Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D. is the Ruth Meltzer Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. A Summa cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa Tufts graduate (‘80), she attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University and completed residency training at Payne Whitney Clinic, New York Hospital Cornell. From 1988 to 2016, she was at Columbia University rising to Professor of Psychiatry and Vice Chairman for Education. In 2017, she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.
Her expertise is in the diagnosis, pharmacologic treatment, and neurobiology of Bipolar Disorder and Major Depression with an emphasis on suicidal behavior and in Global Mental Health. Internationally known for neurobiological studies of suicidal behavior, Dr. Oquendo has used Positron Emission Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging to map brain abnormalities in mood disorders and suicidal behavior. In 2003, when issues regarding antidepressants’ potential risk for inducing suicidal behavior first arose, Dr. Oquendo and colleagues were commissioned by the FDA to develop a classification system to examine suicide-related events in the data. This system is endorsed by the FDA and CDC and now used worldwide. She has authored or co-authored over 350 peer-reviewed articles.
Dr. Oquendo is Past President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the International Academy of Suicide Research. She is also Vice President of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Board of Directors and a member of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Advisory Council. She is a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the APA and the American College of Psychiatrists.
She has received a multitude of awards in the US, Europe and South America. Most recently, she was honored with the Virginia Kneeland Award for Distinguished Women in Medicine (Columbia University 2016), the Award for Mood Disorders Research (American College of Psychiatrists 2017), and the Alexandra Symmonds Award (2017 from APA).