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Dr. Debra Pinals named to roles with MDHHS, University of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2016

CONTACT: Angela Minicuci, MDHHS, (517) 241-2112
                 Stephanie Abraham, U of M, (734) 936-8309


LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today named Debra Pinals, M.D. the new Medical Director of Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs. The University of Michigan announced Dr. Pinals’ concurrent appointment as a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry as the Director of the Program in Psychiatry, Law & Ethics. Dr. Pinals’ will be transitioning into her roles with the state and the university beginning on March 7, 2016.

"As the Medical Director of Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs, Dr. Pinals' experience and leadership will help promote quality of care in our state hospitals and community services," said Nick Lyon, director of the MDHHS.

Dr. Pinals will Dr. Deb Pinals advise the MDHHS director on behavioral health policy, forensic practice, justice and behavioral health, and treatment issues; serve as a resource on mental health and forensic clinical matters to all divisions within the department, other state departments, and the mental health field; and promote the use of mental health care and treatment best practices that are scientifically validated and recovery oriented.

Dr. Pinals will serve concurrently in her roles with the MDHHS and the University of Michigan.

"The University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry is delighted to welcome Dr. Pinals to our faculty," said Gregory Dalack, M.D., the chair of the department.  "We are pleased to have someone with Dr. Pinals' experience and vision join our department. We look forward to her leadership of our Forensic Service and her key role at the state level in advising the MDHHS Director on behavioral health issues".

In Dr. Pinals’ role with the university, she will develop U-M’s Forensic Psychiatry program, provide leadership to the Forensic Service in Ambulatory Psychiatry, and be the lead faculty member in the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program, working closely with Craig Lemmen, MD, program director.

Dr. Pinals comes to Michigan from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health where she oversaw the agency’s justice and behavioral health programs including juvenile and adult court clinic, mental health court clinical services, police training and diversion, as well as mental health reentry services and specialized veterans justice programs while providing risk management consultation throughout the agency.  Dr. Pinals also previously served as the

Interim Deputy Commissioner of Clinical and Professional Services and Interim State Medical Director of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health working on matters related to behavioral and physical health integration with payment reform strategies among others.

Additionally, Dr. Pinals was an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Forensic Education at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Dr. Pinals is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Adult and Forensic Psychiatry and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine.

Dr. Pinals received her medical degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed psychiatry and forensic training through Harvard Medical School and conducted a research fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health.

For more information about the position within the Michigan mental health code, visit

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