Officer Biographies

Larry Malak, M.D., President

Dr. Lawrence Malak is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and serves as Associate Director for UCSD Community Psychiatry Fellowship and Associate Residency Training Director.  He attended medical school in Houston at Baylor College of Medicine before returning to California for residency training at UCSD.  While in residency, he served as Chief Resident at UCSD Medical Center and won the Lewis Judd Resident Research Award for his original work looking at psychiatric re-admissions to UCSD.  He was twice honored by the UCSD Department of Psychiatry for the Full Time Faculty Teaching Award.

Dr. Malak has been active within organized psychiatry at the national, state and local level since residency.  He served as a Resident Representative to the San Diego Psychiatric Society Council and has since held several positions on Council and Executive Committee before becoming President. He has been part of the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association as both the Area 6 Member-in-Training Representative and currently as the Early Career Representative. Dr. Malak has been part of planning the CME conferences for SDPS and the California Psychiatric Association.  He is also on the scientific planning committee of the American Psychiatric Association's Institute on Psychiatric Services.  He was recently elected to  the board of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists.  Dr. Malak is active with the California Psychiatric Association Government Affairs Committee and is currently the California Psychiatric Association Political Action Committee Chair.

As President, Dr. Malak hopes to continue to improve on community advocacy, increase educational activities for SDPS members and foster relationships with both Navy Balboa and UCSD residency programs to increase support for Resident Fellow Members. Additionally, he looks to welcome his first child to his growing family.

Vanessa Lauzon, M.D., President-Elect

Dr. Vanessa Lauzon is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UC San Diego. She received her Bachelor's degree and MD from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and completed a combined residency at UC San Diego in Psychiatry and Family Medicine, as well as a fellowship in Community Psychiatry. She currently runs the Consultation-Liaison psychiatry service at UC San Diego Health in Hillcrest. Her professional interests include medical education, women's mental health, treatment of patients with complex co-morbid medical and psychiatric illness, and primary care-behavioral health integration.

Ben Hidy, M.D., Vice-President

Dr. Ben Hidy received his BA in International Studies from Texas A & M University and graduated in 2010 from medical school from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.   He completed his psychiatric training at UC Davis in 2014.  Dr. Hidy is a psychiatrist at Palomar Health and also serves on the Palomar Health System Ethics Committee and Medical Staff Peer Review Committee at Palomar Medical Center, Poway.

Dr. Hidy is honored to receive Palomar Health Physician of the Year for 2017.

He strongly believes that being involved in organized medicine provides us, as physicians, a greater voice to influence healthcare and legislative policy. Collectively, we are better equipped to advocate for the health of our patients and society, project ourselves as leaders and role models in our communities, and to promote educational endeavors to optimize clinical excellence amongst our members.


Robert Gorney, M.D.,  Immediate Past-President

Robert Gorney, M.D., is an adult and geriatric psychiatrist. Originally from San Diego, he graduated with a bachelors of science degree in biochemistry and cell biology from UCSD before attending medical school at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, CA, where he graduated in 2008. He did an internship in internal medicine at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, prior to finishing his residency in psychiatry at UCSD. He was a chief resident at the VA Medical Center in La Jolla, CA in 2012-2013. During that year he won the Lewis L. Judd Award for his research related to alcohol use in older adults and its relationship with domains of successful aging. Subsequently, he completed a clinical fellowship in geriatric psychiatry, also at UCSD.  He is currently working for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Dr. Gorney has participated in several roles on Council. He served as Councilor, Communications Committee chair, and Executive Committee member.


Jessica Thackaberry, M.D., Secretary / State Legislative Representative

Jessica Thackaberry, M.D. After receiving her B.A. in Psychology from Central Washington University, Dr. Thackaberry entered the University of Washington Medical School.  She was a member of Omega Delta Kappa Honor Society from 2005-11 and received the SPARKX/CHAP award in 2009-10 for her activities serving the underserved.  Dr. Thackaberry is on the faculty of UCSD.  Her interests outside of work include music (piano and guitar), movies, playing board games and hanging out with family.

Manuel Garcia, M.D., Treasurer

Dr. Manuel "Manny" Garcia earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, MO and his medical degree from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH.  He did a flexible internship at the Cleveland Clinic, then went on to complete his residency in psychiatry and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of California in San Diego.   Dr. Garcia has past work experience as a Medical Director on the Neuroscience Medical Liaison teams of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.  He has also served as a Councilor for SDPS Council.  Currently, Dr. Garcia is a Behavioral Health Medical Director for United Healthcare Military & Veterans Division.  He also maintains a part-time private practice in Carmel Valley.

Maria Tiamson-Kassab, M.D., DFAPA, FAPM, Assembly Representative

Dr. Maria Tiamson-Kassab is a clinician, educator and administrator who has made and continues to make significant contributions to the clinical and academic aspects of psychiatry. She has written articles and has made many national and regional presentations on various topics in Psychiatry and Consultation-Liaison or Psychosomatic Medicine. She has authored a "Practical Guide to Psychosomatic Medicine" and wrote chapters in a book on Psychosomatic Medicine. Dr. Tiamson-Kassab has made outstanding contributions to the Department of Psychiatry at New York Medical College/Westchester Medical Center and moved to the VA, initially in Hudson Valley, New York where she received the VA Secretary Hands and Heart Award and then at the San Diego VA Healthcare System. At the San Diego VA, she oversaw the Acute and Intensive Care Services and was the Associate Chief of Psychiatry.

Dr. Tiamson-Kassab is currently the Director of Psychiatry and Psychosocial Services at  UCSD Moores Cancer Center and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD.  In addition, she is a member of the UCSD Physician Well-being Committee and the H.E.A.R. Committee.

She is also a Fellow of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine and a member of the council of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine where she is the Chair of the Membership Standing Committee. Dr. Tiamson-Kassab was a past President of the Psychiatric Society of Westchester in New York and their former Assembly Representative to the APA.

Dr. Tiamson-Kassab was member of the SDPS Executive Council from 2013-15.  She was on the SDPS Planning Committee for the DSM5 Conference, Trauma Conference and Integrating Mental and Medical Care Conference.

She is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

In 2015, Dr. Tiamson-Kassab received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Liaison Psychiatry in New York.