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 a world-renowned expert in the neurobiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders who has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of human anxiety, fear, depression, and resilience, and has played a key role in the discovery of new treatments for mood and anxiety disorders.
Dr. Charney was recruited to Icahn 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 what was then known as the Mount Sinai Medical Center. In 2013, he was named President for Academic Affairs for the Health System.
Under Dr. Charney’s leadership, Icahn Mount Sinai has become one of the nation’s leading medical schools. He has recruited world-class faculty across the biomedical sciences, as well as in computational biology, information technology, and entrepreneurship to cultivate a supercharged, Silicon Valley-style atmosphere in an academic setting.
Icahn Mount Sinai is among the nation’s top recipients of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, reflecting the fact that Dr. Charney has hired faculty members who are both innovative, ambitious researchers and dedicated educators.
Dr. Charney has prioritized anti-racism initiatives. He established the Mount Sinai Institute for Health Equity Research, which is working to improve health and access to care across the nation’s demographic divide, and expanded Icahn Mount Sinai’s efforts to promote diversity and gender equity in medicine. In June of 2020, Dr. Charney and Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, convened the Mount Sinai Health System Task Force to Address Racism. The Task Force built a roadmap, currently being implemented, for leadership to address and eliminate structural racism and inequities within Mount Sinai, and to serve as a model for dismantling racism and bias in science and medicine.
As the sole medical school partnering with the eight 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 a strategic plan that laid the foundation for the more than two dozen 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, 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. It provides a roadmap for continued interdisciplinary collaboration, innovation and discovery, with special emphasis on growth in precision medicine, immunotherapy, neurosciences, cancer, and cardiology.
To further advance research and achieve breakthrough results that translate to improved patient care, Dr. Charney encourages collaborative research efforts, not only within Mount Sinai, but also with leading scientific organizations. Dr. Charney established a partnership with the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany to develop digital health products that can advance precision medicine. Dr. Charney also led the development of 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 talents 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 National Institute of Mental Health’s (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. He is a co-inventor on a patent for the use of ketamine as a therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In recent years, 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. Thomson Reuters named Dr. Charney one of the world’s most influential scientific minds in 2015. In 2016, Cybermetrics Lab (a research group belonging to 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. He was among the recipients of the 2020 Empire Whole Health Heroes awards which recognized him for his outstanding leadership in the pandemic helping to advance biomedical exploration and safeguard the well-being of New York City’s health care providers
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 with Steven Southwick and published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. Dr. Charney’s other books include Charney & Nestler’s Neurobiology of Mental Illness (Oxford University Press, USA, Fifth Edition, 2018); 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); and Resilience and Mental Health: Challenges Across the Lifespan (Cambridge University Press, 2011).