John Csernansky, MD, former chair and Lizzie Gilman Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, has passed away.
John Csernansky, MD, former chair and Lizzie Gilman Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, whose career at Northwestern spanned nearly 15 years, passed away recently at age 68.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss,” said Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean. “John was a tremendous leader, a dedicated clinician and a brilliant scientist. He was a good friend to many, and he inspired our entire community. He will be deeply missed by everyone who ever had the pleasure of working with him.”
Csernansky joined the faculty of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in March of 2008, after serving as the Gregory B. Couch Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis for 18 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Northwestern in 1975, and received his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine before completing internship and residency training at Stanford University.
Csernansky’s research, which focused on in vivo neuroimaging of neuropsychiatric disorders, clinical trials of cognition-enhancing drugs, and the development of valid animal models for neuropsychiatric disorders, provided critical insight into disorders like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
He was the author of hundreds of peer-reviewed research publications and book chapters, including clinical trials of cognition-enhancing drugs, and the development of models for neuropsychiatric disorders.
During his more than a decade as chair, the department’s portfolio of research grants more than tripled, and the number of National Institutes of Health funding agencies that support the department’s research expanded greatly.
Csernansky oversaw the recruitment and retention of more than 50 regular faculty members as chair, while also deepening the department’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and noted that in terms of its faculty representation, the department is now among the most diverse departments at the medical school.
In terms of clinical care, the Department of Psychiatry saw its flow of outpatients more than triple during Csernansky’s tenure, and the department also developed and launched specialty clinical programs in Women’s Behavioral Health, Neuropsychiatry and Recovery from Psychosis.
Csernansky was a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a member and officer of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and a previous president of the Society of Biological Psychiatry. He served as a member of the scientific council of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, as an associate editor of Schizophrenia Bulletin, and on the editorial board of the journals Schizophrenia Research and Neuropsychopharmacology.
“This is a tragic loss for the department, the institution and our field. John had a deep dedication to his craft and was a vigorous advocate for training the next generation of psychiatrists and scientists in our field,” said Sachin Patel, MD, PhD, who recently succeeded Csernansky as chair and Lizzie Gilman Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Feinberg, and as psychiatrist-in-chief at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Norman and Ida Stone Institute of Psychiatry. “He was instrumental in the transformative change seen over the past decade and his contributions will define the future of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern.”
Csernansky is survived by his wife, Cynthia, and their son Matthew and daughter Julia. A memorial service honoring Csernansky’s life is currently being planned for the fall; details on timing and location will be forthcoming.