Message from the Chair

THE EVENTS OF the past year have marked all of us, and it has been my privilege to serve as the Chair of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, as we work to combat COVID-19 and its mental health consequences. I am incredibly proud of the way our department attended to the mental health needs of the Mount Sinai Health System’s 42,000 employees and to the needs of New York City, as rates of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse increased.

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As a response to COVID-19, we created a Center for Stress, Resilience, and Personal Growth to provide mental health services to our staff, faculty, students, and trainees. Services include individualized assessments, planning, and coaching; resiliency workshops; and treatment referrals. We also established an on-the-ground mental health liaison program to proactively help our frontline workers with psychological issues. This program was made up entirely of volunteer faculty, social workers, and residents who displayed enormous strength of character while sacrificing their time and energy.

To provide support to our New York City community we quickly adapted to telehealth. Our patient data show unprecedented volume during this time, as psychiatry lends itself effectively to telehealth. We were fortunate to have a nimble, caring team that went above and beyond to provide emotional support to established patients, in addition to the new ones needing help dealing with the emotional fallout from the pandemic.

Despite this year’s challenges, our faculty and clinicians have been exceptionally productive. In 2020, our faculty published 789 articles that received more than 3,000 citations. Five new research faculty members joined the department and 126 faculty members applied for grant funding.

In 2020, we ranked No. 5 in National Institutes of Health funding for psychiatry. Thirty-six percent of all submitted grants were funded, and with more than 200 active grants our total portfolio hit $52 million.

We continue to recruit superb residents. Our physician-scientist track had another successful year, and with our R25 grant renewal we further strengthened our unique combined residency-PhD program. We also established a newly funded T32 postdoctoral research fellowship in psychiatry to train a new generation of clinical neuroscientists.  

In other news, our department is creating a one-of-a-kind comprehensive behavioral health center in downtown Manhattan, which consolidates all of our downtown behavioral health services and adds critical new services. This one-stop facility will offer treatment for mental health, including substance use, and provide for the physical health and social service needs of our downtown community. This represents the largest private investment in behavioral health in New York State’s history. The center is scheduled to open in 2022.

We are proud of our department’s continued expansion and achievements and look forward to what this decade will bring. Please feel free to contact me directly at or connect with me on Doximity. I would be happy to talk with you about our current programs and future directions.




René S. Kahn, MD, PhD

René S. Kahn, MD, PhD

Esther and Joseph Klingenstein Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health