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University of Iowa News Release


May 27, 2011

UI Health Care names new head of psychiatry

University of Iowa Health Care leaders announced today they have selected James Potash, M.D., M.P.H., as the new professor and head of the UI Department of Psychiatry, pending approval by the Iowa Board of Regents.

Potash helped create the Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., and is currently the center's research director. He also serves as co-chair of the bipolar disorder task force for the National Network of Depression Centers. He is a member of the Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology study section for the National Institutes of Health, the Research Grants Committee for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the editorial board of Neuropsychiatric Genetics.

"Dr. Potash has a strong national reputation and a most impressive background," said Jean Robillard, M.D., UI vice president for medical affairs. "We are very pleased that he agreed to come to Iowa and help lead our outstanding professionals in the Department of Psychiatry."

Potash will replace Robert Robinson, M.D., who will retire after leading the UI Department of Psychiatry for 21 years. During Robinson's tenure, the department grew from 26 faculty members to the current complement of 68, while research grants increased from $3.1 million to $20.3 million. He is also credited with advances in clinical service, including the Assertive Community Treatment for seriously and persistently mentally ill persons. Robinson is internationally recognized as an expert in the study of post-stroke depression.

Potash serves on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, where he holds the Arlene and Robert Kogod Chair in Mood Disorders.

The primary focus of Potash's research regards the genetic basis of mood disorders. He is the principal investigator on two major grants from the National Institute of Mental Health aimed at studying the genetics of bipolar disorder, and the epigenetics of stress and depression.

"The research being conducted by Dr. Potash is critically important to understanding the links between genetics and mental illnesses," said Paul Rothman, M.D., dean of the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. "His efforts will certainly benefit our students, residents and patients."

In addition to his research, Potash is an active clinician who sees patients on the Mood Disorders Inpatient Service and in the Mood Disorders Consultation Clinic at Johns Hopkins.

"We place a great deal of emphasis on finding health care professionals who not only are great researchers, but who also do an excellent job of taking what they learn in the lab and bringing that knowledge to bear upon caring for their patients," said Kenneth Kates, associate vice president and CEO, UI Hospitals and Clinics. "Dr. Potash clearly meets and far exceeds all of those criteria."

Following his graduation from Yale University, Potash served in the Peace Corps in West Africa. He earned a master's degree in public health and a medical degree at John Hopkins University. He completed his residency training at Johns Hopkins, including serving as chief resident in his fourth year. He joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins in 1998 and has risen to the rank of professor.

Potash is scheduled to assume his new post on July 15.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Marketing and Communications, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room W319 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,