September, 2013
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Society of Biological Psychiatry
"Scientists collaborating to eliminate the suffering of mental illness."
In This Issue
SOBP Vision Statement
Message from the Editor
2014 Meeting - President's Message
2014 Meeting - Call for Abstracts
Executive Secretary Report
Other Meetings of Interest
Get Involved
Add SOBP to your Contacts
SOBP Contact Information
SOBP Vision Statement


The vision of the Society of Biological Psychiatry is to integrate, advance, and promulgate science relevant to psychiatric disorders, in order to reduce or prevent the suffering of people with these conditions.  


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In This Issue 

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Message from the Editor

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"People argue the loudest over that which they know the least."

-          S. Strakowski, sometime in the mid- to late-1980's, Nashville, TN.


In this newsletter, I loose associate between John Csernansky, teaching residents, and the NatGeo TV showBrain Games. Dr. Csernansky is our new SOBP president and in this issue provides a letter announcing that this year's meeting topic is bridging the translational gap, with an emphasis on the process of scientific translation. This topic reminds me of my annual introductory research lecture to UC residents focused on epistemology, namely the processes of how we 'know.' In short, we acquire knowledge by interpreting experiences, obtained through our senses. However, we have huge foreheads that impact this process. What? Well, we posses huge foreheads because our skull expanded to protect a grossly overgrown prefrontal cortex (relative to other animal species) and although this overgrowth ultimately allows us to balance our checkbooks, do calculus, and learn to drive, it evolved to permit us to successfully interact and collaborate with the most rewarding and dangerous aspects of our environment, namely other humans. These collaborations were necessary for us to compete against a world of faster, fiercer animals. However, these interactions are not managed through logical discourse, but by "nuancing" emotion-driven behaviors into socially adaptable outcomes (remember, our genes don't care about science and intellectual discourse, they care about survival and reproduction, the primary goals of the big prefrontal cortex). Why is this relevant to how we acquire knowledge? Because our attention to and interpretation of information integrated within this massive prefrontal cortex are focused and colored by our social-emotional environment. Surprisingly, this even impacts scientists, since, it turns out, they are humans (often to their own surprise). If you are skeptical, watch the show Brain Games (or a good con artist) to see how much your brain misses. As I tell residents, people make nearly every decision emotionally, simply because it is how we are wired, so it is faster. Think back to the pro/con lists that you made when, in the end, you chose the rationally poorer choice (cons) because it 'felt right.' Fortunately, if you have good enough genes and had good enough parents, doing this generally is adaptive. Unfortunately, among other shortcomings, it leads to the N=1 experience in which a single, random event is translated into a universal (emotional) truth. It is precisely because our brains primarily function emotionally that clever epistemologists decades ago developed the scientific method, as a way to acquire knowledge systematically to try to offset how we naturally make decisions. Unfortunately, we abuse the scientific method with our language and our emotional thinking every day.

                The scientific method is designed to make hypotheses, i.e., educated guesses, and then to test the hypotheses by trying to disprove them. The designers of the method chose to disprove, rather than prove, because a single event can disprove, whereas it takes infinite events and knowledge of the universe to prove. Related to this, we test hypotheses, not theories. Theories are hypotheses that have withstood multiple tests over long periods of time; they are not truths, they are ideas that have been difficult to disprove. Below is an exhaustive list of psychiatric theories.


Psychiatric theories:


So, as we talk about our work, the words 'prove' and 'theory' have no place; when we use them, we are speaking emotionally. The scientific method does not prove; it only disproves. No psychiatric hypothesis has risen to a theory. The scientific method cannot declare something to be true (that is the realm of religion and philosophy - also legitimate ways to acquire knowledge, but not scientific knowledge), and we cannot be certain (that is the realm of arrogance); we must approach our craft with modesty remembering that our attention is focused on things emotionally important to us while we miss nearly everything else. Fortunately, with our big foreheads, we can apply intellectual modesty to a disciplined scientific method to notice new aspects of our world and find innovation in our processes in order to understand the most complex structure in the universe - our own brains. With this innovation, we can develop new paradigms (a recurring theme in my newsletters, for both of my regular readers) to improve the lives of the people we treat. With this in mind, let's respond to Dr. Csernansky's challenge to improve our processes in scientific translation as we prepare for our next annual meeting.


Best Wishes



Best Wishes

Steve Strakowski, MD

Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Development

UC Health Vice President for Research

Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience    


Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed in these editorials are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Society of Biological Psychiatry, its officers, or members.

2014 Meeting - President's Message
Dear Members of the Society, 

It is my honor to serve the Society as its President this year. As you know, one of the most important responsibilities of the SOBP President is to choose the scientific theme for next year's meeting of the Society, and to choose the Chair of the Program Committee. I'm delighted to tell you that Dr. Jair Soares, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas at Houston, has agreed to serve as the Chair of the Program Committee for next year's meeting. The scientific theme for next year's meeting will be "Accelerating Scientific Translation".  

One of the great strengths of our Society is the scientific breadth and depth of our membership. In addition, we have had a historical commitment to translating new scientific knowledge into advances that benefit the care of our patients with psychiatric illnesses. At no previous time has the need to accelerate the process of scientific translation been greater. We have witnessed, and contributed to, amazing growth in our understanding of the structure and function of the brain, and how brain function forms the basis for cognition and behavior. However, relatively little of this knowledge has been translated into meaningful improvements in our ability to diagnosis and treat our patients with psychiatric disorders. The translation of this new knowledge into new diagnostic tools and therapies is one of the most important challenges of this generation of neuroscientists. 

For next year's meeting, I am inviting plenary speakers who are working to bridge the translational "gap". Some of their narratives will be stories of success - others will be "works in progress".  I will be asking our plenary speakers to focus on the process of scientific translation as well as their specific discoveries. In addition, I would like to encourage the submission of proposals for panel sessions that focus on specific aspects of the process of scientific translation - including the study of specific obstacles as well as opportunities.  Oral and poster presentations will round out the program.   I hope to engage all of you in a discussion of how we can accelerate and improve the process of scientific translation in neuroscience. I can think of no better community of scientists than the members of our Society to address this critical need. 


John G. Csernansky, M.D. 
President, SOBP

2014 Meeting Announcement

Society of Biological Psychiatry's 69th Annual Meeting

May 8-10, 2014
Hilton Midtown  

New York, NY  

Special Notice:  Meeting is AFTER the APA Meeting


The development of new diagnostic biomarkers and treatments for psychiatric disorders depends on the process of scientific translation. In psychiatry, the process of scientific translation faces special obstacles because of the unique complexity of the human brain.  Nonetheless, we now have an unparalleled opportunity to overcome these obstacles, because of recent advances in neuroscience, genomics, proteomics, neuroimaging and computational biology.  Next year's program will feature plenary lectures where the process of scientific translation is deconstructed and analyzed, so that we can identify better strategies for developmental success.  The submission of regular panel sessions that focus on specific elements of the translational process are encouraged. Working together, we are poised to succeed in improving the treatment we can offer to our patients, so that they can enjoy more successful lives.    


Submit Abstracts Now 



September 1, 2013 - Call for Abstracts Opens

October 24, 2013 - Symposium Proposals Due

December 12, 2013 - Oral and Poster Abstracts Due

January, 2014 - Registration Opens


Join SOBP now to receive discounts to submit abstracts and attend the 2014 annual meeting.   

Visit SOBP.ORG or email  


Visit SOBP.ORG frequently for updated program information. 
Questions?  Email or call 904-953-2842.   


Executive Secretary Update
Dear Fellow SOBP Member,

The responsibility of your Council is to make sure that our Society reflects the goals of our bylaws and that we rest on solid financial ground. With a sound Annual Meeting supervised at every point by our Executive Director, Maggie Peterson and a wonderful flagship journal under the direction of our Editor, John Krystal, and our publishing director at Elsevier, Josh Spieler, we have been fairly successful recently. As you probably know, we have continued to thrive as a Society despite the fact that we accept no money from outside pharmaceutical companies. Indeed, with Elliott Richelson as your Treasurer (and John Rush before him), we have steadily been growing our resources to a point where we are both secure for our future and now able to reinvest in our Society. This financial stability is a major development over the last year, but it reflects the culmination of hard work over many prior years.


With this "reinvestment" strategy in mind, we have embarked on an ambitious multiyear effort to encourage and support young scientists, as they represent the future of our Society. This initiative is the result of much discussion and planning, starting with the vision of David Braff and other former members of Council and culminating with the leadership of our immediate past-president, Scott Rauch. We have already reduced the rates of membership, increased our number of Travel Scholarships and developed a substantial mentorship program at this past year's Annual Meeting. In fact, our special thanks goes out to Linda Carpenter and Maria Oquendo for their energetic stewardship of this new program during the first year of operation. Moving forward under the direction of this year's president, John Csernansky, we will further expand the mentorship program and have established an Education Committee to help redesign and enhance the overall educational experience at our Annual Meeting. While this effort will initially focus on the younger scientists, we want to improve the continuing education for all of our Society members and guests in future years, and we welcome your feedback.


Finally, each year at our Annual Meeting, we have a business meeting where we review the major issues facing our Society. And each year, we meet with the 10-20 attendees who make time for the review in what is already an incredibly busy meeting schedule. While it is sometimes a struggle to find different ways to keep our membership fully informed of the latest developments, we keep at it, and for the most part, you get the important information one way or another. In fact, this newsletter represents yet another new development within the Society, and one that we hope you are beginning to appreciate. Thanks to the efforts and innovation of our Editor, Steve Strakowski, the newsletter is an opportunity for you to hear about what the Society is doing throughout the year, not just at the Annual Meeting. We encourage you to support this effort by sending your thoughts to Steve and making suggestions for future articles or editorials.


Trey Sunderland, MD - Executive Secretary   

Society of Biological Psychiatry 

Other Meetings of Interest

September 20-22, 2013
Chicago, Illinois     

21st World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics
October 17-21, 2013
Boston, Massachusetts    


December 8-12, 2013

Hollywood, Florida

22nd European Congress of Psychiatry
March 1-4, 2014
Munich, Germany 

16th Annual Conference of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders
March 18-21, 2014
Seoul, South Korea  

Schizophrenia International Research Biennial Conference
April 5-9, 2014
Florence, Italy  

Get Involved - Join a Committee
Did you know that 15% of our members are actively engaged on Society committees?  Want to be engaged and involved with one of our committees? Looking for a leadership opportunity?  Then signup to join one of the Society's many award committees or a task force.  Click here to tell us which groups you would be interested in joining.
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SOBP's Career Center connects our members with employment opportunities and employers with the best professionals within our membership. Employment opportunities range from post-doc positions, faculty positions, neuroscience jobs in industry and alternative careers.
Visit SOBP's Career Center  today to explore employment opportunities.  Post an anonymous resume for employers or recruiters to view.
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Society of Biological Psychiatry Business Office
4500 San Pablo Rd - Birdsall 310
Jacksonville, FL 32224
904-953-2842 Office
904-953-7117 Fax
Biological Psychiatry Editorial Office
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
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214-648-0880 Office
214-648-0881 Fax
Society of Biological Psychiatry Newsletter Editorial Staff 

Stephen M. Strakowski, MD, Editor

Editorial Board
Helen Mayberg, MD
William B. Lawson, MD, PhD, DLFAPA 
Alan H. Young, MD, PhD
Caleb M. Adler, MD
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