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In the Spotlight

Christopher M. Ryan, PhD has dedicated his academic career not only to exploring the effects of various medical disorders and medical therapies on cognitive functioning in both children and adults, but also to promoting patient safety and ethical practices in scientific research.  A Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, Health and Community Systems (Nursing), and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Ryan is not only an accomplished scientist, but a highly engaged teacher and mentor to mental health practitioners and researchers in various stages of their careers, and has given generously of his time as a leader and/or member of various committees and task forces at the University of Pittsburgh and for federal agencies and professional societies.

After earning his doctorate degree in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Ryan obtained extensive postdoctoral training through fellowships at the VA Medicine Center in Boston (sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), and the Department of Neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine (sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism).  He held academic appointments at the University of California, Holy Names College in California, and Regis College in Colorado prior to his appointment to the Department of Psychiatry faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in 1979. 

Dr. Ryan has earned a well-deserved reputation internationally for his research on neuropsychological functioning in medical patients.  He led the first study of diabetic patients to delineate changes in cognitive functioning from late childhood into middle-adulthood, and was a pioneer in research linking changes in brain functioning to diabetes-related biomedical variables.  In addition to serving as the Principal Investigator for eight federally-sponsored projects, Dr. Ryan has also collaborated as a Co-Investigator for numerous other externally sponsored projects at the University of Pittsburgh and other institutions, and has written or co-authored over 124 peer-reviewed articles in such prestigious publications as the Archives of General Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Journal of Pediatrics, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet and  diabetes-related journals including Diabetes, Diabetes Care, and Diabetologia.   He has also contributed to more than 150 book chapters, reviews, editorials, presentations, and other publications.   He has serves as a member of the Editorial Board of Diabetes Care and Pediatric Diabetes, is the Associate Editor of Diabetic Hypoglycemia, and is a regular reviewer for more than 30 medical and scientific journals. 

Dr. Ryan spends much time mentoring students and junior faculty, and has served as a member of more than 20 dissertation committees. His advice to young investigators is to keep an open mind, and let the data speak.  He notes that in his own work, his original hypotheses often did not turn out the way that he had expected and that closer analyses of the data yielded some surprising and interesting results.  Dr. Ryan also advises investigators at all stages of their careers to interact directly with research subjects (and their Institutional Review Board) and maintain that hands-on experience, at least for a period of time, as it not only adds to their experience working with participants, but yields practical, valuable data as well.

In addition to his extensive scientific investigations, Dr. Ryan has served as the Director of the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board since 2002 and is certified by the Council for Certification of IRB Professionals.  He also has shared his scientific expertise and advocated for patient safety and the ethical conduct of research through is participation on several national committees and agencies. These positions serving as a member of numerous National Institutes of Health Ethics of Health Research review panels, federal study sections, and consulting to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation, and other organizations in the United States and abroad.

Throughout his career, Dr. Ryan has taught numerous classes, seminars, and workshops on a wide range of topics, and has presented his research findings at conferences and meetings sponsored by a host of professional organizations, government agencies, and medical societies.  He continues to demonstrate his passion for training the next generation of mental health practitioners and scientists through is service on several thesis and dissertation committees, and his thoughtful mentorship of young investigators. 

We look forward to Dr. Ryan’s future contributions to the field of psychiatry and scientific research, and are honored to have him as a member of the faculty.