February 08, 2017

Masoud Kamali, MD: Psychiatrist, clinical researcher, soccer player

Masoud Kamali, MD
What do you do at UMHS?

I am a psychiatrist, clinical researcher and educator. My main interest is to better understand and treat mood disorders, primarily bipolar disorder. I conduct treatment trials and other clinical studies of depression and bipolar disorder. The focus of my research is on impulsivity and suicidal behavior. Our group is examining the electrophysiology of impulsive behavior and we study how personality, temperament and clinical features of illness affect long-term outcomes and suicide risk. I also supervise and teach third-year psychiatry residents during their transition from mostly hospital-based care to outpatient rotations.

Why is this interesting to you?

Bipolar disorder and depression are major sources of disability worldwide. Depression is also one of the leading causes of suicide. Despite the high prevalence and morbidity, our knowledge about the etiology and course of these disorders is limited. I hope my research can help reduce suicide rates and lead to better outcomes by improving the diagnosis and treatment of major mood disorders.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

My two young children keep me fully occupied. I enjoy helping with homework, coaching Science Olympiad and driving them to and from activities like soccer and Academic Games. I have, however, somehow continued to play soccer regularly myself — and even score a few goals!

What moment in the lab or clinic stands out as most memorable?

Psychiatric disorders are mostly chronic conditions. The healing process can be daunting to patients and families and takes time. One of the most rewarding moments is when you realize as a clinician that they have turned the corner and are on the path to recovery, sometimes even before the patients recognize it themselves.

What is something your colleagues don’t know about you?

I enjoy dancing a fast Argentine tango, vals or milonga with my longtime dance partner and wife, Liz.

What was the last book you read?

I recently finished reading The Shah by Abbas Milani. This biography of the last king of Iran, who was deposed by the 1979 revolution, provides an incredibly well researched and wonderfully written political history of my homeland in the late 20th century.

What’s your favorite spot in Ann Arbor?

The Nichols Arboretum is a gem — hikes down to the river, the peonies in spring, and Shakespeare in the Arb in the summer. What more can you ask for?

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

An archeologist exploring ancient ruins and discovering artifacts that illuminate the past. Although I took a different route in life, I can see similarities with what I do as a psychiatrist and clinical researcher.