Dr. Petros Levounis Takes Office as APA President
Washington, D.C. — Petros Levounis, M.D., M.A., an internationally renowned addiction expert and advocate of LBGTQ+ mental health, began his term as president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) at the 2023 APA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Levounis, who is married to actor and filmmaker Lukas Hassel, is currently professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and associate dean at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. He is also the chief of service at University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, and director of the Northern New Jersey Medication Assisted Treatment Center of Excellence. Levounis has held numerous leadership roles within the APA, including serving on the Psychiatric News Editorial Advisory Board, as deputy editor-in-chief of APA Publishing, member and vice chair of the Council on Addiction, and president of the APA New York County District Branch.
A native of Piraeus, Greece, Levounis was raised in a home where both his father, an internist and asthma specialist, and his mother, a nurse, practiced medicine for five decades. Levounis earned a BS/MS degree in chemistry and biophysics from Stanford University before receiving his medical education at Stanford University School of Medicine and the Medical College of Pennsylvania and his training in psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute of Columbia University.
During his years at medical school, he researched the social determinants of health, specifically how social class impacts the questions patients ask their doctors, at Oxford University and earned an MA degree in Sociology from Stanford. Levounis was also awarded the Betty Ford scholarship, a highly experiential program that allowed him to live closely with patients facing substance use problems. In 1997, while a resident at Columbia, he received the National Institute of Mental Health Outstanding Resident Award. Levounis completed his fellowship in addiction psychiatry at New York University and earned the APA/Center for Mental Health Services Minority Fellowship supporting his research in HIV risk factors among homeless men living with mental illness and substance use disorders.
Before coming to Rutgers, Levounis served as director of the Addiction Institute of New York for more than a decade, launching initiatives like the first-of-its-kind addiction medicine fellowship in 2010, which trains doctors from all medical specialties in the fundamentals of psychiatry and addiction medicine. He has also served on the boards of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the APA Assembly. In 2017, he was elected as an honorary member of the World Psychiatric Association, which represents more than 200,000 psychiatrics worldwide and sets ethical, scientific, and treatment standards for psychiatry. Levounis is the author of numerous books on addiction psychiatry, including “Motivational Interviewing for Clinical Practice,” “Technological Addictions,” and “Sober Siblings: How to Help Your Alcoholic Brother or Sister – And Not Lose Yourself.”
“I am honored and grateful to have been elected by my fellow members to help lead the APA,” Levounis said. “There are so many opportunities to affect positive change this year in focusing on addiction, LGBTQ+ issues, and other aspects of APA’s work that advance psychiatry. I look forward to helping build APA’s leadership role in mental health both within American medicine and in collaboration with our colleagues across the world."
Over the course of his year-long presidency, Levounis’s top priorities are to:
- Focus on substance use disorders and addictive behaviors, bringing together diverse constituencies to offer education, treatment and support to patients, families and practitioners, as well as to extend the APA's reach to teachers, faith leaders and politicians.
- Expand the workforce through building more residencies and developing innovative career pathways for young psychiatrists.
- Fight for parity in reimbursement of clinical services on par with other medical specialties.
- Amplify the psychiatrist’s voice on critical social issues, such as systemic racism, homophobia and climate change.
Other successful APA leadership candidates who took office at the close of the APA Annual Meeting include:
Ramaswamy Viswanathan, M.D.
Gabrielle L. Shapiro, M.D.
- Minority/Underrepresented Representative (M/UR) Trustee
Kamalika Roy, M.D., M.C.R.
- Area 2 Trustee
Kenneth B. Ashley, M.D.
- Area 5 Trustee
Heather Hauck, M.D.
- Resident-Fellow Member Trustee-Elect (RFMTE)
Sarah El Halabi, M.D., M.S.
American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit www.psychiatry.org.