Top psychologist to lead new behavioral-health center

Oh, behave: Veteran psychologist Karina Davidson, a renowned expert in the effects of psychological and social behaviors on chronic-disease management, will head a new Feinstein Institute research center.

A highly credentialed expert in the psychological and social risk factors influencing cardiovascular disease will head the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research’s new behavioral-health center.

Karina Davidson, most recently a vice-dean at Columbia University and chief academic officer of New York Presbyterian Hospital, will lead the Manhattan-based center, which will explore how behavior affects management of chronic cardiovascular diseases.

Linking behavioral and cardiovascular health is second nature to Davidson, whose research focuses on the relationship between psychosocial risk factors and the course and outcome of cardiovascular disease. Essentially, the psychologist researches precise therapies that might improve patient symptoms, conditions or behaviors.

The frequent lecturer, award-winner and fellow – Davidson has been elected to the fellowships of the New York Academy of Medicine, the Society of Behavioral Medicine and other prestigious academic organizations – has been the principal investigator of more than 22 federally funded grants.

Thomas McGinn: Breadth-taking.

And she’s authored more than 200 peer-reviewed articles – further evidence of her expertise and proof that she’ll “add to our breadth of research,” according to Thomas McGinn, head of the Feinstein Institute’s Center for Health Innovations and Outcomes Research.

Davidson’s research “can have an immediate impact on patient care,” McGinn said in a statement.

At the new research center, Davidson – a Queens College undergrad who earned a psychology master’s degree and a PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada – will lead a team of clinician-scientists and others “focused on disrupting the science of chronic-disease management and health behavior change,” according to the Feinstein Institute.

Officially, she will serve as dean of academic affairs, senior vice president of research and professor at the Manhattan center, as well as a professor of behavioral medicine at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in Hempstead.

“Dr. Davidson embodies our mission to produce knowledge to cure disease,” noted Feinstein Institute President and CEO Kevin Tracey. “As a leader in the fields of psychology and cardiology, I am delighted she will build a research program in Manhattan focusing on chronic disease management.”