The Jefferson Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior is one of 19 clinical departments in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. The medical college, one of the oldest in the nation, was founded in 1824 and is part of Thomas Jefferson University, a medical and health sciences educational institution. Today, the Jefferson Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior is a highly renowned and esteemed clinical and academic department in the region.
More than a century after the Medical College was founded, the Department of Psychiatry at Jefferson Hospital was established in 1942 under Dr. Baldwin L. Keyes, who became the first Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry. The establishment of the department symbolized the increasing importance and awareness of mental processes as a part of physical disease and as cause of mental disorders.
In 1957, through the efforts of Dr. Keyes and aided financially by Mrs. Mabel Pew Myrin, the fourteenth floor of the Thompson Building was converted into a Psychiatric Unit. This was the first specific unit for the care and treatment of nervous disorders at Jefferson Hospital and one of the first in Philadelphia.
Between the years of 1962 and 1974, the department grew from 54 faculty members and four residents to 24 full-time faculty, 78 part-time faculty, and 10-15 residents. In 1974, Daniel Lieberman, MD, became the department’s Acting Chairman until 1976. He also served as Acting Chairman from 1983-1988.
During his time in this position, Dr. Lieberman established a family therapy section, a child psychiatry section, a psychosomatic medicine program, including a biofeedback laboratory, a day hospital, and an additional inpatient unit at Jefferson, together with an expanded outpatient program. A Division of Substance Abuse was developed as well.
In 1982, under Dr. Paul J. Fink, the department’s fourth Chairman (1976-1983), the annual report of the department showed that it had grown to 275 faculty members, 20 honorary members, and 38 residents. The residency program was also fully accredited by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Fink also expanded programs in undergraduate and graduate training, clinical treatment, research, and affiliations. The Department of Psychiatry became one of the largest of the Medical College.
Over the next 36 years, the department was under the guidance of Drs. Daniel Lieberman (Acting 1983-1988), Troy Thompson (1988-1997), Stephen Schwartz (Acting 1997-1998) and Dr. Michael J. Vergare (1998-2019). Dr. John Lauriello is the current Daniel Lieberman Professor and Chairman, appointed in 2019. The department now consists of 28 full-time faculty, 115 part-time and volunteer faculty, 33 residents, and 18 fellows.
The department is based in Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, a 717-bed tertiary and quaternary care hospital in Center City, Philadelphia. It also has roles in the Jefferson Hospital for Neurosciences and Methodist Hospital, divisions of Jefferson Hospital systems. In addition to Adult Outpatient Services, the Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior also provides Adult Inpatient Services, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Outpatient Services, Consultation-Liaison Services, Geriatric Inpatient Services, Substance Abuse Programs, and services at the Sleep Disorders Center.
Department administration is supported by a Chair, Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, Vice Chair for Education, and Administrator. Professional staff within the department include physicians, psychologists, residents, fellows, a nurse practitioner, researchers, and support staff.