University of Utah Health Names CEO of Huntsman Mental Health Institute and New Chair of the Department of Psychiatry

Mark H. Rapaport, M.D., a nationally recognized clinician and researcher known for his interdisciplinary approach to mental health treatment and care, has been named CEO of Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Rapaport will step into a new position designed to advance the integrated missions of clinical services, education, research, and community mental health. He will lead a department of nearly 300 faculty and staff and oversee operations of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, a 170-bed inpatient hospital and a network of 10 outpatient clinics, previously known as University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI).

“After conducting a nationwide search, Dr. Rapaport is the clear choice as our new leader for the department, the university, and the broader community,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., CEO of U of U Health, Dean of the School of Medicine and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. “His experience connecting clinical excellence with high-caliber research while training the next generation of mental health care professionals will play a critical role in launching and building the Huntsman Mental Health Institute into a national model for mental health treatment, research, and education.”

Rapaport recently served as the Reunette W. Harris Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. He also served as Chief of Psychiatric Services for Emory Healthcare Systems. During his tenure, he co-created the Emory Brain Health Center, breaking down silos between psychiatry, neurology, neurosurgery, and neuroscience, allowing a collaborative approach to studying and solving the challenges of brain disorders. While at Emory, he also co-created the Addiction Alliance of Georgia with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, transforming how addiction and recovery services are delivered in Georgia. Before joining Emory University, he was the Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and professor of Psychiatry at both Cedars-Sinai and the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles.

“I am honored to be selected for this position,” Rapaport said. “The University of Utah is a remarkable institution uniquely positioned because of its partnership with the state to catalyze change in the field of psychiatry. Guided by both the extraordinary vision and transformative gift from the Huntsman family, we will build on the foundation that exists and transform how brain disorders are perceived, discussed, cared for, and studied. I look forward to helping create an inclusive mental health institute where we address the challenges of brain and mental health disorders in an innovative yet comprehensive manner.”

In November 2019, the Huntsman family announced a historic gift of $150 million to establish HMHI. Launching in early 2021, HMHI will continue the Department of Psychiatry and UNI’s numerous programs designed to serve psychiatric patients across their lifespan. Under Rapaport’s leadership, the institute will grow to improve mental health access and care in communities across Utah and advance research initiatives, including identifying the genetic underpinnings of mental illness.

“We couldn’t be happier with the appointment of Dr. Rapaport to this critical position,” said David Huntsman, President of the Huntsman Foundation. “We are confident that Dr. Rapaport’s vision will build on the legacy of comprehensive mental health care that the university has provided our community for many years. His experience will help us build a world-class institution and shape how we approach mental health treatment and care in the future so we see more positive outcomes for the people of Utah and beyond.”

Nationally known for his leadership, writing, and research, Rapaport has received several awards and honors for his work. Most recently, he was recognized as a Distinguished Life Fellow from the American Psychiatric Association (APA). He is currently editor-in-chief of Focus: A Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry published by the APA. As an investigator, Rapaport has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for three decades and has over 180 peer-reviewed publications. His research interests include the biologic genesis of anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, and immunity abnormalities in psychotic and mood disorders.

Rapaport graduated cum laude in biology from the University of California, San Diego, where he also earned his medical degree and completed his residency in psychiatry. He looks forward to moving back to the west to be closer to his children and enjoy the mountains.

He succeeds James Ashworth, M.D., who has served as interim chair since June 2019. “We are grateful to Dr. Ashworth for his leadership during this time of transition,” Good said. “He is a seasoned veteran in the Department of Psychiatry, and his accomplishments have built the foundation on which Dr. Rapaport will continue to advance the strong tradition of academic, research, and clinical excellence.”

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