December 08, 2020

Shelton joins Huntsville Regional Campus as first-ever director of research

Written by

richard shelton webInternationally recognized physician scientist Richard C. Shelton, M.D. is joining the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus of the UAB School of Medicine as its first-ever director of research, a new position to help establish clinical investigation and clinical trials in Huntsville.

Shelton is the Charles Byron Ireland Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology and founding Director of the UAB Depression and Suicide Research Center. He joins the Huntsville campus on March 1, 2021 as a professor of psychiatry and will continue to serve as director of the research center in Birmingham.

In Huntsville, Shelton will launch a new research affiliate of the Depression and Suicide Center’s clinical trials program, which will bring new treatment interventions and therapeutic options to patients in Huntsville and North Alabama.

After establishing the program in psychiatry, campus leaders hope to expand the research enterprise to create a network of affiliated research sites in Alabama that will conduct research across a range of medical disorders.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Shelton and his wealth of knowledge to the Huntsville campus,” said Roger Smalligan, M.D., dean of the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus. “His expertise in psychiatry, along with his depth of experience developing and operating successful research programs, will be an incredible resource for North Alabama.” 

Shelton has over 35 years of research program experience, spending 26 years at Vanderbilt University before joining UAB in 2012. He and his colleagues have had more than 130 funded research studies from the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies, along with foundations and industry.

Shelton’s research focuses on the development of new ways to treat and prevent depression and suicide. This work includes testing new treatments, prevention of serious mental illnesses and suicide, and identifying biomarkers of both disease and treatment response. Recent research studies include participating in two large-scale pharmacogenomics trials that study the effectiveness of ketamine and esketamine intranasal treatment in patients with resistant depression.

“Huntsville is the most rapidly growing region in Alabama, and there’s relatively little clinical medical research happening there in the outpatient environment. With the growing population there are needs we can address through clinical research,” Shelton said. “The presence of clinical trials will provide patients access to treatments and tests otherwise unavailable.”

Shelton attended medical school at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He was then a resident at a Harvard Medical School affiliated hospital in Boston. After residency, he was a research fellow at the National Institutes of Health Intramural Program in Washington, D.C. before joining the faculty of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Clinton Martin, M.D., regional chair of Psychiatry in Huntsville, said recruiting Shelton to the Huntsville campus will not only enhance the clinical research and patient care in Huntsville, but will also enhance medical training. The campus trains third- and fourth-year medical students and is home to the Huntsville Internal Medicine Residency and Family Medicine Residency programs.