Introduction and Welcome from the Chair

Welcome to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences!

Our department enjoys some of the same qualities as its Pacific Northwest home: an entrepreneurial spirit, a wealth of innovative ideas, a sense of discovery, and engaged people who want to make a difference. We are an integral part of the University of Washington, a leading global university, and of the UW School of Medicine, a top ranked school in research and in primary care. We advance basic and applied mental health research, train the next generation of health professionals and researchers, and improve the lives of people, one patient at a time.

With nearly 1,000 faculty, staff, and trainees, our department has an active presence in each of UW Medicine’s clinical locations throughout the Puget Sound region. We also serve as the only academic psychiatry department for five states in the Pacific Northwest known as the WWAMI region that covers more than 25% of the landmass of the continental United States (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho).

One of the most notable strengths of our department is the scientific breadth and depth of our faculty. Our research programs range from basic neurosciences to health services and population health. Our scientists are engaged in cutting-edge research that helps us better understand the brain and behavior, paving the way for new treatments that will ultimately improve the lives of people in Seattle and around the world. Our research portfolio includes work in neurodevelopment, autism, addictions, mental health and substance abuse problems, and healthy brain aging. One of our most widely known innovations is the concept of Collaborative Care. In this model, psychiatrists and other mental health specialists work closely with other health care providers to offer effective treatments for the physical and the emotional needs of our patients. Our research has demonstrated that Collaborative Care leads to better patient care experiences, better clinical outcomes and lower overall health care costs, helping us achieve the Triple Aim of health care reform.

Our clinical training programs and research fellowships attract exceptionally talented individuals who are among the most competitive applicants in the country. The scale and diversity of our faculty and clinical sites, coupled with the richness of the UW academic community and our culture of scientific inquiry and discovery, allow us to provide leading-edge clinical and research training experiences to the next generation of scientists and mental health practitioners. Our graduates are working in communities and health care settings that serve diverse and underserved populations in the five-state WWAMI region and beyond.

This is an exciting time in US health care. Earlier this year, key provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act became effective that may ultimately give 60 million Americans new or better mental health coverage. This is both a wonderful opportunity and also a tremendous challenge for those of us in mental health care. There is little doubt that the next 15 years will be a time of substantial change, and our department embraces this challenge. We believe that mental health is an integral part of all health, and we are excited about doing our part to advance the mission of UW Medicine: to improve the health of the public through clinical care, training, and research.

I have had the pleasure of working at the University of Washington for more than 15 years and I have learned that Seattle is a wonderful place to work, to live, and to raise a family. Looking beyond our university, we find ourselves in a part of the country that is blessed with remarkable beauty, tremendous natural and cultural resources, a pioneering spirit, and a highly educated population. I invite you to explore our website to learn about our programs and faculty, and to catch some of the excitement that motivates our work.

Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, MA
Professor and Chair


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