Message from the Chair

From the Chair, Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD

The Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University is preeminent among academic medical institutions in psychiatric research, education and clinical care. With its long history and rich tradition of academic leadership and scientific excellence, the Department has made numerous important contributions to the knowledge base and practice of psychiatry for more than a century. For years we have been one of the National Institutes of Health’s top ranked research funding programs, supporting our world-class research and training. Our state of the art clinical services are among the highest ranked in the U.S. News & World Report through our affiliation with NewYork-Presbyterian, and our long-time affiliation with the New York State Office of Mental Health allows the Department to translate the latest scientific findings into standards of care and public mental health care services.

The Department is fortunate to have a large and exceptionally diverse faculty comprised of over 400 psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and neuro-behavioral scientists. Our clinical facilities and laboratories are located in a matrix of institutions and health care systems affiliated with Columbia University Irving Medical Center including the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the New York State Psychiatric Institute, the New York State Office of Mental Health, and the Washington Heights Community Service. We are also home to the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, the Lieber Center for Schizophrenia Research and Treatment, and the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology. Major research programs focus on particular disease areas such as anxiety and mood disorders (from childhood through old-age), suicide, eating disorders, schizophrenia, dementia, neuro-developmental disorders (including autism) and personality disorders using research approaches that range from studies that attempt to specify the basic mechanisms of a disease to those that examine the clinical efficacy of a particular treatment modality. Epidemiology, behavioral and cellular pharmacology, molecular and developmental neurobiology, brain imaging, genetics, and psychopharmacology all play a role in helping us in our quest to understand and treat brain and behavioral disorders.

In fulfilling its tripartite mission of research, education and clinical service, the Department of Psychiatry seeks to define the standards of care and practices in psychiatric medicine for the field. In this regard, its special relationship with the New York State Office of Mental Health provides an exemplary model of an academic and public partnership. The Department’s offices and laboratories are housed primarily in the New York State Psychiatric Institute, a state supported, research-dedicated institution that vastly enlarges the scope and vitality of the department and is located on the campus of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

There has never been a more exciting time in psychiatry. The neurosciences represent the last great frontier of biomedical research and the technologies with which to explore it are burgeoning and breathtaking. With the recognition and acceptance of mental illness as a malfunction of the brain, the Intricate relationship between the brain and physical and mental health is finally becoming understood. The application of new methods and technologies for psychiatric diagnosis such as neuro-imaging and gene expression profiling coupled with new therapeutic agents and modalities will elevate the rigor and effectiveness of psychiatric medicine. At the same time it is incumbent upon all mental health professionals to ensure that state of the art services are extended through all health care systems to all populations in need and that such services are adequately financed and supported.

Whether you are looking at this site for descriptions of our educational programs, current research or information about finding a physician or contacting our celebrated clinical services, I welcome you to the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.