Milton Wainberg, MD

  • Professor of Psychiatry (in Sociomedical Sciences) at CUMC
Profile Headshot


Milton Wainberg is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute, Director of the NIMH-funded Columbia University Global Mental Health Implementation Science T32-Post Doctoral Fellowship, NIMH/Fogarty International-funded Portuguese-speaking African countries Mental Health Implementation Research Training Program, Founding Chair of the Caucus of Global Mental Health and Psychiatry of the American Psychiatric Association, and Medical Director of the Columbia University HIV Mental Health Training Project. Dr. Wainberg is also the Chair of the Mental Health HIV Clinical Guidelines Committee of the New York State Department of Health/AIDS Institute, and Principal investigator or investigator of several NIMH, NIAAA, NIDA and CDC studies addressing HIV prevention and adherence to treatment, alcohol and drugs, sexual compulsivity, HIV-associated fatigue, and mental disorders.

Dr. Wainberg is a Latino research psychiatrist who is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese whose research aims at implementing and disseminating scalable and sustainable efficacious interventions to decrease the research to practice gap. His research foci include global mental health implementation science and the intersection of HIV prevention and care with mental health and substance use among diverse vulnerable populations in the U.S. and globally. He has extensive clinical, research, teaching and capacity building experience in HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance use issues. He is an expert in several manualized short-term evidence-based interventions for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.

He conducts weekly in-service, mental health-related trainings for primary care providers addressing the intersection of HIV prevention and care, mental health and substance abuse treatment for both HIV infected and at risk individuals in resource poor areas of New York and New Jersey. He has worked to adapt HIV prevention interventions for South African and Brazilian psychiatric patients and written HIV-related policy for the South African mental health care system. Through different US federally-funded and local country-funded resources, he has conducted capacity building trainings in South Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mozambique, Venezuela, Spain, and in resource poor areas of the U.S. He collaborated in the writing and updating of the WHO Integrated Management of Adult and Adolescent Illnesses (IMAI) for Mental Health in Second Level Care, which is part of the capacity building within the WHO “3 by 5” initiative. Dr. Wainberg recently joined the Research Foundation to Cure AIDS, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and developing new technologies and strategies toward a cure with the hope that a cure will be made available and affordable to those in need worldwide.

His work addressing mental illness stigma has focused on understanding its impact on sexuality and HIV risk behaviors among adults and adolescents in psychiatric care. He is currently developing a tool to be used by providers to assess mental illness stigma and decrease its impact on health outcomes. He is using his community-based participatory research expertise to develop collaborative allopathic and non-allopathic mental health care as an approach to narrow the mental health treatment gap in low-income countries where traditional healers play a significant role providing care.

Under his mentorship, U.S. post-doctoral fellows are constructing groundbreaking mental health implementation research in Colombia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Uganda. His Mozambique mental health implementation training program uses a research-practice-policy-community capacity building approach to develop a comprehensive research plan to implement and disseminate evidence-based practices in the public health system of Mozambique focusing on sustainable strategies to decrease the local mental health treatment gap, while training future academic and policy leaders of mental health in the region.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Psychiatry (in Sociomedical Sciences) at CUMC


  • Hebrew
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish


  • Male

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • MD, 1987 Medicine, Universidad Central De Venezuela: Caracas
  • Residency: 1993 Mount Sinai School of Medicine New York
  • Fellowship: 1994 Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY


Dr. Wainberg has been involved in Global Mental Health federally funded (NIMH, NIAAA, NIDA and CDC) implementation research combining community based participatory patient centered research with multidisciplinary teams in the conduction of formative work, intervention adaptation and development, piloting and efficacy-testing and research capacity building and training that focuses on enhancing real-world prevention and clinical treatment of mental health and substance abuse with diverse vulnerable populations, including those affected by HIV.

As a Latino research psychiatrist who is fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish, Dr. Wainberg has been involved in U.S. and international NIH-funded implementation research activities since the late 1980s, including work in the U.S., Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. He is the Director of a T32 Global Mental Health Implementation Research Fellowship (T32 MH096724; Wainberg/Oquendo - Global Mental Health Research Fellowship: Interventions That Make a Difference), the Medical Director of the Columbia University HIV Mental Health Training Project, the chair of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Caucus in Global Mental Health & Psychiatry, a member of the APA Committee on AIDS, and the Chair of the Mental Health HIV Clinical Guidelines Committee of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute. He has conducted research focused on HIV related, mental health, substance use and sexual health within health systems in Brazil, South Africa, and in the U.S.

Since 2002, Dr. Wainberg began a series of implementation research projects in Brazil beginning an NIMH-funded HIV prevention project (R01 MH65163; Principal Investigator: Wainberg) within the Rio de Janeiro public mental health system of care. This study set the stage to create an intervention implemetnation model (Wainberg, M et al, AIDS and Behavior, 2007). Dr, Wainberg has expanded this model to be used with other at risk populations, such as adolescents who also abuse substances. He is currently the PI (R01DA026775) and MPI (R34MH094163) of two implementation HIV/STI prevention intervention studies for youth with substance use disorders and mental disorders in NYC and Brazil, respectively.

Research Interests

  • Global Mental Health Research
  • HIV Psychiatry - prevention and treatment
  • Individual Psychotherapy - Psychopharmacology

Selected Publications

  • Wainberg ML, McKinnon K, Mattos PE, Pinto D, Gruber Mann C, Oliveira C, Oliveira-Broxado S, Remien RH, Elkington KS, Cournos F, PRISSMA Project.: A model for adapting evidence-based behavioral interventions to a new culture: HIV Prevention for psychiatric patients in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.. AIDS and Behavior 2007;Jan 10: Epub ahead of print
  • Wainberg M, Gonzalez MA, McKinnon K, Elkington KS, Pinto D, Mann C, Mattos P: Targeted ethnography as a critical step to inform cultural adaptations of HIV prevention interventions for adults with severe mental illness. Social Science and Medicine 2007
  • Wainberg ML, Muench F, Morgenstern J, Hollander E, Irwin T, Parsons JT, Allen A, and O'Leary A.: Citalopram vs. placebo in the treatment of compulsive sexual behaviors in gay and bisexual men.. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2006;67(12): 1968-73
  • Cournos F, McKinnon K, Wainberg M.: What can mental health interventions contribute to the global struggle against HIV/AIDS?. World Psychiatry 2005;4(3): 135-41
  • Morgenstern J, Irwin TW, Wainberg ML, Parsons JT, Muench F, Bux DA Jr, Kahler CW, Marcus S, Schulz-Heik J.: A randomized controlled trial of goal choice interventions for alcohol use disorders among men who have sex with men. J Consult Clin Psychol 2007;75(1): 72-84