SUNY Downstate's Dr. Ramaswamy Viswanathan Named as President of The American Psychiatric Association

By Office of Communications & Marketing | May 13, 2024

BROOKLYN, NY – SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University today announced that Ramaswamy Viswanathan, M.D., Dr.Med.Sc., a longtime advocate for mental health, medical educator, and clinician-researcher, has been named president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). He is the first person in Brooklyn and the first SUNY faculty to be elected to this position in the APA’s 182-year history. The APA is the world’s largest psychiatric professional organization with nearly 39000 members.

Dr. Viswanathan currently serves as Professor and Interim Chair of Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, where he also directs the Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry Service and its Fellowship Program. He is board-certified in psychiatry, internal medicine, consultation-liaison psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. Dr. Viswanathan’s research has focused on communication, medical ethics, and treatment adherence, but also extends to substance use, HIV, innovations in psychotherapy, and more.

“I am grateful for the trust my fellow APA members have placed in me by electing me to help lead our organization,” said Dr. Viswanathan. “This is a great opportunity to highlight and advance the practice of psychiatry impacting the mental health of countless individuals, and to serve as an inspiration to those seeking to enter the field. I am excited about the year ahead, and look forward to working closely with colleagues at APA and around the globe to affirm APA’s role as a leading voice in psychiatry.”

As the 2024-2025 APA President, Dr. Viswanathan’s priorities are to:

  • Focus on lifestyle interventions for positive mental and physical health through a holistic approach to wellness, including exercise, nutrition, sleep, social connectedness, stress reduction, and avoidance of risky behaviors. They will be promoted in conjunction with other treatment modalities such as psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and neural stimulation.
  • Promote education, research, appropriate use of technology including AI.
  • Address practice burden, workforce issues, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Continue his existing legislative push for parity in mental health and access to care.
  • Elevate the voice of psychiatry in America on issues such as the youth mental health crisis, social determinants of health and climate change.

Born in India, Dr. Viswanathan immigrated to the U.S. after attaining his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree at Madras Medical College at the University of Madras; he then completed a Doctor of Medical Science degree at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center.

Dr. Viswanathan is the 2016 winner of the APA’s George Tarjan Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Integration of International Medical Graduates into American Psychiatry, and an APA Distinguished Life Fellow. In 2018, he received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service. Dr. Viswanathan was Presiding Officer of the Faculty and Professional Staff of the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate from 2020-2022 and is currently a senator from SUNY Downstate to the SUNY Faculty Senate. He is Founding Co-Chair of the Faculty Wellness Group of the College of Medicine.



About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn is one of four academic health centers (AMCs) in The State University of New York (SUNY) 64-campus system and the only SUNY AMC in New York City dedicated to health education, research, and patient care for the borough’s 2.7 million residents. Its flagship hospital, University Hospital at Downstate (UHD), is a teaching hospital and benefits from the expertise of Downstate’s exceptional medical school and world-class academic center research facilities. With a staff of over 800 physicians representing 53 specialties and subspecialties, Downstate offers comprehensive healthcare services to the community.

UHD provides high-risk neonatal and infant services, pediatric nephrology, and dialysis for kidney diseases and is the only kidney transplantation program in Brooklyn. Beyond its clinical expertise, Downstate houses a range of esteemed educational institutions, including its College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, School of Graduate Studies, and School of Public Health. Downstate fosters innovation through its multifaceted biotechnology initiative, the Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT, which support early-stage and more mature biotech companies.