Psychiatry chair delivers lecture about department’s future

Brittany Wagner

Stephen Strakowski, inaugural chair of the Psychiatry Department at the new Dell Medical School, held an hour-long informational session Thursday afternoon to discuss his research plans and ultimate goals for the department. 

The Dell Medical School is a new entity on campus — the construction of its facilities were only completed in June  and it welcomed its inaugural class that same month. Before joining the nascent medical school, Strakowski served as the senior vice president at the University of Cincinnati Health, where one of his main focuses was research. 

Strakowski said he hopes the legacy he leaves with the University and with the city of Austin will be to change the city’s healthcare system in such a way that the rest of the country looks to it as an example. 

“Our main goal is to meaningfully change how mental health gets delivered through cutting edge, novel research … looking at how we can do this better and improve outcomes,” Strakowski said.

His lecture stressed the importance of multi-skilled researchers working collaboratively and with the community, and he invited interested students or
faculty members to join his team. Additionally, Strakowski discussed the difficulties doctors face in the muddled world of health care, calling for integration across many fields of discipline. 

There were about 60 people in attendance, ranging from undergraduate students to faculty members. 

Biology freshman Farah Saleem thinks it’s important for prospective medical students to attend lectures like these because she sees them as opportunities to learn more about professors. 

“Looking at how they function is important to understand so we can be motivated to work that way, too,”
Saleem said.

Public health junior Lauren Russell was intrigued by Strakowski’s approach to redesigning the public health system.

“As a public health student, I’ve learned about health disparities and I know that the current health system is ineffective, so I’m interested in finding new, innovative ways to change that,” Russell said.

Although there is a lot of financial red tape surrounding the health care system, Strakowski said he values improving others’ lives. Over the next three to five years, Strakowski plans to implement strategies that include partnering with the community to develop new models of care and recruit researchers who want others
to succeed.