University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine. The UTRGV Department of Psychiatry was established in 2019 and graduated the first resident class in June 2021. Since establishing patient services, our UTRGV psychiatrists and residents have served approximately 500 children, adolescents and adults per month.

In addition to clinical services, UTRGV School of Medicine currently has a number clinical research grants, including: National Institute of Health grant to research the genetics of depression, dementia and bipolar disorder, Hogg Foundation grant to teach recovery-oriented psychiatry, and a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to health professionals mental health treatment in integrated primary care settings. Through research, patient services, and building relationships with community agencies, the UTRGV School of Medicine Psychiatry Department is committed to improving the lives and well-being of our Rio Grande Valley community. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Department of Psychiatry has an experienced team of child and adolescent mental professionals who are supported by Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Counselors, Social Workers and Community Health Workers. Dr. Cynthia Garza serves as the UTRGV Node Lead with Dr. Diana Chapa, Node Co-Lead, for the TCMHCC Youth Depression and Suicide Research Network.

Cynthia Garza, PsyD
Cynthia Garza, PsyD
Node Lead

Cynthia Garza, PsyD is a UTRGV Assistant Professor and licensed Clinical Psychologist from Brownsville, Texas. As a daughter and granddaughter of educators, Dr. Garza is committed to serving children and families to support the success of our next generation. Dr. Garza received her undergraduate and master’s education at The University of Texas at San Antonio and completed her doctoral training at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Throughout her clinical training, she saw patients of all ages in primary care, community mental health, college counseling, emergency and crisis response. She did her clinical internship at Norton Sound Health Corporation, in Nome, Alaska, where she also completed her postdoctoral fellowship in Primary Care Behavioral Health.

In Alaska, Dr. Garza gained clinical experience in brief models of care, risk assessment, safety planning, and harm reduction for suicidal behaviors, non-suicidal self-injury, and substance use disorders. Dr. Garza is certified in testing for Autism and received diagnostic training for developmental disabilities and learning disorders from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Regarding her overall approach to patient care, Dr. Garza has experience providing trauma-informed care, cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral reinforcement and modification planning, suicide prevention and counseling, motivational interviewing, substance abuse counseling, grief counseling, marital and family therapies.

Diana Chapa, MD
Diana Chapa, MD
Node Co-Lead

Diana Chapa, MD is an RGV native. Recently relocating to her hometown from Minnesota, Dr. Chapa obtained her MD at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1995. She is an assistant professor of Psychiatry at the UTRGV School of Medicine and is double boarded in Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Chapa completed her Psychiatry internship and residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Affiliated Hospitals from July 1995 to June 1998. She then trained in the same institution for a Child and Adolescent Fellowship from July 1998 to June 2000, where she remained as an Assistant Professor in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship.  While an assistant professor with the Medical College, Dr. Chapa received an award outstanding teaching.

Prior to her joining UTRGV, Dr. Chapa was an adjunct faculty with the University of Minnesota.  She was Medical Director of the child and adolescent psychiatry in patient units, where she and her staff were responsible for the teaching and training of the medical students, advance practice nursing students, residents, and fellows rotating through the 4 inpatient units she oversaw.  During her this time Dr. Chapa published an article on Adolescent Substance Use Disorders and one on Racism in Medicine.

With her return to the Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Chapa’s goal is to make a positive impact to our community through her resident teachings and supervision

Node Team
Alessandra Rizzo Esposito
Alexa Alvarez Lopez
Catherine Hernandez
Kate Barajas
Laisha Guajardo