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Department of Psychiatry Celebrates 50th Anniversary with New Endowed Chair

Former department chair Igor Grant, and his wife, JoAnn, donated funds for the chair

Igor Grant and JoAnn Grant

When a young Igor Grant, M.D., and his wife, JoAnn, a nurse, first moved to La Jolla in 1972, the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego was newly established with just 20 faculty members. The couple was looking for a place where they could make a positive impact in the area of psychiatry, while at the same time starting a family. The department’s fresh, innovative spirit resonated with them, prompting Igor Grant to take a position with the department. JoAnn also worked for many years as a research nurse in the department.

Today, as the Department of Psychiatry celebrates its 50th Anniversary, the department is ranked No.3 in the nation for NIH research funding and has grown to more than 200 faculty members. Dr. Grant served as the third chair of the Department of Psychiatry, from 2014 until April 1, 2019, when he completed his five-year term. Dr. Grant will continue as distinguished professor and head of several large research programs on HIV and medicinal cannabis.

In honor of the department’s milestone anniversary, the Grants have established the Dr. Igor and JoAnn Grant Chair in Psychiatry, with additional funds to be raised and a match from the UC San Diego Chancellor’s Chair and Faculty Fellowship Challenge. The endowed administrative chair will be held by future chairs of the Department of Psychiatry, who will succeed Dr. Grant. Endowed chairs play an important role in recruiting and retaining top physician-scientists. The administrative endowed chair will allow for the chair holder to utilize the annual funding for the greatest needs of the department. The Grants’ gift contributes to the $2 billion goal of the university’s comprehensive fundraising effort, the Campaign for UC San Diego.

“We are very grateful to Igor and JoAnn Grant for their visionary support of the Department of Psychiatry,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Over a span of several decades, Dr. Grant has played a key role in building the Department of Psychiatry to become the world-renowned research center it is today, with broad impact in mental health.”

The Department of Psychiatry’s research scope is wide ranging, from basic studies on the genetics and molecular mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders, to clinical research on best practices in treatment, including novel pharmacological and psychotherapeutics, as well as innovative applications of telemedicine and mental health focused technology to broaden the reach of mental health interventions.

“It has been a privilege to be a part of the growth of UC San Diego’s Department of Psychiatry as it has come to be recognized as one of the best psychiatry programs in the nation, and internationally,” said Dr. Grant. “We have established this chair with the goal of recruiting future chairs of the department who are not only distinguished scholars, but who are also strong academic leaders who will continue assuring that UC San Diego is at the forefront of combatting mental illness through discovery, educating future generations of scientists and clinicians, and delivering best treatments.”