Dr. Lewis-Fernández is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University 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-Fernández’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. Dr. Lewis-Fernández’s research has been funded by US federal and state agencies as well as private foundations. He has published over 80 articles and chapters on his areas of research.
He is a member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the chair of the Cultural Psychiatry Committee of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, a member of the Anxiety Disorders Work Group and the chair of the Culture Subgroup of the Gender and Culture Study Group of the DSM-5 Task Force, and a member of the Community Services Board of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Dr. Lewis-Fernández 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. From 1993 to 1995, Dr. Lewis-Fernández worked for the Puerto Rico Health Department implementing an innovative mental health consultation-liaison program for rural primary care clinics.