April 05, 2013

Specialist in molecular biology of mood disorders joins UAB Psychiatry

Written by
The UAB Department of Psychiatry continues its robust growth with the addition of Yogesh Dwivedi, Ph.D., an international leader in the basic science underlying severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

Yogesh-DwivediDwivedi, currently a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will join UAB Aug. 16, 2013, as a professor and director of translational neuroscience in the Mood Disorders Program. Pending approval by the Board of Trustees, he also will be the inaugural holder of the department’s Elesabeth Ridgely Shook Endowed Chair.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Dr. Dwivedi to UAB,” said Jim Meador-Woodruff, M.D., the Heman E. Drummond professor and chair of UAB’s Department of Psychiatry. “His expertise will anchor the basic science component of our translational approach to treating severe mood disorders.”

Six specialists in mood disorder research or patient care have joined UAB’s Psychiatry department since January 2012, including Richard Shelton, M.D., the Charles B. Ireland Professor and vice chair for Research in the department, who came to UAB to create and direct the Mood Disorders Program.

“We are well on our way to becoming a top-10 depression and mood disorders center,” Meador-Woodruff said. One-third of the department’s research funding is in mood disorders work. The department is also heavily engaged in community outreach programs across the state for major mental illness and suicide prevention and awareness.

Since Meador-Woodruff joined UAB in 2006, 44 new faculty members have been recruited into the department. Collectively, they have added $25 million to UAB’s extramural grant base since their arrival.

“The recruitment and targeted growth in strategic areas, such as the neurosciences, are part of UAB Medicine’s AMC 21 strategic plan. Investment in highly productive faculty like Dr. Dwivedi is a hallmark of the plan,” said Anupam Agarwal, M.D., interim senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine. “This is another step toward deepening our excellence at UAB and helping to build a knowledge-based economy for Birmingham and Alabama.”

Dwivedi’s research is extensively funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Stanley Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. His focus is on the molecular biology of mood disorders and suicide, examining the roles of neurotransmitter receptors, cytokines, neurotrophins, cellular signaling and neural plasticity in depression and suicide risk using gene expression, RNA sequencing, microRNAs, and epigenetic approaches.

A native of India, Dwivedi earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Allahabad and a doctorate in biochemistry from the Central Drug Research Institute. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he joined the faculty in 1994.

Dwivedi has received a number of awards and honors, including the Rafaelson Fellowship Award of the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologicum in 2000, a Young Investigator Award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2001, and the Young Investigator Colloquium Award from the International Society for Neurochemistry in 2003 and 2005.

He has been a member of the International Association of Suicide Prevention Task Force- Genetics and Neurobiology of Suicide since 2009 and also served as a Topic Expert for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Research Task Force in 2012. He has been on the Scientific Advisory Board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention since 2009 and is currently serving as a member in its Research Grants Committee. Additionally, he serves on the NPAS Review Committee for the National Institute of Mental Health. He has had many grants as principal or co-investigator from the NIMH, NARSAD, the Stanley Foundation, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He has had 99 peer-reviewed publications, and 13 book chapters; recently, he edited The Neurobiological Basis of Suicide.

Meador-Woodruff said philanthropic funds were essential to successfully recruit Dwivedi to UAB. “This is an example of the importance of philanthropy to what we do for discovering new science and helping more patients,” he said.

Click here for patient information about the Department of Psychiatry.