Our History, Our Present, & Our Future


WPH in 1950 and in 2021

  • 1787: The University of Pittsburgh, originally named the Pittsburgh Academy, is founded.

  • 1886: The Western Pennsylvania Medical College is formed by local physicians, then acquired by the University of Pittsburgh just over 20 years later. 

  • 1942: Western State Psychiatric Hospital is established with a capacity of 200 beds, an outpatient clinic, a research center, and training programs for medical and nursing students.

  • 1945-46: The newly renamed Western State Psychiatric Institute and Clinic begins a residency program in psychiatry and establishes a Department of Research.

    Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 1955
         Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 1955
  • 1949: Pennsylvania transfers the management of the Western State Psychiatric Institute and Clinic to the University of Pittsburgh. It is again renamed, becoming the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC)

  • 1973: Thomas Detre, MD, is recruited from Yale University to lead the Department and WPIC. From Yale, Dr. Detre brings colleagues including David Kupfer, MD

  • 1983: Dr. Kupfer is named Chair, Department of Psychiatry, as Dr. Detre is appointed Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences. Dr. Kupfer promotes collaborations between clinical investigators in psychiatry and those in neuroscience and other basic sciences. WPIC becomes one of the nation’s largest university-based clinical, educational, and research facilities.

  • 1987: David Lewis, MD, joins the Department as Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and serves as Director of Basic Research for the Department. 

  • 2000: Dr. Lewis establishes the Translational Neuroscience Program (TNP), focused on understanding the neurobiological basis for human cognitive and emotional functions and how alterations in the brain give rise to the disturbances in these functions that characterize psychiatric disorders.

  • 2009: Dr. Lewis is appointed Chair, Department of Psychiatry, and Medical Director & Director of Research, WPIC. 

    David Lewis, MD
          David Lewis, MD

As Chair, Dr. Lewis has focused on growing a diverse faculty composed of individuals committed to innovative and creative approaches to scientific research and clinical care. 

Central to this effort is a focus on hiring talented early-career investigators and clinician-educators

Since 2009, many new initiatives have been developed to enhance the Department’s mission. Central to this effort is strengthening the career development pathway with programs and initiatives tailored to the specific needs of both clinician-educators and investigators. 

Residents & Medical Students

Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality

Early-Career Clinician-Educator Faculty Members


  • WPIC is renamed UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital2012: The Department holds its first annual Clinician-Educator Showcase, which highlights clinical and educational innovations as well as quality improvement programs. 

  • 2017: The Clinical Value Project (CVP) Program funds one-year projects designed to increase the quality of patient care, patient engagement and satisfaction, clinical outcomes, access to services, and clinician efficiency and satisfaction.  

Research Investigators

  • 2011-2012: The substantially revised “K Concept Review” supports investigators during the development of National Institutes of Health (NIH) K award grant proposals.  Research Day

  • 2017: The Department institutes the First Independent Research Support & Transition (FIRST) Process, helping early-career faculty submit competitive R-series award applications.  

  • 2019: The Department hosts the inaugural Research Resources Revue, enabling Psychiatry faculty and postdoctoral scholars to learn about resources available to help them develop their own research activities.