Back when I was a medical student I would follow around patients caught and confused in layers and layers of big hospital systems. Later as a resident physician leading care for individual patients, I would wonder how good the evidence was for our treatment recommendations, or why an alternative approach hadn’t been studied. Wanting answers to the steady flow of questions that arose from my clinical observations has always been at the heart of why I consider myself a researcher in medicine, a physician-investigator.

My patients have taught me that our social environment and the system and structure of the health care systems we have built exert great influences on us. They affect whether, how, and to what degree we receive and respond to health care prevention and treatment.

I have specialized my work in the field of health services research, particularly mental health services. My primary research focus is the role of social relationships, social support, and social isolation in influencing mental health outcomes, including depression and suicide. I am an international expert in a severe form of social withdrawal called hikikomori, maintain interest in cultural psychiatry, and am fluent in Japanese. My research has been disseminated by domestic and international media including NPR, TIME, and the Wall Street Journal.

I am experienced in a diverse set of research methods and approaches including survey development, secondary data analyses of population-based datasets, participatory research, systematic review, and mixed methods. My current and recent research projects focus on suicide prevention in military veterans, social isolation in Japan, and engagement of close social supports in patients’ depression care.

I graduated from Stanford University, received medical and psychiatric training at University of California San Francisco, and completed a master’s degree in health services research at University of Michigan, where I was also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar.

*The materials posted here do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.