Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Faculty

Nikhil Palekar, MD
Program Director

Nikhil J. Palekar, MD, is a board-certified geriatric psychiatrist and Medical Director of the Stony Brook Center of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease. He is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. He is also the Division Director for Geriatric Psychiatry and Director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Program at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Dr. Palekar joined Stony Brook Medicine from New York – Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center where he was Chief of a specialized program for treatment resistant mood and psychotic disorders. An accomplished clinician, educator and scientist, Dr. Palekar is an expert in the treatment and research of cognitive and mood disorders in the geriatric population. He has been a co-investigator on several NIMH-funded clinical studies in adult and geriatric psychiatry and has presented his research at both national and international conferences. His current research focus is on using imaging modalities to study cognitive impairment and mood disorders in the elderly.

Dr. Palekar has been a gifted educator, mentor and supervisor to medical students, residents and geriatric psychiatry fellows. In 2016, Dr. Palekar was the recipient of the Planetree – Physician of the Year Award for excellence in patient-centered care.

Dr. Palekar received his medical degree from University of Pune, India. He completed his Psychiatry Residency and Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship at SUNY Downstate Medical Center where he served as Chief Resident. Following his training, Dr. Palekar joined the Weill Cornell Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry. He is a member of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.

Ranita Basu, MD


Brian Bronson, MD

Brian Bronson serves as the Chief of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, the Director of the Fellowship in Psychosomatic Medicine, and the Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Psychiatry at Stony Brook Medicine. His overarching interest is the interface of psychiatry and other medical disciplines, building innovative educational programs and new clinical initiatives to improve access and quality of care.Dr. Bronson completed his undergraduate studies at Cornell University, followed by his medical degree and residency training in psychiatry at New York University. He subsequently completed an integrated fellowship in Public Psychiatry at Columbia University and Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry/Primary Care Tract at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Dr. Bronson is Board Certified in Psychiatry and in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Prior to joining Stony Brook, Dr. Bronson served as the Director for Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry and Primary Care – Mental Health Integration at the New York VA Medical Center, an active teaching affiliate of the NYU School of Medicine. While there, he obtained VA educational funding to expand the NYU fellowship in Psychosomatic Medicine to include training at the VA. He subsequently served as the program director of that fellowship, overseeing its three arms at the VA, NYU Langone, and Bellevue Hospitals. Dr. Bronson was also awarded a VA clinical grant to integrate mental health services across eight VA primary care centers in New York and New Jersey.

In 2013, Dr. Bronson was recruited to Stony Brook University to lead the Consultation and Liaison services. Since arrival, he has grown the program to include nine faculty members, established new sub-specialty new programs in Hospital Medicine Integrated Care and in Psychiatric-Oncology, and established a new ACGME accredited Fellowship in Psychosomatic Medicine. In 2016, Dr. Bronson assumed the additional role of Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, expanding his responsibilities to include department clinical strategic planning and oversight.

Laura Kunkel, MD


Jeisson Fontecha, MD

Dr. Jeisson Fontecha-Hernandez serves as the Associate Director for the Fellowship in Psychosomatic Medicine, a faculty leader for one of the Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry teaching teams, and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Stony Brook University.  He is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Neurology as well as in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Dr. Fontecha-Hernandez obtained his medical degree in 2004 from the National University of Colombia, his native country, followed by one year of social service caring for mentally ill persons in a rural area of Colombia. In 2006, he came to the United States, where initially serving as a Research Assistant at the University of Pennsylvania on studies of electro modulation, brain stimulation and mood disorders. Dr. Fontecha completed residency training in Psychiatry at the University of Miami –Jackson Memorial Hospital, from which he graduated in 2012, followed by a Fellowship in Psychosomatic Medicine at New York University. Prior to joining Stony Brook, Dr. Fontecha briefly returned to Colombia to lead a Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry service and initiate a private practice.

Dr. Fontecha was recruited to Stony Brook University in 2015, where he quickly established a reputation as a particularly dedicated and talented teacher, highly sought after by residents and fellows. In 2016, he was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award for Excellence in Teaching Adult Psychiatry, and in 2017 he was appointed as Associate Fellowship Director. Dr. Fontecha-Hernandez’s areas of interest include delirium, mood disorders, neuromodulation, and transcultural psychiatry.

Samantha Nagengast, MD

Dr. Samantha Nagengast is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Stony Brook Medicine. She has been an attending on the Palliative Care consult service since 2013 and is the fellowship program director of Stony Brook Medicine’s  newly developed Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program. Dr. Nagengast received her medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine in 2008. She then completed her Internal Medicine Residency at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and her Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Nagengast is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Mark J. Sedler, MD, MPH

Dr. Sedler is currently a Professor of Psychiatry and Founding Director of the Office of Global Medical Education at the Renaissance School of Medicine. He completed at fellowship in geriatric psychiatry at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and was Director of the Stony Brook Alzheimer’s Center from 2000-2015. He was boarded in Geriatric Psychiatry in 1996 and has published widely in the area of geriatric psychiatry, particularly in connection with global health.

Guy Schwartz, MD

 Dr. Guy Schwartz is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology and co-Director of the Stony Brook Parkinson’s and other Movement Disorders Center. After coming to Stony Brook Medicine in 2014 he founded the Stony Brook Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence with support from the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. He also helped establish Stony Brook’s Neuromodulation Program of deep brain stimulation surgical therapy for the movement disorders, and the Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Program. Dr. Schwartz completed his Movement Disorders fellowship training at North Shore University Hospital/Northwell Health and his Neurology residency training at Long Island Jewish Medical Center/Northwell Health. He obtained his medical degree from Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Dr. Schwartz is a member of the Huntington Study Group and has an interest in drug development for Huntington’s disease. He also has research interests in Parkinson’s disease psychosis and neuro-imaging in movement disorders.

Angela B. Smith, MS

Ms. Angela Smith is the Coordinator of the Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison Services,  the Program Coordinator for the Fellowship in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry and the coordinator for the third year clerkship in Psychiatry. Ms. Smith received her Master of Science degree in 1989 from the School of Allied Health Professions, SUNY at Stony Brook. She joined the Department of Psychiatry that year, starting her career as a research assistant studying the genetics of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Over time, Ms. Smith assumed increasing administrative responsibility in the Department of Psychiatry. In 2004, she obtained a New York State Advanced Certificate in Healthcare Policy and Management from the SUNY Stony Brook School of Health Technology and Management. Her administrative roles have varied ranging from Instructional Support Specialist to her present responsibilities in which she works closely with the division director and faculty in coordinating the active clinical, administrative and training activities in the division.

Christopher Christodoulou, PhD

Dr. Christodoulou is a licensed neuropsychologist who provides neuropsychological evaluations and consults with the CEAD team regarding different diagnoses to help guide treatment and care of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Dr. Christodoulou received his BA in psychology and his MA in community-clinical psychology from the University of Maryland. He earned his PhD in psychology specializing in neurocognition from the City University of New York. Dr. Christodoulou also completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in neuropsychology at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and the Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Laboratory of the Kessler Foundation.