Howard Department of Psychiatry Hosts Black Psychiatrist of America Conference

By Malcolm Maurice

WASHINGTON -- Howard University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science will host the Black Psychiatrist of America, Inc. (BPA) spring conference on April 20 and 21 in the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library.

The conference is titled "Genetics, Psychiatry and Culture: The Mental Health Status of African-Americans at the Crossroads" and will have four course sessions, a question and answer session and an evening networking reception.

Dr. Vivian Ota Wang will provide a one-day tutorial Friday, April 20, on "Genomics and Psychiatry:  What Race and Genomics Are and Aren’t in Meaning and Measurement." Wang is the program director of the Human Genome Project, an analysis of the 20,000-25,000 genes in the human DNA coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. The data collected from the project is used to address ethical, legal and social issues, promote innovative research and foster the development of new medical applications.

Friday will conclude with a 6 p.m. reception in the library.

On Saturday, the conference will feature four sequential forums led by different speakers.

The speakers are:

Dr. Evaristus Nwulia, assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the Psychiatric Genetics Laboratory at Howard University. Nwuila will discuss "Ethnic Disparities in the Perception of Ethical Risks from Psychiatric Genetic Studies."

Dr. William D. Richie, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Meharry Medical College, will speak on "Some Aspects of the Pharmaco-Genomics of Major Depressive Disorder."

Dr. Georgia Dunston, professor of microbiology and former director of the Howard University Human Genome Center, will discuss "Genomic Medicine: It’s Personal."

Dr. Lisa Dixon, professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, will talk about "Racial Differences in the Experiences of Family Members of Persons with Mental Illness."

Dr. William B. Lawson, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Howard University College of Medicine and Howard University Hospital and president of Mental Health America for Washington, will be the moderator.

BPA will celebrate their 43rd annual Legacy Awards Reception from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. April 21 at the Capital Hilton. Among the award honorees are Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross, psychiatrist, pediatrician and president of All Healers Mental Health Alliance, and Dr. Price Cobb, pioneer psychiatrist, author and the president and chief executive officer of Pacific Management Systems.

BPA was created in 1969 to address the mental health concerns of underserved populations in the United States with a special emphasis on those of African descent. Since its inception, BPA has become an advocate for underrepresented populations regardless of ethnicity, gender, culture or religion. BPA has members in mental health professions from the U.S., the Caribbean, South American and Africa.

Download a copy of the meeting schedule here.

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