Dr. Artha Gillis, a UCLA psychiatrist who studies the long-term effects of early-life adversity on children, will be the inaugural holder of the RNPH Board Advisors Term Chair in Psychiatry. The endowed chair was funded by members of the board of advisors for the UCLA Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital to foster junior faculty members’ careers in academic behavioral health.
Gillis is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She completed specialized clinical training in adolescent mood disorders and training in the care of patients with intellectual disabilities.
Gillis specializes in evaluating and treating children who have experienced sexual trauma and studies its effects on mental health and learning. She uses methods such as machine learning and functional neuroimaging to understand the impact of traumatic events on brain structure.
“I am humbled and exceedingly grateful for this opportunity,” Gillis said. “I hope to honor the RNPH board of advisors’ commitment to excellence and equity in behavioral health.”
Gillis has been a member of the UCLA faculty since 2021, after serving as a staff psychiatrist. She earned her doctorate from Texas A&M University College of Engineering before attending the UC Davis School of Medicine, where she earned her M.D. and completed a residency in psychiatry. She also completed two fellowships in psychiatry at the Geffen School of Medicine. Gillis is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry.
The endowed chair was established by donations totaling $1 million from board members. The funding represents the shared vision of the board for expanding clinical capacity and research that advances the field of behavioral health.
Among the donors is Laurie Gordon, the board’s chair, who has long been a champion for mental well-being and provider training. In 2014, Gordon spearheaded the creation of the Max Gray Fellows program at UCLA, which trains young doctors in the most advanced methods of treating people with mood disorders. She continues to raise funds for the training and mentorship of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists for the treatment of mood disorders, especially for those in adolescence and young adulthood, when the risk for suicide, depression, psychosis and eating disorders is greatest.
“The board wanted to show our commitment to our community — and to the institution for which we volunteer our time,” Gordon said. “We agreed that the best message we could send was through a chair that supports new clinicians during the most difficult part of their career, when they transition from a decade of training to research and clinical care.”
The board organizes a range of activities and events to engage families in candid conversation about mental illness, which the members believe will reduce the stigmas of these disorders. The board’s work includes the WOW Summit, which the board produces and financially supports. The 2023 summit will be moderated by Oprah Winfrey and will feature speakers discussing how everyday habits — around diet, sleep and relationships — can improve emotional well-being.
“Endowed chairs are important for the burgeoning careers of young faculty who are establishing a clinical practice and research portfolio,” said Dr. Steve Dubinett, interim dean of the Geffen School of Medicine. “The endowed chair will provide ongoing resources for Dr. Gillis and serve as a springboard for her investigations into the pathology of mental health conditions and eventual interventions and therapies. I extend my sincere appreciation to the board of advisors for their vision and generosity.”