Milton Wainberg is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute, Director, Mental Wellness Equity Center at Columbia University/ New York State Psychiatric Institute, Director of the NIMH-funded Columbia University Global Mental Health Implementation Science T32-Post Doctoral Fellowship, Director of the NIMH/Fogarty International-funded Portuguese-speaking African countries Mental Health Implementation Research Training Program, Co-Director of the NIMH/Fogarty International-funded Capacity development in HIV and MEntal health Research in Asia (CHIMERA), Founding Chair of the Caucus of Global Mental Health and Psychiatry of the American Psychiatric Association, and Medical Director of the Columbia University HIV Mental Health Training Project. Continuously funded since 2001, Dr. Wainberg is a Principal investigator or investigator of several NIMH, NIAAA, NIDA and CDC studies.
Dr. Wainberg is a Latino research psychiatrist who is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese whose research aims at implementing and disseminating scalable and sustainable efficacious interventions to decrease the research to practice gap. His research foci include global mental health implementation science and the intersection of HIV prevention and care with mental health and substance use among diverse vulnerable populations in the U.S. and globally. He has extensive clinical, research, teaching and capacity building experience in HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance use issues. He is an expert in several manualized short-term evidence-based interventions for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.
Dr. Wainberg developed an adaptation-implementation model for contextualizing and consolidating evidence-based interventions to be deployed in new settings. He has used this model to adapt HIV prevention interventions for South African and Brazilian psychiatric patients, written HIV-related policy for the South African mental health care system, and evidence based interventions in several sub-Saharan Africa, Asia Pacific and South American countries.
Through different US federally-funded and local country-funded resources, he has conducted capacity building trainings in South Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mozambique, Venezuela, Spain, and in resource poor areas of the U.S. He collaborated in the writing and updating of the WHO Integrated Management of Adult and Adolescent Illnesses (IMAI) for Mental Health in Second Level Care, which is part of the capacity building within the WHO “3 by 5” initiative. His work addressing mental illness stigma has focused on understanding its impact on sexuality and HIV risk behaviors among adults and adolescents in psychiatric care.
Since 2012, Dr. Wainberg’s NIMH, NIAAA, and Fogarty International Center research has focused on decreasing the burden of mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries (Brazil, Botswana, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mozambique, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda and Zambia) and low-resource settings in the US through implementation science training and research programs using technology to decrease the global mental health treatment and research gaps. He uses his community-based participatory research expertise to develop community and primary care based comprehensive mental health services delivered by non-mental health specialized using digitized evidence based treatments for all mental disorders as an approach to narrow the mental health treatment gap in low-income countries.
Under his mentorship, U.S. post-doctoral fellows are constructing groundbreaking mental health implementation research in Colombia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Peru, Cameroon, South Africa, and Uganda. His Mozambique mental health implementation training program uses a research-practice-policy-community capacity building approach to develop a comprehensive research plan to implement and disseminate evidence-based practices in the public health system of Mozambique reaching about 6 million people focusing on sustainable strategies to decrease the local mental health treatment gap, while training future academic and policy leaders of mental health in the region.
His US implementation science work includes being a multiple principal in a system level intervention to improve use of the opioid care cascade in the New York State Opioid Court System, and the implementation scientist of a large New York State Suicide care Implementation science project. Funded by NIMH to address the COVID-19 pandemic in NYC, Dr. Wainberg has adapted a brief screening and triaging tool with accompanying evidence based treatments develop in sub-Saharan Africa to be implemented by a community workforce to identify, treat and triage to more specialized services using a step-care model to decrease mental health disparities. The Mental Wellness Equity Center at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute established in 2021 will provide the infrastructure required to scale up this strategy in New York State and low-resource settings in other parts of the US.