Kenneth L. Davis, MD, was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System in September 2013. For the decade prior to that, he served as President and CEO of The Mount Sinai Medical Center and during his tenure, he and Peter W. May, Chairman of the Boards of Trustees, launched what has been characterized as one of the largest financial turnarounds in academic medicine. The Medical Center grew in both scope and ambition, entering a new era of innovation in collaborative research, education, and clinical care.
A Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dr. Davis received his bachelor’s degree from Yale College, from which he graduated magna cum laude and phi beta kappa. He received his medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and was valedictorian. He completed an internship, residency, and fellowship in psychiatry and pharmacology, respectively, at Stanford University Medical Center, and thereafter won a career development award from the Veterans Administration to pursue his research in cholinergic mechanisms and neuropsychiatric diseases.
In 1979, Dr. Davis joined the faculty at Mount Sinai, becoming Chief of Psychiatry at the Bronx Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center. He spearheaded Mount Sinai’s research program in the biology of schizophrenia and the therapeutics of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and directed Mount Sinai’s National Institute on Aging (NIA)-supported Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center from 1984 through 2002. His work focused on all aspects of experimental therapeutics, including animal models, assessment instruments, and design issues in drug testing. As early as 1978, he first suggested that cholinomimetic therapy could be useful for the treatment of AD, and shortly thereafter conducted the first positive proof of concept study with cholinesterase inhibitors in this disease. Subsequently, he coordinated the first multicenter NIA-funded trial of tacrine. This groundbreaking work eventually led to the discovery, development, and approval of the drugs used for AD today. In 1987 he was appointed Chairman of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Dr. Davis also directed the NIMH-funded Silvio O. Conte Center for the Neurosciences of Mental Disorders. This multimillion-dollar Center focuses on schizophrenia and is based on the premise that white matter, oligodendrocytes, and myelin may be compromised in schizophrenia. It has opened an entirely new approach to this devastating disease. Over the course of his career, he has received tens of millions of dollars of NIH grants to study major brain diseases.
The author or co-author of more than 575 scientific articles, Dr. Davis has been recognized by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the most highly cited researchers in the field of brain diseases. Dr. Davis is a member of the editorial boards of numerous journals, and has won virtually every major research award in psychiatric research from the major societies in this field.
He has had the privilege of serving terms as President to the Society of Biological Psychiatry and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, as well as Chairman of the Board for the Greater New York Hospital Association, and the League of Voluntary Hospitals & Homes of New York.
In addition to his election to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, among his many other honors are the George H.W. Bush ’48 Lifetime of Leadership Award—a distinction given to Yale alumni athletes who make significant breakthroughs in their professions, the Rita Hayworth Award from the Alzheimer’s Association, the Kempf Fund Award for Research Development in Psychobiological Psychiatry from the American Psychiatric Association, the Gold Medal Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry for Outstanding Achievement in Psychobiological Research, the American Psychiatric Association Award for Research in Psychiatry, the Joel Elkes International Award given by ACNP for outstanding research in neuropsycho-pharmacology, and numerous others.
In January 2003 he was appointed Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, as it was then called, and in March 2003 he assumed the additional position of President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. In 2007, Dr. Davis named a new Dean for the School of Medicine.
When Dr. Davis was named President and CEO, Mount Sinai was threatened with bankruptcy and the cash account was barely adequate to make payroll. The plan he developed focused on growth rather than cost reduction, contradicting the path offered by the consultants who were advising Mount Sinai at that time. The Boards of Trustees of Mount Sinai endorsed Dr. Davis’s plan. Today, Mount Sinai has an A-category status from all bond-rating agencies and for the past several years, the Hospital has ranked among the best in the country. The School of Medicine, which had previously ranked in mid-40s nationally, quickly accelerated in the rankings to reach the top 20.
Building on these achievements, Dr. Davis led a philanthropic campaign that reached its goal of $1.6 billion, fueling a nearly $200 million gift from Carl C. Icahn, a longtime supporter and Trustee, which renamed the School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Given these achievements, Senate and House members and staffers call upon Dr. Davis to advise on health care matters, and print and television journalists invite him to discuss issues and advancements in science and medicine. His prominence in these areas of science, medicine, and health care reform were showcased at the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival in three sessions including a panel entitled “Can We Afford Our Health?” together with Peter Orszag, PhD, former Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget under President Barack Obama, and Robert Rubin, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton.
The success of The Mount Sinai Medical Center served as the fundamental basis for Mount Sinai and Continuum Health Partners' combined entity. This new entity is one of the largest nonprofit systems in the country with $7 billion in revenue; 36,000 employees; seven hospital campuses; and an extensive ambulatory platform.