McDaniel Named to New Dr. Laurie Sands Professorship

May. 3, 2009

Susan H. McDaniel, Ph.D., an internationally known expert on the integration of mental health care and clinical medicine, will be formally installed Thursday, May 7, as the first Dr. Laurie Sands Distinguished Professor of Families and Health at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

McDaniel, who joined the faculty in 1980, is director of the Institute for the Family in the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical Center and associate chair of the Department of Family Medicine. Laurie Anne Sands, M.D., an alumna of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and a native of Canandaigua, N.Y., practiced Internal Medicine in Rochester from 1979 until her death in 1995.

The professorship was endowed by a gift of $2 million from the Sands Family Foundation. Dr. Sands was the sister of Richard Sands, chairman of the board of Constellation Brands Inc., and Rob Sands, president and chief executive officer of Constellation Brands and the wife of Andrew Stern, M.D., a Rochester neurologist.

“Susan McDaniel has been recognized for her groundbreaking work across the U.S., and throughout much of the world,” said Eric Caine, M.D., chair of the Department of Psychiatry and John Romano Professor of Psychiatry. “What has made Susan’s work most important, however, has been its impact inside the offices of primary care clinicians who now work side-by-side with mental health colleagues. Rather than sending patients and families to mental health providers, Susan and colleagues have pioneered Medical Family Therapy, which brings the providers into the day-to-day primary care settings, and bonds their work with internists, family practitioners, pediatricians, and others who serve on the front lines of medical care. In short, she has changed the way we deliver the best to those who need it the most.”

McDaniel focuses on training physicians and other health professionals to work in primary care, where most of the mental health care is delivered in this country. The Institute for the Family combines patient care, research and education in three elements, Strong Family Therapy Services, The Wynne Center for Family Research and the University of Rochester Family Therapy Training Program.

“Our Medical Center is home to important research on heart disease, cancer and other illnesses,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer of the Medical Center. “Research and care that strengthens the family and keeps family members mentally well is just as important. The generous gift from the Sands Family Foundation is a clear endorsement for the work of Susan McDaniel and the Institute for the Family.”

Joel Seligman, University president, and G. Robert Witmer Jr., chairman emeritus of the University board of trustees, will preside at the installation. In addition to Richard Sands and Andrew Stern, speakers at the ceremony include Danny Wegman, chief executive officer of Wegmans Food Markets Inc., and William Pinsof, member of the board of the Wynne Center for Family Research.

The ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. May 7 in the Class of 1962 Auditorium in the University of Rochester Medical Center.

McDaniel received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology from Duke University, and her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in family therapy at the University of Texas in Houston.

McDaniel is the author or co-author of more than 80 journal articles, 66 book chapters, and 12 books, including Medical Family Therapy (1992), The Shared Experience of Illness (1997), Primary Care Psychology (2004), The Biopsychosocial Approach: Past, Present, and Future (2004), Individuals, Families, and the New Era of Genetics (2007) and Family Therapy (2009). She has given lectures at institutions and forums around the world. In addition to many professional awards, McDaniel received the prestigious American Psychological Foundation/Cummings PSYCHE Prize in 2007. She is on the board of the American Family Therapy Academy.

Dr. Sands, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsin, earned a master’s degree in Physiology at the University of California at Berkeley for work in the area of drugs and the biochemistry of brain development. She graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1976 and completed her residency at Rochester General Hospital in 1979. 

Dr. Sands was known for her dedication to the teaching and practice of medicine and as an ardent patient advocate. She never wore a white coat, not wanting to hold herself above or apart from her patients, but acting more as a partner in their medical care. The passion Dr. Sands had for her practice was second only to her love for her family and her children, Abby and Zach.

The Sands Family Foundation has provided the gift to honor Dr. Sands and her devotion to medicine and family, but also to endorse and support the work of the Institute for the Family. The Institute plans to raise additional funds to enhance and expand its efforts.