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Meet the new Interim Director of the Semel Institute, Alex Young, M.D., M.S.H.S.


Greetings from the Semel Institute!  At the present time, we have all been affected by the COVID pandemic, professionally and personally. Many have made sacrifices, and unfortunately, this is likely to be with us for some time.  At Semel, we have been working hard to ensure that we can continue our clinical services, research, and education in this difficult context, while ensuring the safety of our staff.


After more than 20 years of service, Dr. Peter Whybrow has stepped down as Director of the Semel Institute.  He was a remarkable and effective leader, overseeing impressive growth and the development of nationally leading research and education. As of March 1, I became the Interim Director of the Semel Institute and Interim Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. Over the past month, I have been spending time meeting the remarkably talented and productive people we have here, and learning about their work. I had an opportunity to attend a meeting of the Friends of Semel board. I have been very impressed by the Friend’s work and dedication, including the Open Mind program and Friends Scholars Research program.  Early in my career, I was fortunate to receive a similar scholar award that was critical to supporting my development, and allowing me to launch my career.  I come to my current role as a psychiatrist, clinician and researcher with a career-long commitment to improving treatments and services for people with mental illness. Over the years, I have led numerous research projects to improve the care of people with mental illness, and have worked with families and communities to support innovations in information, care, and implementation of services.  I have seen too many patients and families whose lives have been seriously negatively affected by mental illness.  We need more effective treatments, better deployment of effective treatments, and better information about mental illness and addiction.  While there has been some improvement in the public’s understanding of these problems, there is a lot more work to do.


I look forward to getting to know the Friends of Semel, and to working together to advance its mission, despite the current challenges.