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New psychiatry chair is bringing three NIH grants to DMS

New psychiatry chair Alan Green
Photo: Dehainaut and Richards

When Peter Silberfarb, M.D., who has headed the DMS Department of Psychiatry since 1986, steps down as chair in November, Harvard psychiatrist Alan Green, M.D., will step up to fill the seat.

"I am excited about the opportunity to become chair of Dartmouth's Department of Psychiatry, a first-rate department with a reputation for excellence in clinical care, teaching, and research," says Green.

"I look forward to working with members of my department and with faculty and staff from throughout the Medical School and Medical Center to continue and even to enhance the department's position of leadership in the clinical and academic aspects of psychiatry."

Green will also be bringing his clinical and animal research program—and a few collaborating investigators—to DMS. In addition, he will serve on the advisory board of Dartmouth's new Neuroscience Center. It will link DHMC, DMS, and Dartmouth College neuroscience experts under one umbrella, blending clinical neuroscience, basic neuroscience research, and cognitive neuroscience research.

Inception: Green has directed Harvard's Commonwealth Research Center (CRC) since its inception in 1987. The CRC, which is based at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, is a clinical research center for the study of patients with severe mental illness. Green also heads the center's office of research administration and its neuropsychopharmacology laboratory and is on the medical staff at the Brigham and Women's and Beth Israel-Deaconess Hospitals.

An active researcher and the principal investigator for three ongoing grants funded by the National Institutes of Health, he heads programs that involve clinical and biologic studies of patients with schizophrenia and related psychiatric disorders. His work focuses on the action of atypical or novel antipsychotic drugs like clozapine.

Clozapine is a relatively new medication for patients with schizophrenia and other disorders, especially those who have not responded to standard antipsychotic drugs like haloperidol, chlorpromazine, and fluphenazine. Traditional antipsychotics, which block dopamine receptors in the brain, control "positive" symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, and confusion. But new antipsychotics like clozapine block a broader range of receptors—for dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine— and can be used to treat a wider array of schizophrenia symptoms, including "negative" ones like lack of motivation.

One strand of Green's research seeks to understand how clozapine works and to determine whether early intervention with this drug (or other novel agents) is able to improve the long-term course for people with schizophrenia.

Another strand involves exploring a finding that clozapine limits substance abuse in patients who have schizophrenia (about half of those with schizophrenia also abuse alcohol or other substances).

In addition, Green is collaborating on studies of the effects of antipsychotics on patients' hormone systems, particularly in women with schizophrenia.

Education: Green received his undergraduate education at Columbia and his medical degree from Johns Hopkins. He did his clinical training at Harvard, Beth Israel Hospital, and the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and also held a research fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health. He then was a clinical fellow in psychiatry and a senior research fellow in psychiatry at Harvard, before joining the faculty there. He is currently an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard.

Green's wife, Frances, is a trial lawyer, and they have eightyear- old twins, Isobel and Henry.

Laura Stephenson Carter

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