Dennis S. Charney, MD, is Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs for the Mount Sinai Health System. He is also a world expert in the neurobiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, making fundamental contributions to the understanding of the causes of human anxiety, fear, depression, and resilience, and the discovery of new treatments for mood and anxiety disorders.
Dr. Charney was recruited to Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2004 as Dean of Research. In 2007, he became the Dean of the School and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of the Medical Center. In 2013, he was additionally named President for Academic Affairs for the Health System.
Under Dr. Charney’s leadership, the Icahn School of Medicine has risen to a rank of 13th among U.S. medical schools in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, and the School currently ranks first in funding per faculty member from the NIH and other sources. With a long track record of strategic recruitments across the biomedical sciences and in genomics, computational biology, entrepreneurship, and information technology, Mount Sinai has cultivated a supercharged, Silicon Valley-like atmosphere in the academic setting. In 2009, the Icahn School of Medicine received the Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
As the sole medical school partnering with the seven hospitals of the Mount Sinai Health System, the Icahn School of Medicine has one of the most expansive training and research footprints in the nation. Early in his tenure as Dean, Dr. Charney unveiled Mount Sinai's $2.25 billion strategic plan that laid the foundation for the 17 robust Research Institutes that Mount Sinai is known for today. These institutes are hubs of scientific and clinical enterprise, working together to challenge the limits of science and medicine. Within—and across—them, scientists and physicians, who themselves are members of the teaching faculty, can facilitate the development of effective treatments for the most serious medical conditions. In 2017, Dr. Charney launched a five-year strategic plan for the School focusing on research and education. This new strategic plan provides a roadmap for continued interdisciplinary collaboration, innovation and discovery, with special emphasis on growth in precision medicine, immunotherapy, neurosciences, cancer, and cardiology.
In the Health System, Dr. Charney is currently developing the structure for complementary Clinical Institutes that will serve as Centers of Excellence for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, HIV, pulmonary diseases, and more, with the anticipation that this architecture — compatible research and clinical institutes — will further eliminate silos and generate game-changing models in clinical excellence and standards of care. To further advance this goal, Dr. Charney also led the development of nationally unique partnerships between Mount Sinai and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and between Mount Sinai and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. These relationships are designed to pool Mount Sinai's expertise in biomedical research and patient care with Rensselaer's and Stony Brook’s talent in engineering, computation, and prototyping. Together, the institutions are developing the educational programs, research projects, and infrastructure needed to invent novel biomedical technologies while training a new breed of translationally focused scientists.
Dr. Charney's career began in 1981 at Yale, where, within nine years, he rose from Assistant Professor to Professor of Psychiatry with tenure, a position he held for a decade. At Yale, he chaired the NIMH Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises the Institute's director on intramural research programs. In 2000, NIMH recruited Dr. Charney to lead its Mood and Anxiety Disorder Research Program — one of the largest programs of its kind in the world —and the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch.
Dr. Charney’s own research on depression has led to new hypotheses regarding the mechanisms of antidepressant drugs and discovery of new and novel therapies for treatment resistant depression including Lithium and Ketamine. The work demonstrating that Ketamine is a rapidly acting antidepressant has been hailed as one of the most exciting developments in antidepressant therapy in more than half a century. More recently, his pioneering research has expanded to include the psychobiological mechanisms of human resilience to stress.
Elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2000, Dr. Charney has been honored with every major award in his field for his scientific research. Recent honors includes being named one of the world’s most influential scientific minds by Thomson Reuters in 2015. In 2016, Cybermetrics Lab (a research group belonging to Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, the largest public research body in Spain) named Dr. Charney one of the world’s most highly cited life science researchers; he stands as number 48 in a list of 1,360 researchers that appear most prominently in Google Scholar Citations. In 2017, the Cleveland Clinic identified Dr. Charney’s discovery of the use of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression as one of the top 10 medical innovations of the year.
A prolific author, Dr. Charney has written or co-authored more than 700 publications, including groundbreaking scientific papers, chapters, and books. His studies on human resilience, which identified ten key resilience factors for building the strength to weather and bounce back from stress and trauma, are summarized in an inspiring book, Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges, co-authored by Steven Southwick and published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. Other recent books include Neurobiology of Mental Illness (Oxford University Press, USA, Fourth Edition, 2013); The Peace of Mind Prescription: An Authoritative Guide to Finding the Most Effective Treatment for Anxiety and Depression (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004); The Physician’s Guide to Depression and Bipolar Disorders (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006), Resilience and Mental Health: Challenges Across the Lifespan (Cambridge University Press, 2011).