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59th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

November 27, 2012

The 59th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry was held in October in San Francisco, CA. A reception hosted by Fred Volkmar, chair, and Dorothy Stubbe, training director, on behalf of the Yale Child Study Center was held at the meeting, welcoming current departmental members and alumni. The event was a delightful evening with approximately 60 people attending, during which trainees interested in joining the department were welcomed, old friends were reunited, and the latest work of the department was discussed.

During presentations at the meeting, many labs and clinical groups from the Child Study Center were represented, highlighting recent discoveries about the genetics of autism and Tourette Syndrome, fMRI responses in children with autism and mouse models of brain development as well as important new guidance for clinical work including treatment of childhood trichotillomania, screening adolescents for substance abuse, and transitioning adolescent patients to college life.

Clinical Practice was the focus of Clinical Perspective Presentation sessions to which several CSC members were important contributors. Patricia Leebens, assistant clinical professor in the CSC, presented in a session on helping families navigate the transition to colleges where she focused on practical considerations of this transition. Chris Hammond, Solnit Integrated Fellow, presented in a session on ensuring clinicians feel prepared to treat adolescent substance abuse, where he discussed the epidemiology of and ways to screen for these problems. Jim Leckman, professor,also discussed building on strengths and keeping development on track in children with neuropsychiatric disorders as a master clinician at a Clinical Consultation Breakfast.

In a Special Interest Group, Bob King, professor, chaired a discussion about Tourette’s syndrome and related disorders with co-presenters, Michael Bloch, assistant professor, Jim Leckman, Larry Scahill, professor, and Denis Sukodolsky, assistant professor. Dorothy Stubbe also presented within a Special Interest Group for Career Pathways for Women in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Teaching and helping to guide child psychiatrists throughout their career was also the focus of Dorothy Stubbe’s participation in a session on using media to teach and a Member Services Forum in which multiple panelists discussed strategies for early career success.

The latest research of members of the CSC community was also highlighted in scientific symposia and institutes. Jim Leckman, presented about epigenetics that are relevant to who we are in a symposium exploring the evolution of the brain. Fred Volkmar, chair of the CSC, was a speaker in an Institute integrating research and clinical care of children with autism, discussing differential diagnosis of autism and related disorders. Larry Scahill spoke in a symposium focused on improving precision in child psychiatric clinical trials where he presented about how best to predict positive responses on tic severity in randomized trials.

Fred Volkmar chaired a symposium on New Advances in the Autism Research. Presenters included scientists from the CSC with exciting new findings. Kasia Chawarska, associate professor, presented about mechanisms and phenotypes when autism presents in infancy. Jamie McPartland, assistant professor, discussed how the social motivation hypothesis may help us understand how children with ASDs perceive faces. Kevin Pelphrey, associate professor, presented about the search for endophenotypes for ASDs. Abha Gupta, associate research scientist, presented about the latest advances in ASD genetics research.

Hanna Stevens, assistant professor, chaired a symposium that explored how animal models are helping to advance the field of child psychiatry. Two other child psychiatrists from the CSC presented in this forum: Ellen Hoffman, associate research scientist, discussed how zebra fish can be used to study the function of genes implicated in autism and Kyle Williams, Solnit Integrated fellow, discussed how mice can be used to understand the role of the immune system in childhood behavioral disorders.

Two recent graduates of the Solnit Integrated Child Psychiatry Residency, Tom Fernandez, instructor, and Tammy Vanderwal, postdoctoral fellow, chaired a data blitz featuring “Previews from the Pipeline.” In this venue, eight different early career investigators each presented their work in exactly seven minutes. Included in these presenters were two other recent Solnit Integrated Program graduates, Michael Bloch and Hanna Stevens. Presenters then discussed questions from a panel of established investigators, moderated by Matt State, professor, and including Jim Leckman. Organizers implemented the latest technology as they took questions from the audience via a special internet-based question room. The session was very well attended and very well received—many believe it will be become a standard annual meeting event that will highlight the most exciting new talent in the field.

Posters were presented by Eli Lebovitz, from the Anxiety Program, on Family Accomodation in pediatric anxiety disorders, Rebecca Hommer, postdoctoral fellow, on attention bias in perceiving faces in children with severe mood dysregulation, Paul El-Fishawy, from the lab of Matthew State, on genes associated with autism found in Egyptian pedigrees, Michael Bloch on the use of n-acetyl cysteine for treatment of trichotillomania, Ellen Hoffman, from the lab of Matthew State, on the use of the zebra fish model for studying genetics of autism, and Hanna Stevens on the role of glucocorticoids in the effects of prenatal stress.

Several trainees in the Child Study Center were also honored with awards at the annual meeting. Rebecca Hommer received the AACAP Beatrix A. Hamburg Award for the best new research poster by a child and adolescent psychiatry resident. Chris Hammond was a recipient of the AACAP Educational Outreach Program Award for Residents in Alcohol Research. Rebecca Muhle, Solnit Integrated Fellow, was a recipient of the AACAP Educational Outreach Program Award for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residents supported by AACAP Endowment. Nicole Zuber, second year child psychiatry fellow, was a recipient of the AACAP Educational Outreach Program Award for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residents supported by the AACAP Life Members Fund. Hannah Reed, Solnit Integrated Fellow, was a recipient of the AACAP Educational Outreach Program Award for General Psychiatry Residents. Eric Arzubi, second year child psychiatry fellow, was a recipient of the 2012 System of Care Special Program Award. Carina Martin, a medical student mentored by Jim Leckman, was the recipient of an AACAP Summer Medical Student Fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Another member of the department, Brian Keyes, assistant clinical professor, was also honored with elevation to the level of AACAP Distinguished Fellow.

CSC faculty involvement in collaborations with other institutions was also evident in the poster sessions where these collaborations clearly are producing new research that would not be possible without this kind of team scientific approach. Young-Shin Kim, associate professor, was among the authors on a fMRI study of social brain networks in children with ASDs, Larry Scahill was among the authors on a study of weight gain and iron status in children with ASDs treated with antipsychotics, and Jim Leckman was among the authors on a study of cardiovascular side effects in stimulant treatment of ADHD.

Submitted by Cayetana Celeste Navarro on November 21, 2012