John H. Krystal, MD
Robert L. McNeil Jr. Professor of Psychiatry
Chair, Department of Psychiatry
Chief of Psychiatry
Yale New Haven Hospital
Undergraduate: University of Chicago (1980)
Medical School: Yale School of Medicine (1984)
Residency (psychiatry): Yale New Haven Hospital (1988)
What attracted you to Yale New Haven back in 1980?
It was one of the first places that were interested in what is now called translational neuroscience. The view that you could use basic neuroscience and genetics to guide the future of psychiatry was unique at Yale at that time, and it is still a distinctive feature of the vision of our psychiatry department. The continued commitment to that vision kept me here for residency training and has kept me at Yale ever since. When I arrived at Yale in 1980, driving a rented car loaded with all of my possessions, never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate I would end up as the chair of the department. My dream at that time was just that I would get a shot at playing on the team.
What is it about the Yale New Haven culture that fosters leadership, as demonstrated by the psychiatry faculty members who have left to head up departments elsewhere?
At Yale we cultivate a culture of vivid academic discourse. People are challenged to not accept the status quo, to develop innovative programs and to put those programs to the test. We try, in all of our missions, to push people to think about their careers as more than simply jobs, but as opportunities to have an impact on the lives of our patients and trainees and to transform our field.