by Julie Cleveland
Dr. Murray Raskind came to the University of Washington (UW) in 1970 to do his psychiatry residency, and has never left. Thirty-five years later, he is the director for the Alzheimerís Disease Research Center (ADRC), executive director of Mental Heath Services at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System (VAPSHCS), and professor and vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UW.
Dr. Raskind received his medical degree at Columbia University, and completed his first residency in internal medicine at the Columbia Harlem Hospital Center. When asked how he got interested in working with older adults, he replied, "The psychiatric and other problems affecting older people were natural areas for my dual interests in internal medicine and psychiatry. Geriatric psychiatry is a nice blend of the two fields." In addition, as Dr. Raskind was finishing his psychiatry residency, a new chairman came to the department of psychiatry Ė Dr. Carl Eisdorfer, and his field was gerontology. Says Raskind, "I think he was instrumental in steering me toward an academic geriatric psychiatry track."
Raskind has been with the ADRC since its inception in 1985. As the director, he has a great variety of responsibilities, all aimed toward assuring that the resources and intellectual environment are supportive to the investigators in the center, and that ADRC research volunteers receive outstanding support and treatment. In addition, he devotes a portion of his time to his research on dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and teaching continuing medical education courses. He also sees patients and says, "I still very much enjoy being a physician and helping patients and their families do better with their problems."
Raskind states, "My responsibilities with the VAPSHCS have been crucial in the success of the ADRC. We have a strong partnership with the V.A., and they have provided us with necessary laboratory and clinical space, as well as faculty salary support. As part of my administrative responsibilities as the V.A. Director of Mental Health, I focus on older veterans with Alzheimerís disease and other dementias, as well as developing new treatments for veteransí war-related problems, particularly PTSD, that can affect them long after their military service has ended."
Surprisingly, Raskind does manage to get out of the office, and enjoys spending time with his wife, three children, and two grandchildren. He and his family ski and play tennis together. He likes to spend time in the garden and going for walks. He is also the group co-leader for an African American veterans support group, an activity that he finds very fulfilling.
"I think what Iím most proud of this past year," remarks Raskind, "is that we competed for another five-year renewal for our ADRC, and of the 30 centers around the country who were competing for renewal, we ranked number one. Part of being a director is getting everyone to work comfortably and productively together. The success of the ADRC has been truly a group accomplishment. Thatís a major source of satisfaction."