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SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Department of Psychiatry

photo of Stephen Goldfinger

Stephen M. Goldfinger, MD
Professor and Chair
Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Chairs Message

"In order to cure the human body, it is necessary to have knowledge of the whole of things."


The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at SUNY Downstate is among the largest and most diverse in the country. As the only public medical school Department of Psychiatry in New York City, and the only University Department of Psychiatry in Brooklyn, New York's most populous borough, we have a complex, multidimensional mission.

The range of clinical services with in the department runs from evaluating impaired neonates to providing outreach services to individuals with Alzheimer's living in nursing homes; from operating comprehensive psychiatric Emergency services to clinical outreach to homeless shelters. Residents in our program are exposed to City, State and private hospital sites, to the court system, specialized veteran from groups, long-term/short-term/supportive psychotherapy teaching units, inpatient and outpatient geriatric, forensic, and other specialized treatment populations.

The department supports an extensive array of research activities many of which serve as training sites for both postgraduate medical student education. The Henri Begleiter Neurodynamics lab is one of the most highly funded, long-standing and internationally respected research sites in New York. Our primate laboratory, clinical trials, consulting services, and a geriatric program with an enormous database on elderly individuals living in the community serve as just a few of the many examples of both basic and applied research activities.

I believe that the Downstate Department of Psychiatry is one of the most education-focus academic departments in the United States. Senior faculty are available to undergraduate medical students and residents. Downstate medical students voted our Director of Medical Student Education, Thomas Brouette, "teacher of the year" and have dedicated this year's Yearbook to him. Residents in the department are all involved in research, presenting at many national psychiatric and subspecialty conferences, serving as reviewers for many major national journals, and having their manuscripts widely accepted for publication. Virtually all our residents consistently move on to the most highly correlated fellowships in the country.

However, even in this era of outcome driven data, I believe that it is the process of education in our department that is particularly noteworthy. Personally, I was 12 years old when I first set foot in the department, trailing a family member who was Department of Psychiatry faculty. I began working in this department during the summers of my 15th and 16th year and it shaped my own interest and investment in the field. Thirty years later, I left a position running the public psychiatry services at Harvard Medical School to return to my "home". This sense of the department as 'home' seems pervasive. Members of the faculty and residents largely view each other as "family". We learn together, work together, and sometimes struggle together. We also dance together, play together, and share our personal lives, views, and world. This in a department encompassing individuals from five continents and over forty countries!

Psychiatry and neuroscience in many ways are the last frontiers for scientific discovery and intellectual stimulation. Mental healthcare is also one of the most critical and necessary areas needing clinical intervention. Affect and anxiety disorders are among the most crippling, and pervasive health issues in the country. The excitement-- both in terms of learning from, and serving what are often the most disaffiliated and disenfranchised populations – energizes our faculty and our trainees. I hope as you explore this website further you'll come to recognize the depth, breadth, fulfillment and enthusiasm our work provides.