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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Yale: Alumnus Pledges $5 Million for Yale SPH Fund and Professorship to Advance LGBTQ Mental Health

Yale School of Medicine alumnus Dr. David R. Kessler, is directing $5 million from his estate to the Yale School of Public Health, part of which is intended for the creation of a David R. Kessler Endowed Professorship. The professorship and accompanying resource fund will support teaching and research associated with improving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) mental health.

Earlier this year, Dr. Kessler, a psychiatrist who helped launch the country’s first formal gay doctors’ organization — the Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights — gave $200,000 to the Yale School of Public Health to support the work of associate professor Dr. John Pachankis, and his Esteem Research Group. The research team is dedicated to addressing the depression, anxiety and substance use problems that disproportionately affect the LGBTQ community. A clinical psychologist, Dr. Pachankis is internationally known for his development of novel psychosocial interventions to improve LGBTQ individuals’ mental health.

“As a stigmatized minority in society, people who identify as LGBTQ are subject to continuous assaults on their self-esteem and sense of belonging in their families, schools, and workplaces,” said Yale School of Public Health Dean Sten H. Vermund, who has made improving LGBTQ mental health a priority of his administration. “I cannot think of a higher impact program in which Dr. Kessler could invest than Dr. Pachankis’ Esteem Program. Dr. Kessler’s generosity will ensure that LGBTQ mental health research geared toward preventive and therapeutic interventions will be part of YSPH under Dr. Pachankis’ leadership and on in perpetuity.”