Conference Advisory Committee

Dr. Ralph Aquila

Medical Director

Fountain House

Dr. Susan Azrin

Chief, Early Psychosis Prediction and Prevention Unit

National Institute of Mental Health

Dr. Gary Belkin

Executive Deputy Commissioner

New York City Department of

Health and Mental Hygiene

Dr. Sudipto Chatterjee

National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore

Dr. Gail Daumit

Professor of Medicine

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Ralph Aquila is the Medical Director of Fountain House and the Sidney R. Baer Jr. Center. Dr. Aquila and his team have been researching other medical co-morbidities since the early 1990s for the cause of premature death in persons with schizophrenia. He is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mt. Sinai. The Sidney R. Baer Jr. Center is the first integrated health home model in the U.S. for people living with mental illness. The Center that unifies medical and psychiatric healthcare with social supports.









Susan T. Azrin, Ph.D., is Unit Chief of the Early Psychosis Prediction and Prevention (EP3) program at the National Institute of Mental Health. She served as Government Project Officer for the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode-Early Treatment Program (RAISE-ETP), a pioneering study demonstrating the effectiveness of team-based coordinated specialty care for people with early psychosis in preventing disability and improving functioning, for which she received the NIH Director’s Award for Outstanding Service in 2013. Dr. Azrin also leads the NIMH research program on improving health and reducing premature mortality in people with severe mental illnesses, for which she was presented the NIMH Award for Significant Achievement in 2013. Dr. Azrin earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Maryland College Park.





Gary S Belkin is currently Executive Deputy Commissioner of Health-Mental Hygiene in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He was previously the Behavioral Health Medical Director of NYC Health + Hospitals, which operates the New York City 11 public hospitals, and was formerly Chief of Psychiatry (Interim) at Bellevue Hospital.

He brings extensive experience in day-to-day clinical operations and policy development in urban health delivery systems, as well as in developing and studying emerging approaches to public mental health and served as Associate Professor and Director, Program in Global Mental Health, New York University School of Medicine. He was founding Director of the NYU Program which was developed to advance innovative implementation and policy approaches to scale and improve population mental health strategies, as well as efforts to extend the impact of behavioral health sciences on other social sectors and outcomes. These efforts ranged from adapting mental health skills to the work of street-level gun violence interrupters in New York City, to designing task-shift based solutions to scaled integrated care for common mental disorders in rural Haiti.



Dr. Sudipto Chatterjee is a psychiatrist associated with NGOs Parivartan Trust and Sangath. He leads the Jan Man Swasthya and INCENSE programmes that work in various parts of India in developing innovative community mental health services. After finishing three years of working as a senior registrar at NIMHANS, Bangalore, Dr. Chatterjee moved to Barwani in Madhya Pradesh where he set up an innovative community mental health programme in extremely resource scarce settings that has subsequently been replicated in many other low-income countries in Asia and Africa. Subsequently, he has worked in various senior capacities in India and internationally including with the World Health Organization as a consultant and has helped design mental health services in India, and in other countries.








Dr. Gail Daumit is a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She holds a joint appointment in psychiatry and behavioral sciences. She also holds appointments in epidemiology, and health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her areas of clinical expertise include clinical trials, epidemiology and health services research. 

Dr. Daumit serves as the research director of the Division of General Internal Medicine and co-chair of the Institutional Review Board X at Johns Hopkins.

She earned her M.D. from Emory University School of Medicine. She completed her residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and performed a fellowship in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins, earning a M.H.S. in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Dr. Daumit’s research is devoted to improving overall health and decreasing premature mortality for people with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

Her work has been recognized with several honors. In 2013, she received the Society of General Internal Medicine’s Best Published Research Paper of the Year Award for “The Randomized Trial of Achieving Healthy Lifestyles in Psychiatric Rehabilitation.” In 2014, the same research paper won the 2014 Trial of the Year Award from the Society for Clinical Trials. She is a member of the Society of General Internal Medicine.

Lisa Dixon, M.D., M.P.H. is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University Medical Center and the director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services and Policy Research within the Department of Psychiatry. She also directs the Center for Practice Innovations (CPI) at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Dr. Dixon is an internationally recognized health services researcher with over 25 years of continuous funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the VA. As CPI director, she oversees activities for the New York State Office of Mental Health in implementing evidenced based practices for persons diagnosed with serious mental illness. She is leading the innovative program, OnTrackNY, a statewide initiative designed to improve outcomes and reduce disability for the population of individuals experiencing their first episode of psychosis.

Dr. Dixon's grants have focused on improving the quality of care for individuals with serious mental disorders with a particular emphasis on services that include families, reducing the negative impact of co-occurring addictions and medical problems, and improving treatment engagement and adherence. Dr. Dixon's work has joined individuals engaged in self-help, outpatient psychiatric care, as well as clinicians and policy makers in collaborative research endeavors. In addition, Dr. Dixon is the current editor of a column in Psychiatric Services dedicated to Public-Academic partnerships.


Betty Eastland, MSW is a graduate of Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work with a focus on Community Organizing, Planning and Development and a concentration in Health and Mental Health. As an advocate for individuals and communities impacted by serious mental illness, Betty has helped people return to school and employment, and reach their full potential. She has developed programming to help young adults with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
integrate into society and live healthy, meaningful lives. She has also designed programming for older adults to overcome isolation that stems from trauma and mental illness. Betty was an active Member of the Board of Directors of Fountain House and an active participant in Fountain House’s External Affairs Committee and Council on Education, Training and Advocacy. She has spoken nationally about the Fountain House Clubhouse Model at conferences and seminars, and was the acceptance speaker at the 2014 Hilton Humanitarian Prize Ceremony.


Dr. Abe Fekadu is a Clinical Professor of Global Mental Health and Head of the World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence in Therapeutic Discovery (CDT-Africa) at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, where the BSMS is a knowledge partner. Abe is also an African Research Leader (the Medical Research Council/DfID, UK) and fellow of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences. In addition, he serves on various committees and advisory boards, including WHO, Lancet Commission and Journal editorial boards. Abe graduated in Medicine from Addis Ababa University and trained in Clinical Psychiatry in Cardiff and at the Maudsley (UK). He has obtained a certificate in clinical psychopharmacology (British Association for Psychopharmacology, UK), MSc degree (Cardiff University) and PhD (Umea University). His research interests are in clinical trials, complex interventions, mood disorders and knowledge translation. 

Abe leads several clinical trial and complex intervention studies. CDT-Africa, a World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence that he leads supports both capacity building and research in drug, vaccine, diagnostic and complex intervention studies. The PRIME-Ethiopia project that he also leads has made mental healthcare accessible to 180,000 people of the Sodo District in south Ethiopia. This service is being scaled up to the whole of the Gurage Zone, a population of nearly 1.5 million. Abe has been part of the Butajira project on severe mental disorders (SMD) since its inception 20 years ago. This project is the largest single site prospective study of severe mental disorders in any low and middle-income country. Abe has also led the development of research instruments, including the Maudsley Staging Method, which is considered to be the leading multidimensional staging method for treatment-resistant depression at present. He has been recently granted the African Research Leader award. As part of this award, Abe will be exploring approaches to improve detection of depression in Ethiopia. Abe has been part of over 15 projects since 2010, with a total grant of over $30 million and has published more than 100 articles. 

Helen Herrman is a psychiatrist and public health physician. She is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Research at Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and the Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne; and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health in Melbourne. She is an NHMRC Practitioner Fellow, and Honorary Fellow of the World Psychiatric Association. 
Helen is also President-Elect of the Pacific Rim College of Psychiatrists, and Vice President of the International Association of Women’s Mental Health. In 2013, Helen was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.
From 1992 to 2005, Helen was Professor and Director of Psychiatry in St Vincent’s Health Melbourne and The University of Melbourne, with responsibility for the clinical services and academic programs at SVH during development of an integrated community mental health service within Australia’s national reform of mental health. 
In 2001-2002 she acted as regional adviser in mental health for WHO’s Western Pacific Region. 
Her research program focuses on clinical and social psychiatry. 

  • She leads a new research program on improving mental health for young people in out-of-home care

  • She is involved currently in several other research programs including youth, technology and mental health, and depression in primary healthcare 

Dévora Kestel is a senior mental health policy specialist at PAHO/WHO and 

obtained her MSc in Psychology from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, in Argentina and her MSc in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK. After completing her university studies in Argentina she worked for 10 years in the development and supervision of community-based mental health services in Trieste, Italy. In 2000, she joined WHO as a mental health officer first in Kosovo and then in Albania where she became the WHO Representative to Albania. In both countries, she worked closely with the Ministries of Health to help establish comprehensive community-based mental health systems. In 2007, Ms. Kestel joined PAHO as the Sub-regional Mental Health Advisor for the English Speaking Caribbean Countries, based in Barbados. In 2011 Ms. Kestel was appointed to the position of the Regional Mental Health Advisor, at the headquarters in Washington DC, providing technical cooperation in the mental health field to the entire region. In 2015, she became the Unit Chief for Mental Health and Substance Use at PAHO/WHO. 




Kathleen Pike is on faculty in the Departments of Psychiatry, Epidemiology and Psychology at Columbia University where she serves as Director and Scientific Co-Director of the Global Mental Health Program. As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Pike works globally examining risk factors for mental illness and has lead diverse initiatives to reduce stigma associated with mental disorder as well as clinical training and education to expand capacity in evidence supported psychotherapy for mental disorders.

Dr. Pike has held academic and administrative university appointments in both the United States and Japan and is recognized internationally for her work in the area of eating disorders. She currently serves on the editorial board for three journals in the field of eating disorders and is on the Board of Directors for the World Federation for Mental Health. She is the founding chair of the US-TELL Foundation and for over a decade she served as vice-chair of the Board of Directors for TELL in Japan, the only accredited mental health center dedicated to serving the needs of the international community in Japan. She also served as vice chair of the Asian University for Women Support Foundation Board of Directors, launching the first residential liberal arts college for women in Bangladesh that draws students from across South and Southeast Asia. 

Dr. Pike earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Johns Hopkins University and her doctoral degree at Yale University.





Harold Alan Pincus, M.D. is Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and Director of Quality and Outcomes Research at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Associate Director of Columbia's Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. Dr. Pincus also serves as a Senior Scientist at the RAND Corporation. Previously he was Director of the RAND-University of Pittsburgh Health Institute and Executive Vice Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, where he still maintains an adjunct professorship. He is the National Director of the Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program (funded by Atlantic Philanthropies), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's National Program on Depression in Primary Care: Linking Clinical and Systems Strategies and the John A. Hartford Foundation's national program on Building Interdisciplinary Geriatric Research Centers. Dr. Pincus has also served as the Deputy Medical Director of the American Psychiatric Association and the founding director of APA's Office of Research and Executive Director of the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education. Prior to joining the APA, he was the Special Assistant to the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health.






Thara Rangaswamy is a psychiatrist, co- founder and director of a non- profit organisation in Chennai, India called the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF). SCARF is a collaborating centre of the WHO for mental health research and training. Thara has been associated closely with WHO and NIMH. She has been responsible for influencing policy related to mental disability in India and pioneered the use of mobile tele-psychiatry in rural south India. She has also forged research links with leading academic centers in the world, is PI of many research projects, has over 130 research publications and has used research to improve patient care in her centre.




Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (MSD) at WHO’s Headquarters Office, is the joint leader of the Mental Health Innovation Network. Dr. Saxena is a psychiatrist with about 30 years of experience in research and program management, service delivery and information systems in the areas of mental health, especially in low and middle income countries. He was one of the writers of the World Health Report 2001 on mental health and an editor and author in the Lancet Series on Global Mental Health 2007 and the Lancet Series on Global Mental Health 2011. He led WHO's Mental Health Atlas and WHO Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS), which have been used in more than 80 countries, and is responsible for implementation of WHO's mental health Gap Action Program on scaling up care for mental, neurological and substance use disorders in low and middle income countries. His current responsibilities include implementing the WHO Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020.






Ezra S. Susser, MD, DrPH, is the Director of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training program. His research focuses on two main areas. One is examining the role of early life experience in health and disease throughout the life course. He heads the Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies, which fosters collaborative research and intellectual exchange among investigators studying developmental origins in birth cohorts across the globe. As one example, the findings from a series of studies have suggested that exposure to famine in early gestation is associated with increased schizophrenia among offspring. The other is global mental health. He is a co-founder of the Global Mental Health Program at Columbia. Much of Dr. Susser's early work focused on the course of schizophrenia and especially on social outcomes. In his early research career he was involved in follow-up studies of psychoses in the United States and across the globe, including the WHO International Study of Schizophrenia. He also conducted studies of homelessness and its prevention among patients with schizophrenia. This work included the development and testing of the initial version of Critical Time Intervention (CTI) for prevention of recurrent homelessness. Currently CTI is being adapted for use in low and middle income countries, and a version is being piloted for a regional trial across three countries in Latin America. Dr. Susser is also involved in work on schizophrenia in other regions, for example, in South Africa he and colleagues are laying the groundwork for the first study of the incidence of psychoses in Africa, and have undertaken the first large study of genetics of schizophrenia in a population of African ancestry. Dr. Susser is an editor of the International Journal of Epidemiology, lead author of the main textbook on psychiatric epidemiology, and former chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health (1999-2008).





Ginger Smith-Swintosky is the Mental Health Global Program Leader for Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health.  She leads a diverse cross-functional team accountable for defining and implementing an overarching strategy and aspiration for a global interventional program in mental health in resource limited settings addressable by J&J products, capabilities and technologies.  She currently leads a project focused on partnering with local stakeholders to develop an affordable quality care model for the treatment of schizophrenia as a proof-of-concept in Rwanda that can be scaled to other sub-Saharan countries.


Ginger is a neurobiologist with 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical R&D and business development.  Prior to joining J&J GPH, she held leadership positions in drug discovery, early clinical research and corporate business development.  She has led several compounds from the bench into the clinic and has authored over 70 papers, abstracts and book chapters and holds 26 patents in the field of neuroscience.  Ginger received her Ph.D. in Biopsychology (Neuroscience) from the University of Delaware and completed post-doctoral studies at the Sanders-Brown Research Center on Aging and the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center.







Sir Graham Thornicroft MBBS MA MSc PhD FRCPsych FMedSci is a British psychiatrist, researcher and professor of community psychiatry at King's College London best known for his work on global mental health and stigma and discrimination against people with mental illness. He is the Founding Head of the Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's, Founding member of the Movement for Global Mental Health, a network of 200 institutions and 10,000 individuals actively involved in improving services for people living with mental health problems and psycho-social disabilities worldwide, especially in low-and middle-income countries, Director of the King's Improvement Science, Co-Founder of The INDIGO Network, an international collaboration of researchers working to assess the global impact of discrimination against people with mental illness, Director of the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in South London. Thornicroft was made a knight bachelor in the 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours for services to mental health.

Dr. Lisa Dixon

Professor of Psychiatry

Columbia University

Betty Eastland

Dr. Abe Fekadu

Professor of Global Mental Health & Head, CDT-Africa

(Centre for Innovative Drug Development and Therapeutic Trials

for Africa)

Addis Ababa University 

Dr. Helen Herrman


World Psychiatric Association

Dr. Kathleen Pike

Director & Scientific

Co-Director of the Global Mental Health Program

Columbia University

Dr. Thara Rangaswamy

Co-Founder & Director

Schizophrenia Research Foundation

Dr. Shekhar Saxena 

Visiting Professor

Harvard University

T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Sir Graham Thornicroft

Professor of Community Psychiatry

King's College London

Dr. Harold Pincus

Vice Chair

Department of Psychiatry

Columbia University's College

of Physicians & Surgeons

Dr. Ezra Susser

Director, Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program

Columbia University

Devora Kestal
Senior Mental Health Policy Specialist

Virginia Smith-Swintosky, PhD

Mental Health Global Program Leader

Johnson & Johnson

Global Public Health

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