Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, MD
Professor of Psychiatry
Director, New York State Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence,
New York State Psychiatric Institute
Director, Hispanic Treatment Program,
New York State Psychiatric Institute
Dr. Roberto Lewis-Fernandez is Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and Director of the New York State (NYS) Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence and the Hispanic Treatment Program at NYS Psychiatric Institute. He is also Lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard University.
Dr. Lewis-Fernandez’s research focuses on developing clinical interventions and novel service-delivery approaches to help overcome disparities in the care of underserved cultural groups. His work centers on improving treatment engagement and retention in mental health and physical health care by persons with anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and other serious mental illnesses. He also studies the way culture affects individuals’ experience of mental disorder and their help-seeking expectations, including how to explore this cultural variation during the psychiatric evaluation. He led the development of the DSM-5 Cultural Formulation Interview, a standardized method for cultural assessment for use in mental health practice, and the Principal Investigator of its international field trial, conducted in Canada, India, Kenya, the Netherlands, Peru, and the United States. Dr. Lewis-Fernandez’s research has been funded by US federal and state agencies as well as private foundations. He has published over 140 articles, editorials, commentaries, books, and book chapters on the topic of cultural mental health.
He is the chair of the Cultural Committee of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, President of the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture, Immediate Past President of the American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry, Board Member of the World Association of Cultural Psychiatry, and a member of the Community Services Board and the Health and Mental Hygiene Advisory Council of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He was until recently a member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health, a member of the DSM-5 Anxiety Disorders Work Group, and the chair of the Cross-Cultural Issues Subgroup of the Gender and Culture Study Group of the DSM-5 Task Force. He has received numerous awards, including the NAMI Exemplary Psychiatrist Award, the Rafael Tavarez, MD Memorial Award (Association of Hispanic Mental Health Professionals), the Herbert Spiegel, MD Award (Columbia University Department of Psychiatry), the Luke and Grace Kim Visiting Professorship (University of California, Davis Department of Psychiatry), the Simón Bolívar Award (American Psychiatric Association) and the Creative Scholarship Award (Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture).
Dr. Lewis-Fernandez was educated at Harvard College, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Medical School. He trained in psychiatry at The Cambridge Hospital (1986-90) and completed a Dupont-Warren psychiatric research fellowship (1990-91) and an NIMH-sponsored fellowship in clinically applied medical anthropology (1991-93) at Harvard Medical School.
Undergraduate: Harvard College, BA, 1975-1979
Graduate: Harvard Divinity School, Master of Theological Studies, 1980-1982
Medical School: Yale Medical School, MD, 1982-1986
Internship: The Cambridge Hospital, Combined program, 1986-1987
Residency: The Cambridge Hospital, Psychiatry, 1987-1990
Fellowship: Harvard Medical School, Dupont-Warren Fellowship and NIMH Fellowship in Clinically Applied Medical Anthropology, 1990-1993
Board Certifications: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
• Cultural Psychiatry
• Health Services Research
• Anxiety Disorders
NYS Psychiatric Institute
Room 3206 Unit/Box:69
1051 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10032
Dr. Lewis-Fernandez's research focuses on developing clinical interventions and novel service-delivery approaches to help overcome disparities in the care of underserved US cultural groups. His work centers on improving treatment engagement and retention in mental health and physical health care by persons with anxiety, depression, and other serious mental illnesses. He also studies the way culture affects individuals' experience of mental disorder and their help-seeking expectations, including how to explore this cultural variation during the psychiatric evaluation.
To see a summary of his work, please visit:
Center for Excellence in Cultural Competence
Hispanic Treatment Program
1. Lewis-Fernandez R, Aggarwal NK, Baarnhielm B et al.: Culture and psychiatric evaluation: Operationalizing cultural formulation for DSM-5. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes 2014;77: 130-154
2. Lewis-Fernandez R, Balan IC, Patel SR: Impact of motivational pharmacotherapy on treatment retention among depressed Latinos. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes 2013;76: 210-222
3. Lewis-Fernandez R, Guarnaccia PJ, Ruiz P: Culture-bound syndromes, in Kaplan & Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, New York, NY, USA, 2009
4. Alcantara C, Casement M, Lewis-Fernandez R: Conditional risk for PTSD among Latinos: A systematic review of racial/ethnic differences and sociocultural explanations. Clinical Psychology Review 2013;33: 107-119
5. Lewis-Fernandez R, Hinton DE, Laria AJ: Culture and the anxiety disorders: Recommendations for DSM-V. Depression and Anxiety 2010;27: 212-229