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About Us

Rochester Psychiatry strives to be an international leader in clinical care, community service, education, and research. Our institution pioneered the biopsychological model of health and illness, which is at the core of all training programs in psychiatry.

Our vision is to develop an innovative clinical department offering outpatient and inpatient care with a four-fold mission: clinical care, education, service, and research.

Ben Lee
Hochang B. Lee, MD, Department Chair


As a Department of permeable boundaries across missions, disciplines, and care settings, we strive to be an innovative model of academic psychiatry providing team-based, humanistic care driven by cutting-edge science and education excellence.

Ben Lee, Michael Scharf, Courtney Blackwood talking at a table


Upholding the spirit of the biopsychosocial model,collaboration, communication, complementarity, competence, and compassion are foundational values for how we work together to advocate and support our vulnerable patients through our clinical care, education, and research.

Psychiatry leadership members


We provide high-quality, compassionate behavioral healthcare in the Finger Lakes community, powered by our world-class researchers, teachers, and clinicians.

woman pointing to area on a map

Strategic Intent

  • Provide innovative, integrated care models that deliver cost-effective, high-quality behavioral health services.
  • Advocate and deliver quality behavioral health services in our community, assist doctors in treating vulnerable populations, and strengthen ongoing educational and research partnerships with community organizations.
  • Prepare future leaders in value-based healthcare and translational science by promoting collaboration, communication, complementarity, competence, and compassion.
  • Expand the department’s expertise in clinical epidemiology and prevention studies.

Download Strategic Plan Brochure

Strategic Plan Brochure cover

Strategic Goals



Deliver exceptional patient-centered, evidence-based care locally and regionally.



Integrate research programs into existing clinical programs to improve clinical decision-making and outcomes.



Foster interprofessional learning by training a diverse and community-centered team.



Advance an equitable and inclusive culture that attracts and retains top faculty, staff, and students.



Enhance faculty, staff, and learner wellness and resilience.



Develop the next generation of leaders in behavioral health. 

Guided by the 5 Cs - Collaboration, Communication, Complementarity, Competence & Compassion

George EngelFor the key to optimal patient care is collaboration, communication and complementarity among all branches of the health professions…To buttress collaboration, communication, and complementarity, the fourth indispensable attribute of health care professionals must be competence.

 ~ George L. Engel, MD, creator of the biopsychosocial model

The Department of Psychiatry follows the 5 Cs Guide to ensure we provide the highest level of care. We strive to be a compassionate organization for our patients, staff, and each other to carry out the spirit of the biopsychosocial model. Compassion was added as the fifth “C”. Compassion involves allowing ourselves to be moved by suffering and experiencing the motivation to help alleviate and prevent it.

Biopsychosocial Model 

The Department of Psychiatry at University of Rochester Medical Center has had a long and distinguished history since John Romano and George Engel founded the Department in 1945. Our department is the birthplace of the "Biopsychosocial Model of Medical Illness" that serves as the cornerstone of education and training of students and trainees across the field of psychiatry. With the biopsychosocial model as the core organizing principle, we strive together to develop the Rochester model of psychiatry as the international leader in clinical care, community service, education, and research in psychiatry. 

Engel, G. L. (1979). The biopsychosocial model and the education of health professionals. General hospital psychiatry1(2), 156-165.

Psychiatry with Permeable Boundaries

On June 5th, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, members of the Department of Psychiatry participated in the White Coats for Black Lives demonstrations in several URMC locations, kneeling for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in remembrance and protest of the murder of George Floyd. Depicted here is the socially distanced demonstration at the Brighton Health Campus, where we provide integrated services for adults and young adults with serious mental illness, addiction disorders, or both.

Demonstration in front of buildingIn 1977, when biomedical reductionism was rampant, George Engel at the University of Rochester wrote that human illness is a complex interaction among biological, psychological, and social factors. Current events remind us that we are more than cells and tissues. We are social and spiritual beings connected to one another in more ways than one can imagine. Racism, too, is a form of reductionism that diminishes our humanity based on the color of our skin. Here in the Department of Psychiatry, we stand against all forms of dehumanizing reductionism and strive to be accessible to all regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, marital status, age, physical abilities, political affiliation, or religious beliefs.

The Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, & Equity (DICE) within the Department of Psychiatry aims to foster a culture of respect and promote a healthy work environment. This is achieved through collaborative learning, dialogue, and positive role modeling.