Albert J. Silverman Research Conference

34th Annual Albert J. Silverman Conference
May 22, 2024
Rachel Upjohn Building

Albert J. Silverman, M.D., C.M., 1925-2002

About Dr. Silverman

Albert Jack Silverman, M.D., C.M., was a noted psychiatrist, neuroscience researcher and former chair of two university psychiatry departments. In 1970, he became chair of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School. He is credited with redirecting the department's research, education and treatment programs, and leading during a time of great change. During his career, Dr. Silverman sought to bridge the divide between the rising field of neuroscience-based psychiatry and traditional psychoanalysis. After he stepped down from the chair in 1981, he remained on faculty and continued his research and the teaching of psychiatry residents. He retired as professor emeritus in 1990 and continued teaching and conducting rounds until 1997.

Born in Montreal on January 27, 1925, Dr. Silverman earned his bachelor's of science and medical degrees at McGill University. It was at McGill that he discovered his interest in the physical underpinnings of psychological phenomena - a field called psycho-physiology. After a residency in psychiatry at the University of Colorado Medical Center, he followed his mentor Ewald W. Busse to Duke University, where he became a member of the faculty.

He was naturalized as an American citizen in June 1955, took a leave from Duke, and entered the Air Force that year. During his two and one-half years of service at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, he completed his board examinations in both neurology and psychiatry.  Dr. Silverman led research for the U.S. Air Force on space neuroscience and psychology, which rose from obscurity to prominence literally overnight in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik and the dawn of the space race. In addition to performing key research on physical and psychological responses to G-force acceleration and space travel as chief of the stress and fatigue section of the Aero Medical Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, he helped invent a device that used pilots' brain waves as an oxygen-deprivation warning system.

In a 1991 oral history interview, Silverman recalled his Air Force experience: "This was right at the beginning of space exploration. Just prior to the Russians' putting up Sputnik, we were doing G-tolerance studies with the human centrifuge. We weren't allowed to call them moon trajectories or anything like that, because the senators were very negative about 'all of this space nonsense.' But in under 24 hours of Sputnik's going up, we got these hurry-up telegrams from headquarters saying, 'What are we doing in space [research]?' So we dusted off all the old technical reports we had been doing anyway, but under non-space names such as 'acceleration in unusual environments.' That kind of vague name now became, 'G-forces necessary for a moon trip,' which now became very kosher."  Silverman left the service as a captain in 1957. He returned to Duke, heading the psycho-physiology lab and then the behavior studies lab. In all, his research during this period of his career led to more than 100 publications and presentations.

In 1963, Dr. Silverman went to Rutgers University where he and three other faculty members worked to establish a new medical school. This entailed architectural planning and supervision, and hiring the chairs of all departments of the medical school. He became chair of the first psychiatry department at Rutgers where he hired the faculty and worked for seven years. The school later became part of the New Jersey Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He also studied psychoanalysis at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, graduating in May 1964.

This annual series of research conferences is held in the department of psychiatry in Dr. Silverman’s honor. Mrs. Halina Silverman’s very generous endowment gift ensures that the Albert J. Silverman Research Conference will continue in perpetuity as a lasting tribute and legacy for her late husband, an accomplished leader, a fine doctor – devoted to his patients, colleagues and trainees – and a wonderful husband, father and grandfather.

Past Lectures


Innovations in Suicide Prevention Science: A Focus on Vulnerable Populations

Lindsay A Bornheimer, Ph.D., LCS
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry and UM School of Social Work
"Adapting a Cognitive Behavioral Suicide Prevention Treatment for Adults with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders in Community Mental Health"

Courtney L. Bagge, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Research Investigator, Center for Clinical Management Research,
Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System
"The 24 Hours Prior to a Suicide Attempt"

Mark Ilgen, Ph.D.
Professor, Director, University of Michigan Addiction Treatment Services
Associate Director for Adult Research, U-M Addiction Center
Research Career Scientist, Center for Clinical Management Research, Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System
"Intervening to Reduce Acute Suicide Risk"

Faculty host
Gregory Dalack, M.D.
Daniel E. Offutt, III Professor and Chair


Telehealth in Psychiatry

John C. Fortney, Ph.D.
Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Director, Division of Population Health
University of Washington
"A Population Health Perspective on Telepsychiatry/Telepsychology"

Allison Lin, M.D., M.S.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
"Using Telehealth to Increase Access and Improve Addiction Care: COVID-19 and Beyond"

Anne Fernandez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
"Developing and Leveraging Virtual Tools to Identify and Intervene in Risky Alcohol and Drug Use"

Faculty host:
Gregory Dalack, M.D.
Daniel E. Offutt, III Professor and Chair


"Research Updates in Psychiatry"

Erin Bonar, Ph.D., Associate Professor
"Snapchat, Facebook and Video Chat Delivery of Substance Use Interventions"

Gregory Hanna, M.D., Professor 
"Cross-Disorder Genetic Analyses of Major Psychiatric Disorders"

Rebecca Sripada, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
"Adapting Trauma-Focused PTSD Treatment for Brief Treatment Settings"

Brian Hicks, Ph.D., Associate Professor
"Politics Can Be Bad for Your Health: Trumpism and Responses to COVID-19"

Hosting Faculty: Gregory Dalack, MD


"Research Updates in Psychiatry"

Cheryl King, PhD
"Teen Suicide Prevention: A Sustained Research Mission"

Maureen Walton, MPH, PhD
"Substance use among Adolescents and Emerging Adults: Harnessing Smartphones for Research and Intervention"

Kate Fitzgerald, MD, MS
"From Anxiety to Wellness: Facilitating Brain Maturation to Help Kids Overcome Fear"

Jonathan Morrow, MD, PhD
"Individual Differences in Emotional Learning"

Courtney Polenick, PhD
"It Takes Two": How Close Relationships Influence Mental Heath and Well-Being

Hosting Faculty: Gregory Dalack, MD


Aldo Badiani, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology and Addiction Medicine

Director, Sussex Addiction Researchand Intervention Center

School of Psychology

University of Sussex

“Mechanisms for Development of Substance Use Disorders”


William G. Iacono, Ph.D.

The Development of Substance Use and Related Disorders Findings from the Minnesota Center for Twin & Family Research


Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D.

Lost in Thought: The Perils of Rumination


Eva Van Cauter, Ph.D.

Sleep and Sleep Disorders Medicine


William H. Coryell, M.D.

Understanding and Preventing Suicidal Behavior and Suicide


Lorrin M. Koran, M.D.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Kathleen Merikangas, Ph.D. and Nick Craddock, M.D., Ph.D., FRCPsych.

Genetics and Outcomes


Edward Nunes, M.D. and Kirk J. Brower, M.D., FASAM

Comorbidity of Mood Disorders and Substance Use Disorders


David Spiegel, M.D. and Mark Chesler, Ph.D.

Advances in Psychosomatic Medicine


Gabrielle Carlson, M.D. and Melvin McInnis, M.D.

Bipolar Disorder: Genetic Advances, Early Detection and Treatment


Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H. and Kurt Kroenke, M.D.


Robert Drake, MD, Ph.D. and Lisa Dixon, M.D., Ph.D.

The Integration of Mental and Physical Health Care


Ronald Duman, Ph.D.

Brain Development, Stress, Depression, and Plasticity: Treatment Implications


Carol A. Tamminga, M.D.

Tracking Pathophysiology in Schizophrenia


Alan F. Schatzberg M.D.


Cindy L. Ehlers, M.D.


David Goldman, M.D.


Marsel Mesulam, M.D. and Ned Kalin, M.D.


Cynthia R. Pfeffer, M.D.


Larry J Siever, M.D.


Jay Pettegrew, M.D.


Lawrence L. Weed, M.D.


Lenore Terr, M.D.


Bernard J. Carroll, M.D., Ph.D.