Winners of 26th Annual Albert J. Silverman Research Conference Awards Announced

Rrom left to right: Christopher Fitzgerald, Liz Duval, Dr. Arash Javanbakht and Dr. Gregory Dalack

From left to right: Christopher Fitzgerald,  Dr. Liz Duval, Dr. Arash Javanbakht and Dr. Gregory Dalack

On May 27, the U-M Department of Psychiatry wrapped up its 26th Annual Albert J. Silverman Conference. The conference featured a posters session, several talks on eHealth approaches for individuals with mental health and substance abuse concerns and it also included an awards ceremony celebrating young investigators.

This was the conference’s 26th year held in honor of Dr. Albert Jack Silverman, M.D., C.M.. Dr. Silverman was a noted psychiatrist, neuroscience researcher and former chair of two university psychiatry departments. He is credited with redirecting the department’s research, education and treatment programs, and leading during a time of great change.

This year’s Silverman Research Conference first place resident winner was Dr. Arash Javanbakht for his research titled Instructed fear learning, extinction, and recall: additive effects of cognitive information on emotional learning of fear. “Our findings suggest that cognitive preparation prior to trauma (e.g. educating the vulnerable populations) can reduce fear response after the trauma,” said Dr. Javanbakht. “Our research will hopefully lead to better prevention and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The first place student winner was Christopher Fitzpatrick for his research titled Subanesthetic ketamine decreases sign-tracking and increases goal-tracking behavior in sign-trackers. Mr. Fitzpatrick noted that “the majority of individuals in the United States have tried at least one drug of abuse, yet only some individuals will develop drug addiction. In this study, Dr. Jonathan Morrow and I investigated individual differences in addiction vulnerability in rats in order to better understand and develop treatments for addiction.”

The first place post-doc prize was awarded to Liz Duval, PhD for her research titled Neural Mechanisms underlying Emotion Modulation during Recovery from Acute Stress. “While most people naturally recover from traumatic events, some people will go on to develop problems like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression,” said Dr. Duval. “We are trying to learn more about changes in the brain that can predict recovery from stress and trauma and to hopefully develop more individually tailored treatments.”

“I was impressed both during the posters session and during presentations today. Our faculty and trainees are poised to make a powerful impact for our patients and in our field. Once again, Silverman Day reminds us of the great work we have underway. The future is very bright for the Department,” said Dr. Gregory Dalack, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry.

Learn more about the 26th annual Silverman conference and its history here: http://www.psych.med.umich.edu/events/silverman/