Message from the Chair

Welcome

It is with much pleasure that I welcome you to the website of the Mount Sinai Department of Psychiatry. After an absence of 23 years – during which I was Chair of Psychiatry and subsequently Head of the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, The Netherlands - I am now back where I started, having trained in psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital and the Bronx VA in New York. The intervening quarter century has – fortunately - not left psychiatry unaffected. One of the most important changes is that we now are well under way to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of psychiatric disease - which was not a given only a decade ago. Moreover, research has shown that, although clinically useful, the current diagnostic categories may be less helpful from a pathogenic vantage point. Third, and most importantly, we now have promising leads to clarify the pathogenesis –and, through that, the etiology – of psychiatric illness. The faculty at Mount Sinai, consisting of world-leading experts in their respective fields, not only contributed to these exciting findings but are determined to continue this progress in order to improve the welfare of individuals with mental disorders. This is our primary and overriding goal.

We at the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai are well-equipped to continue to lead the new developments in psychiatry, both scientifically and clinically. Not only do we have the talent, we have the numbers too: 125 full-time faculty work at our Mount Sinai Hospital campus alone. Another 115 faculty work at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s. We have some 75 trainees in seven residency and fellowship programs, and many of our 329 voluntary faculty members actively supervise residents. Indeed, in addition to leading the clinical and scientific developments in psychiatry, we see it as our mission to develop and foster the next generation of top scientists and doctors in the field of mental health.

We pride ourselves on being a national model for translating basic neuroscience discoveries into patient care advances. The organizational structure afforded by the Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai helps facilitate these objectives. The brain-focused clinical departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurosurgery are linked with the basic sciences via the Department of Neuroscience and the Institute. Our close and productive affiliation with the Bronx VA Hospital is another ingredient for achieving this goal. The combined resources of the Mount Sinai Health System offer unparalleled opportunities to discover new and better interventions to target major neuropsychiatric disorders.

Progress Through Psychiatric Research

In the Department of Psychiatry, we envision a time when we will accurately diagnose a psychiatric disorder using a combination of biomarkers and clinical indicators, and then select a personalized treatment (whether biological or behavioral) that can prevent, cure, or alter the course of an illness. With a limited understanding of etiology and virtual absence of valid biomarkers throughout the field, most treatments have merely ameliorated symptoms. Our researchers are blazing new trails in the field. 

Our strategy is to look beyond traditional clinical symptoms to the underlying factors that we can explore through genetics, brain imaging, or other biomarkers. Although the full payoff may be years away, we are not wasting any time in bringing state-of-the-art treatment to our patients. We use the most robust, evidence-based treatments available to care for our patients and teach these to our trainees. 

Specialized Care

Our model of care couples research and clinical care with education through our Centers of Excellence, managing patients across their lifespan and according to symptoms. We offer an array of modalities, from pharmacotherapy to psychosocial treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. Although the thrust of our new programs has been at the ambulatory level, Mount Sinai continues to provide higher intensity care to our inpatients, with specialized units for children, adolescents, and the elderly, and those with addiction disorders, in addition to general adult services. Accordingly, we are able to provide expert inpatient and outpatient care for a wide range of conditions for patients of all ages.

Whether you are striving to learn about our research, treatment or educational programs, as a scientist, colleague, patient or trainee, we hope you find the visit to our website informative. If you have any trouble finding what you are looking for, please feel free to contact me personally and I will try to direct you to the best resources. Thank you for visiting and please think of Mount Sinai Psychiatry as your portal to the latest advances in research on, and treatment of, major mental disorders.

René S. Kahn, MD, PhD
Esther and Joseph Klingenstein Professor & Chair,
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health System