Dr. Starks’ interests lie in understanding the cultural and social effects of mental health conditions on patients and families. He has designed programs that integrate mental health practice into home-based care, long-term care and primary care practice settings to ensure individuals with mental health and substance use disorders receive compassionate and effective psychiatric care and treatment.
He serves the University of Houston College of Medicine with roles in education, curriculum development and community partnerships. He has a passion for mental health advocacy and serving communities that have been marginalized and made vulnerable by social and structural factors. He has completed formal training in health equity and works tirelessly to address racism and inequity in medical education, organized medicine and mental health policy. During his fellowship year in the 116th Congress he contributed to the design, drafting and roll out of the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), the first comprehensive policy proposal to empower the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate the price of prescription drugs which passed the House in December 2019.
He earned his medical degree from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans receiving the Dean’s Award at commencement. He completed postgraduate psychiatry training at Baylor College of Medicine Affiliated Hospitals Residency Program and a clinical fellowship in geriatric psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Medical Center. He is a diplomate of the American Board and Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. with certifications in the specialty of psychiatry and the subspecialty of geriatric psychiatry.
Why I Applied to be a Fellow
"I have become increasingly attuned to healthcare policy's profound influence on the older adults, families and communities I serve. Modern-day medical care often overlooks the interplay between clinical practice and policy. My education, training and experiences as a geriatric psychiatrist have offered a “frame of practice” i.e. they have shown me how to provide medical care within structured systems of care. However, these opportunities have been unable to offer a broader understanding of these systems and, most importantly, the skills necessary to improve them. The Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program has allowed me to reshape health policies that address the challenges our elderly face in receiving comprehensive mental health care – obstacles that include barriers to access, inequities in treatment and inadequate community resources. Through engagement in this program, my efforts have shifted to advocacy for geriatric mental health & wellness from guiding individuals to empowering communities."
U.S. House of Representatives Office of the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi