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Stephen M. Goldfinger MD, Steps Down as SUNY Downstate Chair of Psychiatry

Stephen M. Goldfinger, MD, will step down from his position as SUNY Downstate Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, his position since 2003, to serve as Chair Emeritus. The transition will occur when a new chair is selected by committee.

Dr. Goldfinger, a Brooklyn native, became interested in psychiatry while volunteering at SUNY Downstate at age 15. He went on to HarvardYale Medical School, and UCSF for psychiatric residency.

After earning his MD, Dr. Goldfinger joined the Tenderloin Clinic, a primary treatment site for San Francisco’s most severely ill and impoverished population.

His entire career – his “calling” – has been to serve the most disenfranchised and disaffiliated mentally ill individuals, working with the homeless, and those with HIV. Dr. Goldfinger also worked at San Francisco General Hospital, and was Clinical Director of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center while on faculty at Harvard Medical School. He came home to Downstate Medical Center in 1997 to serve as Vice-Chair, and Chair.

As a Chair at the only public medical school in New York City, Dr. Goldfinger felt it was essential to foster collaboration with other public programs and to train psychiatrists and medical students for a greater understanding of and commitment to public service. Dr. Goldfinger twice served as interim Residency Training Director.  

His perspective has been that promoting a “spirit of inquiry” is a critical function for educators. Now, every psychiatry resident is involved in research. Dr. Goldfinger created an additional chief resident position, the Chief Resident for Academics and Research. Due to Dr. Goldfinger’s leadership and innovation, the department now receives over 1,500 applications for its 12 annual training slots. Training sites were expanded to include Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, the Brooklyn VAKingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and Coney Island Hospital.

When Dr. Goldfinger arrived at Downstate, the number of research activities in Psychiatry was limited. Since then, research and research training at Downstate have blossomed. He brought clinical trials research back where there had been little or no funded research of this kind for a decade. Dr. Goldfinger also recruited established prominent investigators and committed the department to mentoring junior investigators. Since 2003, departmental research has grown so much, six faculty now have extramurally-funded contracts and grants exceeding $20 million in total awards.

Dr. Goldfinger’s leadership has been exemplary, and we are all indebted to him for his service, according to Dr. Douglas Lazzaro, Professor and ChairDepartment of Ophthalmology, and chair of the search committee. I extend my personal thanks, and I am grateful that Dr. Goldfinger will continue to serve as chair until a search for his successor has been completed.

Candidates for Chair are requested to submit statements of interest, their CV, and NIH biosketch, to Questions or comments regarding the search may be directed to or to search chair Dr. Doug Lazzaro.

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