Leo Sher, MD, named to a World Psychiatric Association Scientific Section

In his new role, Dr. Sher will participate in multiple academic activities of the World Psychiatric Association.

New York, NY
 – March 8, 2012 /Press Release/  –– 

Leo Sher, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Co-Director of Inpatient Psychiatry at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center has become an Executive Member of the newly created World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Section on Dual Disorders/Pathology. The WPA Section on Dual Disorders/Pathology consists of leading world experts in the field of dual pathology from Spain, Canada, USA, Argentina, UK, France, Austria, and other countries. The goals of the newly created section include raising awareness about clinical treatment and research needs of patients with dual disorders, facilitating communication between psychiatrists and developing new training and research programs in the field of dual disorders. In his new role, Dr. Sher will participate in multiple academic activities of the World Psychiatric Association including the development of new treatment and research programs. The WPA has more than 60 scientific sections, aimed to disseminate information and promote collaborative work in specific domains of psychiatry.

The term dual diagnosis is a common, broad term that indicates the simultaneous presence of two independent medical disorders. Recently, within the fields of psychiatry and addiction medicine, the term has been usually used to describe the coexistence of a psychiatric disorder and substance use problems. Substance use disorders are complex brain illnesses characterized by compulsive drug craving, seeking, and use despite very harmful consequences. Substance-induced changes in brain structure and function occur in some of the same brain areas that are disrupted in other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, or psychoses and in fact are frequently comorbid with these psychiatric disorders. Therefore, psychiatric disorders are established risk factors for subsequent drug abuse, and vice versa.

A common example of a dual disorder includes the combination of major depression with alcohol use disorders; a comorbidity that was extensively studied by Dr. Sher. This particular dual disorder was discussed in many of his publications including original research reports:

  • “Lower CSF homovanillic acid levels in depressed patients with a history of alcoholism” (Neuropsychopharmacology, 2003)
  • “The relationship of aggression to suicidal behavior in depressed patients with a history of alcoholism” (Addictive Behaviors, 2005)
  • “Positron emission tomography study of regional brain metabolic responses to a serotonergic challenge in major depressive disorder with and without comorbid lifetime alcohol dependence (European Neuropsychopharmacology, 2007)
  • “Depressed patients with co-occurring alcohol use disorders: a unique patient population” (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2008)

Six of 14 edited books published by Dr. Sher were dedicated to substance use disorders and dual pathology:

  • “Adolescence and Alcohol: An International Perspective” (2006)
  • “Alcohol and Suicide: Research and Clinical Perspectives” (2007)
  • “Research on the Neurobiology of Alcohol Use Disorders” (2008)
  • “Comorbidity of Depression and Alcohol Use Disorders” (2009)
  • “Alcohol-Related Cognitive Disorders: Research and Clinical Perspectives” (2009)
  • “Suicidal Behavior in Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Dependence” (2010)

The WPA is an association of national psychiatric societies aimed to increase knowledge and skills necessary for work in the field of psychiatry and the care for the mentally ill. WPA presently consists of 135 member societies from 117 different countries and represents more than 200,000 psychiatrists. The WPA organizes the World Congress of Psychiatry every three years. It also organizes international and regional congresses and meetings, and thematic conferences.