President’s Page

Dear ASHP Members,

On May 16th the American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry had its 2015 Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, under the Presidency of Mauricio Tohen. The meeting had an outstanding array of presenters with the common theme “Hispano-American Research and Training Collaborations” and included collaborations between researchers of the United States and Mexico, Spain, Peru, Colombia, and others countries in Latin America. The common element in all presentations was the advantages of these collaborations, the challenges to make them happen, and their rewarding results.

This element was quite evident in the presentation by Juan Gallego who opened the meeting. Juan and his research team examine CSF biomarkers in patients with first episode psychosis before they have been exposed to antipsychotic medication. He explained that thanks to his collaboration with Camilo de la Fuente-Sandoval in Mexico, they have been able to recruit a sample of patients that had not been possible with US patients. He shared some of his impressive results that included not only the biomarkers but also results in neuroimaging and other clinical variables. Along the same lines Mercedes Perez-Rordriguez and Enrique Baca-Garcia shared results of their collaboration through the World Research Consortium for Suicide (WORECA) and the MeMind Project . They explained how they have established an international project, in various countries in America and Europe. They shared information on their studies in Aggression and Personality Disorders, and the development of a Cross-National tool for assessing and studying Suicidal Behaviors. Again touched on the common element that their collaboration has allowed them to recruit a larger sample of specific population of patients. They especially touched on their experience with visiting researchers for observorships and fellowships. In fact, Dr. Perez-Rodriguez’ closing statement was “when we collaborate, we all win (cuando colaboramos todos ganamos)”

Bernardo Ng closed the first part of the program, with a presentation on a project that he leads with Alvaro Camacho from the Sun Valley Research Center, in collaboration with Mirna Trancoso, Perla Orozco and Severiano Lozano from Mexico, and Katherine Parra and Ricardo de la Espriella from Colombia. They studied the Body Mass Index of patients exposed to antipsychotics, for different diagnostic categories. This was a pilot project with no funding, and done by full time clinicians. Mauricio Tohen started the second part of the academic part of our meeting, and talked about the satisfying experience with psychiatry residents from Mexico rotating at the University of New Mexico. These residents go through a rigorous process to qualify for funding donated by a Mexican citizen interested in enhancing the training of future Mexican psychiatrists. Following Mauricio was Manuel Sanchez de Carmona who is the current President of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders He shared the successful experience in their society, not only in research but also in education and in the clinical enrichment of their members around the world, but especially with Latin American members as they form around 60% of the membership of this society.

Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, Oscar Jimenez-Solomon, and Renato Alarcon gave a thorough presentation on their experience with the International Field Trial of the DSM-5 Cultural Formulation Interview. They discussed the process of the field trial using mixed methods (i.e. open ended questions, quantitative ratings of feasibility and clinical utility) and the results of this collaboration between the New York State Psychiatric Institute in the United States and the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. One of the most important issues discussed was the acceptability and the perceived clinical utility of the interview with a Peruvian sample. Finally and closing our meeting was Carlos Zarate, this year’s recipient of the Simon Bolivar APA Award. He gave us a preview of his presentation that was scheduled the next day at the APA meeting.  He shared about his work at the NIMH Bethesda campus, especially in the field of the use of ketamine for treatment of depression. He also gave us information on the education programs for PGY4 psychiatry residents, fellowship programs, residency electives and medical student electives; and on successful completers of post-doctoral programs from various countries in Latin America.

Besides the scientific discussion of the different and interesting presentations, attendees and presenters discussed the future of our Society.  Among other things the importance of promoting more collaborations with Hispanic colleagues as well as with non-Hispanic colleagues interested in the study and treatment of Hispanics with Mental Health needs, in the US and abroad.

A Presidents’ meeting attended by Maria Oquendo, Renato Alarcon, Jose Canive, Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, and our current President Mauricio Tohen preceded the academic portion of the meeting.

Mauricio Tohen MD, DrPH, MBA
Professor and Chairman
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center