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, and depression and the discovery of new treatments for mood and anxiety disorders.
Since Dr. Charney was named Dean in 2007, the Icahn School of Medicine has risen to, and has maintained, its strength among the top 20 institutions in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. It currently ranks fifth 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. The Icahn School of Medicine is also consistently listed among the top 20 medical schools in the country according to U.S. News & World Report, and, in 2009, it received the Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
As the sole medical school affiliation for seven hospital campuses in the new 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 15 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 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 a nationally unique partnership between Mount Sinai and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, that is designed to pool Mount Sinai’s expertise in biomedical research and patient care with Rensselaer’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, a position he held from 1990 to 2000. While there, he chaired the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises the Institute’s Director on Intramural Research Programs. In 2000, NIMH recruited Dr. Charney to lead the Mood and Anxiety Disorder Research Program—one of the largest programs of its kind in the world—and the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch. That year, he was also elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. His scientific research has been honored by every major award in his field, and his work in 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.
Dr. Charney’s studies on human resilience have culminated in the identification of 10 key resilience factors for building the strength to weather and bounce back from stress and trauma. This work is 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.
In 2004, the Icahn School of Medicine recruited Dr. Charney 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 named President for Academic Affairs for the Health System.
A prolific author, Dr. Charney has written more than 700 publications, including groundbreaking scientific papers, chapters, and books. He has authored many books, including 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 Physicians Guide to Depression and Bipolar Disorders (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006); Resilience and Mental Health: Challenges Across the Lifespan (Cambridge University Press, 2011); and, as mentioned, Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, for lay audiences (Cambridge University Press, 2012).