Ronald E. Dahl, MD, was officially installed as the Staunton Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Nov.30.
The Staunton Professorship was endowed by the Staunton Farm Foundation to mark the 50th anniversary of the foundation in 1987. This endowed chair sits between the departments of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with the goal of helping to promote collaborative advances in behavioral and emotional health in youth.
At the installation ceremony, Dr. Dahl presented his inaugural lecture, Adolescent Brain Development: An Interface of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Psychology and Neuroscience.
Dr. Dahl was introduced to psychiatry research while attending medical school at the University of Pittsburgh, and during his psychiatric residency at Duke University, he developed a further interest in pediatric behavioral and emotional disorders, including a particular focus on sleep disorders. These themes remain central to his present research focus on the emotional and motivational changes that emerge in adolescence, and their relevance to the significant behavioral and emotional health problems that emerge during this period of development.
“I can think of no one more deserving than Ron Dahl to receive this endowed chair,” said Arthur S. Levine, MD, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “His work to increase our understanding of the emotional health and development of adolescents supports the work of the Staunton Farm Foundation, which for more than 65 years has been supporting mental health treatment in the communities of Southwestern Pennsylvania.”
“We are most pleased that Ron Dahl is the occupant of this important endowed chair which provides major opportunities for the conduct of interdisciplinary research in psychiatry, pediatrics, mental health and development,” said David J. Kupfer, M.D., Thomas Detre Professor and chair, department of psychiatry.
“Adolescence is a period of great vulnerability,” said Dr. Dahl. “It is a time of risk for problems such as depression, alcohol, nicotine and drug use and dependence, and a great deal of risk-taking and reckless behavior; yet it also is a period of opportunity for developing healthy goals and patterns of behavior. Current advances in neurobehavioral research are beginning to shed light on several aspects of these complex problems and are an exciting area of future research.”
Dr. Dahl received his undergraduate degrees from Penn State University and his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh. From 1984 to 1987 he completed a pediatric residency at Duke University, then from 1987 to 1988 received training in sleep medicine at the University of Pittsburgh’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.
Dr. Dahl has served as a core member of several prominent transdisciplinary research groups including the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Psychopathology and Development, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research Network on the Etiology of Tobacco Dependence and the WT Grant Consortium on the Developmental Psychobiology of Stress.
He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the Society for Research in Child Development and the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology.
Dr. Dahl has published extensively on adolescent development, pediatric sleep disorders, and behavioral/emotional health in children.