Pies Appointed Science Content Editor

January 1, 2006

As the new science content editor of Psychiatric Times, long-time contributor and editorial board member Ronald Pies, M.D., will collaborate with editors to expand the depth, breadth and credibility of the publication.

Longtime Psychiatric Timescolumnist and editorial board member Ronald Pies, M.D., has been named science contenteditor of the publication effective this month.

Described by colleagues as "a pre-eminent scholar of psychopharmacology" and"one of the outstanding medical writers in our profession," Pies is clinical professorof psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and author/co-author ofnumerous clinical journal articles, book chapters and books, including the Handbook of Essential Psychopharmacology,Second Edition (2005), Handbook ofGeriatric Psychopharmacology (2002), TheDifficult-to-Treat Psychiatric Patient (2001), and Clinical Manual of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Treatment: A Biopsychosocial Approach (1994), all available fromAmerican Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., and AConsumer's Guide to Choosing the Right Psychotherapist (1997; JasonAronson).

In the newly created content editor position, Pies will recommend topics andpossible writers for the publication, evaluate submitted articles or proposals,collaborate with the editorial board and editorial staff, and encourage morereader involvement, among other responsibilities.

Pies perceives the role of science content editoras one of expanding the depth, breadth and credibility of the publication.

"To borrow from the testimony of our newest chief justice, I see the sciencecontent editor as serving as a kind of 'referee,'" he said. "The science editorshould not have an ideological 'axe to grind'; rather, he or she should focuson the quality of evidence and the cogency of ideas, in any given piece. Thescience editor may need to step in and call a 'foul' if an article distorts thebest available evidence or reaches a conclusion that clearly does not followfrom the data presented. I also see my job as one of providing scientificcontext for claims that otherwise may arouse controversy. For example, many ofthe claims made with respect to antidepressants and suicide risk fail toprovide the necessary context by which we can understand and make use of thesefindings."

Pies wants to not only continue PsychiatricTimes' tradition of high quality publishing but also to enhance it.

"In the past 20 years, I believe that PThas provided both a 'university in print' for our readers and a forum forvoicing their views on a multitude of controversial issues. The topics we havecovered have spanned the entire spectrum of clinical and research issues inpsychiatry; yet, PT's articles aresuccinct and to the point, which cannot always be said for other psychiatricpublications," he said. "I also believe that PT has taken journalistic risks that have broadened the lives andviews of our psychiatric colleagues. PThas often ventured into areas, such as the relationship of spirituality andcreativity to psychiatry, that are usually neglected by other psychiatricpublications. We have also given voice to younger colleagues and residents inour field, which has kept PT freshand relevant to those just entering psychiatry."

He also praised the publication for its "reader-friendly" style, first-classauthors and columnists, concentration on clinical practice issues rather thanesoteric subjects, and diligent peer review process.

"Psychiatric Times is, to myknowledge, the only psychiatric newspaper in which nearly all major educationalarticles undergo peer review, and in which psychiatrists and otherdoctoral-level clinicians author most of the featured educational pieces," hesaid. "I know from first hand experience that PT's peer review process is far from pro forma; we often haveseveral 'go arounds' with would-be authors before apiece is finally accepted for publication, though this [process] may not bewidely appreciated."

In future issues, Pies expects to see PTcover more conferences and symposia, "with greater breadth of reporting than wehave thus far been able to provide (despite the wonderful coverage of variousmeetings from my friend and mentor, Dr. Frank Ayd)."

He also hopes to see more exploration of controversial areas in the field,such as the unique role, among mental health professionals, filled by psychiatrists;the role of the pharmaceutical industry (both good and not-so-good) in shapingphysicians' perspectives on medication prescribing; the issue of psychiatry and"civil liberties" in the United States and in other countries; and theperpetual issues involving managed care.

Pies brings all of his education and experience tohis new position. He was educated at CornellUniversity and then continued hisstudies at the State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, where hereceived his M.D. degree and completed his residency in psychiatry.

He has been director of psychopharmacology and research at Bay Cove Mental HealthCenter in Massachusetts;staff psychiatrist and director of psychopharmacology at HarrySolomon MentalHealth Centerin Massachusetts;and lecturer on psychiatry at Harvard University School of Medicine, amongother positions.

Devoted readers of Pies' columns, "Psychiatric Medicine" and "ClinicalPuzzles," will be relieved to know that he will periodically contribute columnsand will write occasional editorials.

He credits PT with being thelaunching point for his "second career" as a fiction writer, with giving him avenue for communicating his ideas and theories to colleagues and withchallenging him to stay abreast of changes in the field.

"The first piece I contributed [to PT]in 1985 was a short story--later read with appreciation by novelist Philip Roth--thatultimately made its way into my collection of short stories, Zimmerman's Tefillin[2004; Publish America]," he said. "But more than this, PT has afforded me the opportunity to hear back from countlessreaders, who have pointed out both their areas of agreement and disagreementwith my writing. Some of these exchanges have led to unexpected friendships andcollegial collaboration--if only via e-mail and letters. I have beenconsistently challenged by the responses of our readers, and this has been agreat catalyst for my own professional growth."

In addition to his responsibilities with PsychiatricTimes, Pies plans to continue his work as clinical professor of psychiatryand manuscript reviewer for several psychiatric journals, while pursuing his "secondcareer" as poet, novelist and philosopher. Several of his poems, such as "Spellcheck for a Malformed Fetus," "Congestive HeartFailure," "Return to Brooklyn" and "The Golden Years," have appeared in JAMA, and in 2004, a collection of hispoems, Creeping Thyme, was published(Brandylane Publishers, Inc.). More recently, he haswritten a novella based on the life of Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides), a Medieval physician-philosopher. Pies iscurrently writing a book called EverythingHas Two Handles.