is enduring. Our medical students, residents and fellows learn how to learn, how to approach new scientific knowledge with healthy skepticism and a clinical perspective. We teach how to think clinically, how to translate evolving science into bedside application. We teach lifelong learning. And we teach and model ageless clinical wisdom, listening "with the third ear," empathy and awareness of patients as human beings in need. We have a required third-year medical-student clerkship in Psychiatry, electives, student research, and an active Psychiatry Interest Group for medical students. We have a Psychiatry residency, Child and Adolescent fellowship, and a new psychology internship. Our department supports neuroscience graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Research has been an integral component of this Department from its inception. We encourage scientific investigation by medical and graduate students, fellows, and residents, as well as by faculty. The founding research focus of our Department was the Sleep Research & Treatment Center, which treats patients with sleep disorders and expands knowledge through epidemiologic, behavioral, pharmacologic, and metabolic studies to improve treatment. Today our science has expanded into many areas relevant to psychiatric care with basic (cellular and animal), clinical (child and adult) and neuro-imaging research. With the large and heterogeneous patient population of PPI, we are embarking on a new research horizon in clinical, services, and epidemiologic studies. We have a growing scientific portfolio in substance abuse, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and mood disorders and a major role in Penn State's new Institute for Personalized Medicine.

Penn State Psychiatry embraces our field and its future. Our missions are to expand and transmit knowledge and to improve lives. We welcome all who would join us in our service.

Alan J. Gelenberg, M.D.
Shively/Tan Professor and Chair