Li named Vice Chair for Education

By Nicholas Roznovsky

Longtime faculty clinician and educator Descartes Li, MD, has been selected to serve as the department’s new vice chair for education, effective October 1, 2019.

Li is a clinical professor of psychiatry specializing in bipolar disorder, electroconvulsive therapy, and medical education. He completed his medical training and psychiatry residency at UCSF, and joined the Department of Psychiatry as a faculty member and attending psychiatrist in 1997. Over the past 22 years, he has served in a variety of clinical and educational leadership roles, and is currently the director of the UCSF Bipolar Disorder Program and the UCSF Electroconvulsive Therapy Service.

In 2015, Li became the department’s director for medical student education, giving him oversight of the psychiatry curriculum for UCSF medical students, including the first-year Brain, Mind and Behavior course and third-year psychiatry clerkships at Parnassus, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, the San Francisco VA Health Care System, UCSF Fresno, and Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. He also manages clinical electives for visiting fourth-year students, dozens of classroom-based and clinical rotation electives for students of all levels, and the multidepartment-sponsored Foundations of Patient Care course.

Li was a member of the foundational sciences work group during the design of the innovative UCSF Bridges Curriculum, which integrates foundational sciences and clinical training at unprecedented levels with a focus on newer physician competencies. Today, his work with the program continues as a coach, providing academic guidance for students and supporting their professional and personal development throughout their medical school curriculum.

He has participated in the UCSF-Coro Leadership Collaborative and the UCSF Teaching Scholars Program, and was inducted into UCSF’s Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators (AME) in 2014. Li was recognized for his work as an educator with the Alexander Simon Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1997 and the AME’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2008.

As the vice chair for education, Li will manage the department’s undergraduate and graduate medical education training programs, pre- and postdoctoral training in clinical psychology, and continuing medical education programs for professionals. He will also supervise nearly 200 volunteer clinical teachers and oversee budgeting and operations for the department’s education office.

“The department is extremely fortunate to have some as dedicated to and passionate about medical education as Descartes in this role,” said Oberndorf Family Distinguished Professor and department chair Matthew W. State, MD, PhD. “He brings a wealth of experience as a clinician, educator, and administrator, and is the perfect person to help lead our efforts to train the next generation of mental health leaders.”

About UCSF Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry, UCSF Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute are among the nation's foremost resources in the fields of child, adolescent, adult, and geriatric mental health. Together they constitute one of the largest departments in the UCSF School of Medicine and the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, with a mission focused on research (basic, translational, clinical), teaching, patient care, and public service.

UCSF Psychiatry conducts its clinical, educational and research efforts at a variety of locations in Northern California, including UCSF campuses at Parnassus Heights, Mission Bay and Laurel Heights, UCSF Medical Center, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, the San Francisco VA Health Care System, and UCSF Fresno.

About the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences

The UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, established by the extraordinary generosity of Joan and Sanford I. "Sandy" Weill, brings together world-class researchers with top-ranked physicians to solve some of the most complex challenges in the human brain.

The UCSF Weill Institute leverages UCSF’s unrivaled bench-to-bedside excellence in the neurosciences. It unites three UCSF departments—Neurology, Psychiatry, and Neurological Surgery—that are highly esteemed for both patient care and research, as well as the Neuroscience Graduate Program, a cross-disciplinary alliance of nearly 100 UCSF faculty members from 15 basic-science departments, as well as the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, a multidisciplinary research center focused on finding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

About UCSF

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise.

It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals – UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland – as well as Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians, and the UCSF Faculty Practice. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. UCSF faculty also provide all physician care at the public Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, and the San Francisco VA Medical Center.