Newswise — Seth Himelhoch, MD, MPH, has been appointed as the new Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, effective July 1, 2024.

Himelhoch comes to UChicago from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, where he has been serving as the Lon and Ann Hays Professor and Chair of the UK Department of Psychiatry since 2018. He is a public health researcher whose career has focused on developing and testing evidence-based interventions, including those for HIV and substance use disorders and cancer control. Since 2005, he has received continuous funding as a principal investigator from the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and National Cancer Institute, as well as through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. He leads one of the federal Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science, and his current work seeks to evaluate, both nationally and internationally, the most promising behavioral and pharmacologic treatments aimed at achieving maximal efficacy for smoking cessation among people living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Himelhoch received his medical degree at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and completed his residency training in general psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He completed a fellowship in health services research through the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he concurrently received a master's degree in public health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Himelhoch also completed a fellowship in Implementation and Dissemination Science through the NIH-sponsored Implementation Research Institute and additional leadership training through the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program.

At UChicago, Himelhoch will focus on a strategic vision of excellence for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience’s research, clinical, and educational missions. He will partner with multidisciplinary scientists based in the Neuroscience Institute and the Departments of Neurology, Radiology and Pediatrics to answer critical questions related to the research nexus of neuroscience, substance use disorders, and complex psychiatric conditions across the lifespan. Additionally, Himelhoch will partner with multidisciplinary scientists in the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center to help expand the portfolio of research focused on behavioral interventions to promote cancer prevention. He also will collaborate with leaders of the clinical neuroscience service line to integrate research and psychiatric services for patients with neurologic illnesses and focus on recruitment and career development of new faculty members to meet the growing psychiatric needs of our local patient community.

Himelhoch succeeds Daniel Yohanna, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, who has been serving as interim chair of the Department since 2016. During his tenure, Yohanna led efforts to grow the department faculty by 25%, increase the workforce from two to 13 providers, and add more psychiatry and psychology trainees, including integrating a teaching service into Ingalls Memorial Hospital. The Department expanded clinical encounters by 29% in three years, successfully managing increased mental health needs and transitioning to virtual visits during the pandemic. The Department also established a 24-bed forensics unit with a State of Illinois contract and was instrumental in the designation of Ingalls as a safety net hospital for psychiatric care.