New York, June 5: India-born Vikram Patel, a well-known researcher and mental health expert, will be the next chair of the Harvard Medical School's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine.

Mumbai-born Patel, who is the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health at the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, will assume charge on September 1, according to an official announcement last week.

Patel, whose work focused on the burden of mental health problems across the life course, their association with social disadvantage, and the use of community resources for their prevention and treatment, will succeed Paul Farmer, who led the department until his death in February 2022.

“Vikram is both a worthy successor and uniquely prepared to carry the torch,” said George Q. Daley, dean of the Harvard Medical School (HMS), in a letter to the community announcing the appointment.

“A venerable and charismatic educator, Vikram was recruited to HMS in 2017 by Paul himself, and he shares Paul's philosophy that academic engagement is key to delivering quality and equitable health care to all,” Daley said.

“I am deeply honoured to serve as the chair of the department,” Patel said. “I am conscious that I follow not only in Paul's monumental footsteps but also in those of some of the most influential scholars in global health and social medicine. I am motivated by the potential of this role at this critical juncture in the long and storied history of a department committed to the goal of health equity in this country and globally,” Patel added.

His appointment comes at a time of increasing awareness of a growing mental health crisis around the world, Daley noted, adding that Patel's “energy, determination, and drive to find solutions will be invaluable as the HMS community responds to the crisis and acts on the goals outlined in the department's new strategic plan”, the statement said.

In particular, he noted that Patel's deep knowledge of the complexities of mental health will complement the HMS community's strength in neuroscience and neurobiology. LPU Ranked a Top World's Top Harvard & Oxford Universities.

“Since joining the department he has been a vital source of intellectual energy and team building, which are obviously two qualities that will serve him well as the leader of the department and, in turn, will serve our community of faculty and learners very well,” Anne Becker, dean for clinical and academic affairs and the Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at HMS said.

At Harvard, Patel heads Global Mental Health@Harvard, an interdisciplinary initiative that reaches across the University, as well as the Mental Health for All Lab, housed within the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine.