James Berry, D.O., has been named to lead the WVU School of Medicine’s Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry as the permanent chair, effective May 1, 2020. Berry has served as interim chair for the department since February 2019.
“My goal for the department is relatively simple,” Dr. Berry said. “I hope to improve lives by improving behavioral health. The Department is a vehicle by which we can help people be healthier and live more satisfying lives.”
Dr. Berry, an associate professor, is also the director of Addiction Services. He joined the department as a resident physician in 2002 and has been a leader in battling the opioid epidemic that has unfolded in Appalachia.
“Dr. Berry is an outstanding clinician and educator. He has played an important role in developing innovative programs for addiction treatment in West Virginia and nationally,” Ali Rezai, M.D., executive chair of the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, said. “We are looking forward to Dr. Berry’s leadership to advance our Behavioral Medicine program across the region.
From the early days of the opioid crisis, Berry and his colleagues developed innovative treatment models that have become nationally recognized and replicated. In addition to ongoing clinical service, he is actively engaged in novel neuromodulation research related to substance use disorders through the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, such as the first deep brain stimulation trial for opioid use disorder in North America.
“As West Virginians, we have a unique set of challenges in that not only do we disproportionately suffer from deaths of despair such as addiction and suicide, but we live in a rural state that makes accessing lifesaving treatment difficult,” Berry said. “Removing barriers to treatment is a priority, and I envision us continuing to build on our expertise in rural behavioral health care delivery.”
Berry is board certified in both general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry. He received his medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, completed a residency in general psychiatry at West Virginia University and a fellowship in addiction psychiatry at the University of Hawaii.
“Dr. Berry is a national and world leader in addiction psychiatry and as interim director, has brought the same expert and caring mindset to the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry,” Clay Marsh, M.D., vice president and executive dean for Health Sciences, said. “His commitment to building team and community in the Department and for addressing the traumas suffered by so many in our state and beyond enables Jim to be the leader we need for WVU Medicine and for West Virginia.”
Statewide, he serves as a member of the West Virginia Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Use Disorders. Nationally, he serves on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s Addiction Psychiatry Examination Committee and the American Board of Medical Specialties, Safety in Opioid Prescribing Committee.
In addition, he is a member of the Academy for Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care’s National Integrational Academy Council, the Addiction Policy Forum’s Scientific Advisory Board and a trustee of the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine. He is a recipient of the Addiction Policy Forum’s Innovation Now Award and WVU School of Medicine Distinguished Teacher Award.
In 2019, he testified before the United States Senate on the nature of addiction and how to combat the epidemic. Dr. Berry’s work and opinions have led to interviews with local, state and national media sources such as Politico, NPR, the Huffington Post and The Doctors television show. He and his patients were featured in the PBS NOVA documentary: Addiction that exposed a national audience to the science behind addiction and the humanity of those who suffer.
For more information on the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, visit medicine.hsc.wvu.edu/bmed.
For more information on the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, visit wvumedicine.org/rni.