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Ronald Cowan, MD, PhD, Named Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at UTHSC

Dr. Ronald Cowan

Scott Strome, MD, executive dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has named Ronald Cowan, MD, PhD, Harrison Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. He will begin his new role at UTHSC in July.

Dr. Cowan has served as a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine for the last six years, along with secondary appointments with the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University.

As chair, Dr. Cowan will oversee all activity in the department to ensure the goals and objectives of the department are met, including developing the vision of growth for both the clinical and academic aspects of the department. “I am delighted that we have recruited Dr. Cowan as our next chair of the Department of Psychiatry. He will build on the excellent foundation laid over the last 12 years by our current chair, Dr. James Greene,” Dr. Strome said. “Dr. Cowan has the clinical, research, and educational expertise to considerably expand the scope of all three of these missions. It is an exciting time for Psychiatry at UTHSC.”

Dr. Cowan has close to 20 years of funded research, primarily focusing on neuroimaging, depression, drug abuse, and pain processing in aging and dementia. He is currently the principal investigator on two National Institute on Aging (NIA) grants.

Dr. Cowan has served as the director of the Residency Training Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences for the past six years, as well as an attending psychiatrist for the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital for the past 18 years.

“It is a great honor to be chosen to lead the Department of Psychiatry at UTHSC. I am excited to have the opportunity to work closely with Dean Strome, senior leadership, and psychiatry faculty to continue the department’s strong tradition of excellence in teaching and clinical care while growing the research, clinical, and teaching missions,” Dr. Cowan said. “Working collaboratively with the outstanding research and clinical infrastructure at UTHSC, the department is well-positioned to become a leader in psychiatric treatment and research.”

Dr. Cowan grew up in West Tennessee and obtained his undergraduate degree in biology from Christian Brothers University. He earned a PhD in neuroscience in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at UTHSC in 1990, as well as his medical degree from Weil Cornell University Medical College in New York City in 1994. He completed his internship in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston and his residency in general adult psychiatry at the McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Belmont and Boston.

He has authored or co-authored over 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Synapse, the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, and the Journal of Neuroscience. Dr. Cowan currently serves on the editorial board of Synapse, and formerly served on the editorial board of the Journal of Addiction.