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American Psychiatric Association Taps UH College of Medicine Professor for Prestigious Position

By Bryan Luhn 713-743-0954

Dr. Stephen Starks begins term as APA Assembly Speaker

Dr. Steven Starks, a geriatric psychiatrist and clinical assistant professor at the University of Houston’s Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine, has been appointed speaker of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Assembly of District Branches.

Starks began his one-year term at the close of the organization’s recent annual meeting in New York City.

“I am sincerely honored by the opportunity to represent the APA Assembly as speaker,” Starks said. “As the voice of our district branches and state associations, special interest committees, subspecialty societies and sections, the Assembly is a crucial tool in the pursuit of equitable access to mental health care in the U.S. I look forward to developing camaraderie between members and raising awareness of the Assembly’s important mission. I am deeply grateful to my peers for this privilege, and I anticipate a fruitful year ahead.”

Starks, a UH alumnus who joined the Fertitta Family College of Medicine in 2019 as a member of its founding faculty, is a passionate advocate for increasing mental health services, particularly within minority groups. His research primarily focuses on the cultural and social effects of mental health conditions on patients and families.

“In my role as a learning community mentor to our students, I always urge them to join medical societies as they are tremendous vehicles for professional development,” Starks said. “While our curriculum equips students with the knowledge and skills of medical practice, medical specialty societies provide insights into local and national advocacy efforts and their unique professional identities. That’s the key to transformative leadership.”

Starks was a Pozen-Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Health Equity Leadership while pursuing his MBA at Yale University and was a Health and Aging Policy Fellow and American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow who served in the Office of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives where he contributed to the design, drafting and rollout of the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act.

"I congratulate Dr. Starks on his speakership with the APA Assembly,” said Dr. Stephen Spann, founding dean of the Fertitta Family College of Medicine. “His leadership embodies a commitment to not only improving mental health treatments but raising awareness and expanding access to care in places where it’s needed most.”

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