FOR RELEASE: April 28, 2006

GALVESTON, Texas — Dr. Robert M.A. Hirschfeld, professor and chair of the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, has been named the first recipient of the university’s Harry K. Davis, M.D. Professorship for Excellence in Psychiatric Medicine.

Hirschfeld was awarded the endowed faculty position at the April 28 Titus Harris Society meeting at Moody Gardens in Galveston. The society honors Dr. Titus H. Harris, the first faculty member and chair of UTMB’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Established in 1960 by Harris’ former students, the society provides a forum for annual professional psychiatry meetings.

Among those present for the announcement of Hirschfeld’s appointment to the Davis Professorship was the couple who established the endowment, Dr. Harry K. Davis and his wife, Joanne. Joanne Davis is a graduate of the UTMB School of Nursing. Harry Davis is a 1949 School of Medicine alumnus who currently serves as director of psychiatry for DMS Services for Correctional Managed Care at UTMB.

Harry Davis said he is pleased that Hirschfeld is the first to hold the professorship. “Dr. Hirschfeld has made outstanding contributions to the treatment of bipolar disorder,” said Davis, a former president of the Titus Harris Society. “He’s been a national and international educator in this field as well. This is a common mental disorder, and it’s extremely devastating. We’re thrilled to have Dr. Hirschfeld here at UTMB.”

Davis, a member of UTMB’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences faculty for more than 40 years, has become well-acquainted with Hirschfeld, who joined the department in 1990. Hirschfeld said receiving the professorship bearing Davis’ name is quite an accolade, considering the scope of Davis’ accomplishments. “Dr. Davis has been associated with UTMB for over four decades and has made more contributions to the university than I can count,” said Hirschfeld, who also holds the Titus Harris, M.D. Endowed Chair in Psychiatry. “He has truly made a difference in the lives of many, many people. To hold a professorship in his name is a great honor. If I can accomplish 10 percent of what he has done during my tenure here, I will be satisfied.”
Dr. Valerie M. Parisi, dean of the UTMB School of Medicine, announced Hirschfeld’s appointment during the Titus Harris Society meeting. She commented on the long and distinguished legacy of the university’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “It has historically been home to psychiatric faculty who excel in both clinical care and scientific discovery,” said Parisi, the Thomas N. and Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair. “I can think of no better way for Drs. Davis and Hirschfeld, two extraordinary professionals and human beings, to come together in support of UTMB and this vitally important discipline than through the establishment of this endowment.”

UTMB President John D. Stobo said the Davis Professorship is appropriate recognition of Hirschfeld’s contributions to the field of psychiatry. “This professorship is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Hirschfeld’s efforts to increase our understanding of the human mind,” Stobo said. “The Davis Professorship will be an important asset for him, providing financial support for his entire field of work, whether in clinical care, research or educating the next generation of psychiatrists. I’m grateful for this generous contribution from Dr. and Mrs. Davis. We’re fortunate to have alumni like the Davises who have demonstrated a lifetime of support, involvement and devotion to the well-being of their alma mater.”

Hirschfeld has compiled an extensive research portfolio, which includes bipolar, major depressive and anxiety disorders. His work has led to recognition among the publications Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors. Hirschfeld has been honored also with the Nola Maddox Falcone Prize from the National Association for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the Gerald L. Klerman Lifetime Research Award and Jan Fawcett Humanitarian Award from the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association, and the Gerald L. Klerman Award for Panic Disorder from the World Psychiatric Association.

Hirschfeld joined the UTMB faculty after serving as chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Mood, Anxiety and Personality Disorders Research Branch. After graduating from the University of Michigan Medical School, he completed his graduate education and residency training in psychiatry at Stanford University.

Davis has practiced psychiatry at UTMB and in the Clear Lake area. He is actively involved as a clinical faculty member in the university’s departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Family Medicine. An emeritus fellow of both the American College of Psychiatrists and the American Psychiatric Association, Davis has served on the external advisory council of the UTMB School of Allied Health Sciences, as well as on the Texas Medical Association’s board of directors. The Galveston resident is a recipient of the Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award, the UTMB School of Medicine’s highest alumni honor. Davis is also a longtime member of the university’s Development Board, a volunteer organization that helps create fund-raising strategies for the university and that acts as its “ambassadors,” assisting in outreach efforts to alumni, patients and other supporters.

In addition to the Davis Professorship, Joanne and Harry Davis have established the School of Allied Health Sciences Competitive Academic Scholarships Fund and the Harry K. Davis, M.D. Research Fellowship in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
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