Officer Biographies

Vanessa Lauzon, M.D., President

Dr. Vanessa Lauzon, is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and the Medical Director of Consultation-Liaison & Emergency Psychiatry Services at the UC San Diego Health Hillcrest Medical Center.  She earned a BA in Spanish and BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Southern California. She earned her MD degree from the Keck School of Medicine at USC.  She completed a combined residency in psychiatry and family medicine at UC San Diego, and is board certified in family medicine and psychiatry. She was also one of the first fellows in the UC San Diego community psychiatry fellowship.

Dr. Lauzon first joined the San Diego Psychiatric Society as a resident, and has been active on the SDPS Council since 2010. Her roles have included Member-in-Training Representative, Early Career Psychiatrist Representative, and member of the SDPS Executive Committee. She has helped organize multiple CME conference events for SDPS and was the Co-Chair of the CME Conference Committee in 2015-16. During residency training, she was honored as an American Psychiatric Association (APA) Public Psychiatry Fellow and was a member of the APA Council on Advocacy and Government Relations. Dr. Lauzon is also a member of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry (formerly the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine).

Dr. Lauzon counts her participation in organized psychiatry through SDPS and the APA as one of the most important influences on her career development, as it has introduced her to several of her most valued mentors. In that spirit, she is excited to have this opportunity to give back to the San Diego psychiatric community as SDPS President. Her goals are to increase formal and informal mentorship opportunities for SDPS members, to provide high-quality local CME programs, and to continue strengthening the Society’s advocacy for local public policies relating to mental health in San Diego County.

Ben Hidy, M.D., President-Elect

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.

sanjai Rao, M.D., Vice-President

Dr. Rao is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at University of California, San Diego.  He received a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University.  He received his medical degree from USCD and completed his adult psychiatry residency at UCSD.  Dr. Rao is double -board certified in general psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine. Since graduating, his primary clinical role has been as an inpatient attending psychiatrist at the VA Medical Center in San Diego. He is both an Associate Training Director and the Site Director at the VA Medical Center for the UCSD Psychiatry Residency.

Dr. Rao has done research in and published on multiple areas, including treatment resistant depression, depression and delirium in palliative care, anxious depression, side effects of antipsychotic medications, and residency training.

Guided by a strong interest in education, Dr. Rao coordinates large parts of the residency curriculum and has received a number of teaching awards based on his clinical and academic work, including the APA Irma Bland Award for Excellence in Residency Teaching, and was inducted as an APA Distinguished Fellow in 2017.

As Vice President, he hopes to learn from and contribute to SDPS, especially in the areas of training and education.

Larry Malak, M.D., Immediate Past-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 has welcomed his first child to his growing family.

Jessica Thackaberry, M.D., Secretary

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 Medical Science Liason for Mylan Pharmaceuticals.