Dear Friends of the NYU Child Study Center,
This is an extraordinary time for the NYU Child Study Center (CSC) and for the field of child and adolescent psychiatry. The CSC has achieved a remarkable record of accomplishment and impact since its founding in 1997. In my position as director and as the Arnold Simon Professor and Chair, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, I am incredibly excited by what the future may bring. We are at a very unusual point in time; the biomedical sciences are poised to explode into an unprecedented era of discovery and innovation, unimaginable only 10 years ago. Our faculty's expertise and the innovative programs we've developed provide us with a tremendous vantage point to catalyze the field - as we dare to imagine what is possible.
The stakes are very high. Mental illness can have devastating effects on children's development and functioning over the course of their lives. The causes of mental illness are complex. To be able to provide meaningful and effective intervention requires a robust understanding of how specific biological predispositions can set forth a life course of cascading risk, and ultimately how specific environments may serve to diminish or intensify this risk. There are no easy answers here. In my own field of childhood traumatic stress, for example, it is very clear that exposure to extreme environments in childhood may sculpt the development of the brain, setting up a child for lifelong difficulties with learning, relationships, emotion, behavior, and even physical health. There is so much riding on our ability to achieve meaningful results. The work is extremely important. It is also deeply moral. It is about what it takes to help children get the futures they deserve. This work is also critically important for society, as there is an immeasurable human, social and economic cost related to how mental illness can rob an individual of his or her ability to contribute to our world.
The leading edge of innovation is unmet human need. Accordingly, the center of our program is its amazing clinical sites - including our Faculty Group Practice in Manhattan and satellite clinical campuses in New Jersey and on Long Island, Bellevue Hospital, and Rockland Children's Psychiatric Center. These sites are laboratories for clinical innovation, meaning that ideas for how to best help children and families start with those children and families themselves. Those ideas may then be transformed by our scientific expertise into services that have the potential to dramatically alter the field of child and adolescent psychiatry, thereby transforming the futures of a great many children and families in need.
Our children call out to us, and we must use every tool at our disposal to answer this call. At the NYU Child Study Center, we are blessed with an incredible set of tools found in the astonishing imagination and world-class expertise of the people who work here. We pledge to use every means available to provide a lasting and meaningful impact on the tragic problem of childhood mental illness. We join an emerging national scientific consensus that the progress of biomedical science, including child psychiatry, is moving too slowly and is driven by an existing scientific culture that is too risk-averse to fully leverage the opportunities that now lie before us. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)'s strategic plans have highlighted this problem and have strongly emphasized the importance of generating big ideas and taking big scientific risks if biomedical science is to deliver on its considerable promise. That's where we come in!
As we turn to a new chapter in the great history of the NYU Child Study Center and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, we provide a renewed dedication to innovation, science and impact. The needs are great and the challenges considerable - but the time is right and the place is perfect. Accordingly, the CSC has embraced a mission we call Dare to Imagine to describe our approach to achieving results that will matter most to the children and families whose lives depend on our work. When the depth, breadth and diversity of expertise of our staff and faculty is combined with the richness of our clinical programs and the scientific resources of the NYU School of Medicine - and the work is fueled by a spirit of risk and innovation captured by our Dare to Imagine mission - I believe anything is possible.
Whether you are a parent, an educator, a practitioner, a public policy maker, or anyone concerned with the health of kids, I ask you to join us as we dare to imagine a better future for children and families, everywhere.
Glenn Saxe, M.D.