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

Dr. Basu is the Medical Director of the Substance Use Disorders Program at the Northport VA hospital. Additionally, she is also the Medical Review Officer and the Acting Director of the PTSD program. She joined the Northport VA Hospital in 2013.

She received her medical degree in India, and completed her Psychiatry Residency from the North Shore/ LI J  Program. Subsequently, she did a a Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. She is board certified in Adult Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine.


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

Dr. Kunkel is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.  She received her medical degree from Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York.  She completed her Psychiatry Residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School.  She subsequently completed a research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital studying schizophrenia.  Dr. Kunkel was recruited to Stony Brook Medicine in 2007 to lead a team on the Consultation-Liaison psychiatry service.  She currently evaluates Residents of the Long Island State Veterans Home.  Dr. Kunkel is board certified in Adult Psychiatry and in Consultation- Liaison psychiatry.

 

 

Grace Latorre

  Grace LaTorre, MD

Dr. Grace La Torre is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Stony Brook Medicine and is the Director of the Palliative Care Program. She joined Stony Brook Medicine in 2017 and since has actively been involved in expanding the Palliative Care inpatient Consult Service as well as the Palliative Medicine Education Program across the Stony Brook University and the school of Medicine. She is also the Program Director of Stony Brook Medicine’s newly developed Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program. Dr. La Torre received her Medical degree and Master in Science degree from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine/NYIT in 2011 She then completed her Internal Medicine Residency and her Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship at Hofstra North Shore-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine. Dr. LaTorre is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Her research interests are related to palliative care education across all specialties by using innovating approaches including the SIM lab, quality measures of palliative care for cancer patients, and approaches to barriers for appropriate end of life/palliative care for the vulnerable patient populations.  


Mark Sedler

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.



 

 

Nicole Absar

Nicole Absar, MD

Nicole Absar, MD has joined the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health as Clinical Assistant Professor.  She is a diplomate in Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry and board certified in American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology. Dr. Absar completed her residency in psychiatry at Tufts University Medical School where she served as Chief Resident. She then went on to complete her certification in Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry from the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties. She is a Diplomate in Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry and a Fellow at the American Psychiatric Association. She has a passion for integrated neuroscience interfacing neurology, psychiatry and neurocognitive stimulation in dementia care. She is a registered yoga teacher and specializes in yoga as a therapy for brain disorders and neuropsychiatric illness.
         
Dr. Absar will be evaluating patients at the Eastern Long Island Hospital, playing an important role in expanding Stony Brook Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s disease and geriatric psychiatry services to Eastern Long Island Hospital. She is available to provide evaluation and management services for Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy Body /Parkinson’s dementia, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia, geriatric mood and anxiety disorders. These services are available to the east end now via telehealth.
         
Our team is excited to add Nicole’s expertise, passion and experience to the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease at Stony Brook. 


 

 

Sara Weisenbach

Sara Weisenbach, PhD

Dr. Weisenbach is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health at Stony Brook University and a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist. She specializes in assessing older people with cognitive difficulties. Her research interests include studying the mechanisms and deficits underlying depression and cognitive decline during middle-age and late life in a developmental/longitudinal context and translating this knowledge into effective neuropsychological and neuroimaging tools for monitoring course of illness and conversion to dementia.

Dr. Weisenbach completed a Career Development Award through the VA Rehabilitation, Research, & Development Program that investigated reward, memory, and executive functioning brain networks in older adults with depression, and how patterns in these networks predict cognitive decline. Her NIH line of funding investigates how sex, depression severity, and executive functioning skills serve as moderators and/or mediators for emotion regulation skills in middle-aged and older adults using multi-modal measurement strategies, including fMRI. Dr. Weisenbach is also funded with a NARSAD Young Investigator Award through the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation for a project of epigenetic mechanisms of late life depression and cognitive decline.

Dr. Weisenbach earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Colorado State University in 2005. She completed post-doctoral fellowships in Clinical and Research Neuropsychology and Advanced Geriatrics at University of Michigan and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, respectively. She began her position at Stony Brook in August 2019, following her position as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Utah.

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.