Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) Psychiatry


Warren Taylor, MD, MS - Director, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry / Fellowship Director

Dr. Taylor is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Investigator in the Center for Cognitive Medicine, and Director of the Mood Disorders Program. Dr. Taylor’s research focuses on biological factors contributing to the occurrence, phenomenology, and outcomes of depression in older adults, with a particular focus on pathological brain aging. His work uses a variety of approaches, including neuroimaging, neurocognitive, and genetic methods to advance our understanding of the pathogenesis of depression. This work is often accompanied by clinical trials designed to probe the biological substrates of the antidepressant response. This work has elucidated structural and functional neuroimaging findings are related to depression and treatment outcomes, particularly the influence of vascular disease on depression.

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Monica Jacobs, PsyD - Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry & Neurology

Dr. Jacobs is board certified in neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. She joined the Department of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt in 2010. She provides neuropsychological evaluations for adults for a broad range of referral questions including dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment among others. She also consults with the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Assessment Program (VCAP). VCAP conducts fitness for duty evaluations with physicians. When there is a question of cognitive impairment and/or possible dementia, Dr. Jacobs conducts neuropsychological assessment to assist VCAP with differential diagnosis and recommendations with regard to fitness for duty.   

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Paul Newhouse, MD - Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Newhouse is the Director of the Center for Cognitive Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His research has focused on central nicotinic mechanisms in degenerative brain disorders and the role of nicotinic receptor systems in normal and disordered cognitive functioning in humans. Another major focus includes studying the interaction of estrogen and central cholinergic, catecholaminergic, and serotonergic systems in relation to cognitive and emotional aging in the elderly and novel pharmacologic-imaging methodologies. Other interests include treatment of depression and behavioral disturbances in the elderly, and development of effective novel agents for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders of the elderly.

He has served on and has chaired numerous NIH grant review committees, and is an editorial board member and frequent reviewer for scientific journals for manuscripts on depression, dementia, and cognitive neuroscience.


William Petrie, MD - Professor of Clinical Psychiatry

Dr. Petrie is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, and directs the outpatient geriatric psychiatry clinic. He has had clinical and research interests in drug treatment of Alzheimer's disease including investigational treatments. His clinical interests and activity includes psychiatric aspects of Parkinson's disease, the use of clozapine in elderly patients, and impulse disorders in neurodegenerative illnesses, and psychopharmacologic interventions in the elderly. 



Megan Simmons, DNP, PMHNP- Assistant Professor of Nursing & Psychiatry

Dr. Simmons joined the Vanderbilt School of Nursing faculty in 2013, and was granted a secondary appointment in the Department of Psychiatry in 2015. She has been a board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) since 2005, and she received the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Vanderbilt in 2013. The majority of her clinical experience has been with older adults in the outpatient and long-term care settings, and she currently practices in the outpatient geriatric psychiatry clinic.  In 2014, she was named the March of Dimes Middle Tennessee Behavioral Health Nurse of the Year, she co-founded and chaired the Geropsych Special Interest Group in the Geronotological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA), and she is a member of Vanderbilt’s Institutional Review Board Health Sciences 3 committee.

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Neil Woodward, PhD - Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Woodward has been a member of the faculty since 2009. He completed his PhD in Clinical Psychology at Vanderbilt University in 2007. Using a variety of methods, Dr. Woodward studies the neural basis of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. He is especially interested in the neural basis of cognitive impairment in psychosis. Dr. Woodward has received funding support from the Jack Martin, MD, Research Professorship in Psychopharmacology, the National Institute of Health, and the Brain and Behavior Research Fund. In addition to conducting research, Dr. Woodward is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of Tennessee and accepts referrals for neuropsychological assessment.


Tennessee Valley Health Systems (VA) Psychiatry


Shagufta Jabeen, MD - Geriatric Fellowship VA Site Director

Dr. Jabeen is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Staff Psychiatrist at VA hospital. She servers as Site Director for Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Program. Her clinical and research interests are geared towards diagnosis and management of mild and major neurocognitive disorders with special interest in effects of mental and medical comorbidities on cognition. She is interested in behavioral, psychological, nutritional and psychopharmacological interventions in geriatric population.


Harry Gwirtsman, MD - Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Gwirtsman has been a member of the faculty since 1995. He was Director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine from 1998 until 2006. He currently serves as the Director of Inpatient Services and the Psychiatry-Medical Unit (PMU), as well as the Consultation-Liaison Service, and is also Director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Program at the Nashville VA-Tennessee Valley Healthcare System. He is board certified in Adult Psychiatry, and has subspecialty boards in Geriatric Psychiatry.

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John Jackson, MD - Associate Chief of Staff for Behavioral Health

Dr. Jackson served as an Army psychiatrist in Iraq, where he was a member of the 785th Combat Stress Company. In 2004 he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his service. Dr. Jackson has previously worked as a staff psychiatrist for the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, where he primarily cared for veterans suffering with PTSD. In 2017 he was promoted to Associate Chief of Staff of the Mental HealthCare line for Tennessee Valley  .


Andrew Michel, MD - Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Michel joined the Vanderbilt faculty as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in 2009. He is currently the Chief of Psychiatry/MHCL at the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System. His style of practice is relational in nature, including the use of insight-oriented therapy in caring for those suffering with psychiatric illness. Dr. Michel's scholarship has focused on engaging clinical medicine (especially psychiatry) from a virtue ethics perspective.


Sam Sells, MD - Associate Chief of Staff for Education

Dr. Sells joined the Vanderbilt Department of Psychiatry faculty in 1990. His primary responsibilities are at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center where he serves as the Associate Chief of Staff for Education. As a board-certified Geriatric Psychiatrist he maintains an limited clinical practice at the VA.


Valerie Smith-Gamble, MD - Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Smith-Gamble is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a Staff Psychiatrist at the VA hospital. She has a long-term commitment to education. Dr. Smith-Gamble teaches psychiatry resident physicians, geriatric medicine and geriatric psychiatry fellows about Alzheimer’s disease and ways to address caregiver burden. She has worked to meet the needs of our aging veterans through the development and implementation of an Older Adult Mental Health Clinic at the Roudebush VA Medical Center.

Affiliated VUMC Faculty

Department of Medicine


Mariu Duggan, MD - Assistant Professor of Medicine

Dr. Duggan is a geriatric physician, educator, and researcher promoting healthy aging and quality dying.


Ralf Habermann, MD - Assistant Professor of Medicine

Dr. Habermann is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt, Director of the Acute Care for Elderly Unit at Vanderbilt Hospital, and Medical Director of several hospital-affiliated long term care facilities. He is also a certified hospice and pain management physician.


Mohana Karlekar, MD - Medical Director, Palliative Care Program

Dr. Karlekar is the medical director of the palliative care program at VUMC and Associate Medical Director of the Hospice and Palliative Care Fellowship Program. She received her medical degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and completed residency at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She has taught palliative care(PC) for over 15 years to medical students, faculty and house officers.  She has published and presented on PC at the national and international level.  She has co-authored the chapter on family meetings in the second edition of Principles and Practices of Palliative Oncology and Supportive Oncology.

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Victor J. Legner, MD - Associate Professor of Medicine

Dr. Legner is a geriatric medicine physician who specializes in taking care of frail, older adults, particularly those with cognitive decline and dementia. His care philosophy is to bring as much quality and comfort as possible to those with chronic illnesses through an inclusive team effort.

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Keith Meador, MD - Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences & Health Policy

Dr. Meador is Professor of Psychiatry and Health Policy at Vanderbilt University and also serves as the Director of Mental Health and Chaplaincy through the VISN 6 MIRECC as part of a national initiative to foster integration of chaplaincy services into mental health care within the Department of Veterans Affairs. He also serves as the Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt. He joined the faculty at Vanderbilt in July of 2010 and previously served as a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, where he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor.  


Sumi Misra, MD, MPH, FAAHPM - Assistant Professor of Medicine

Dr. Misra is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health at Vanderbilt, where she serves as Program Director for the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program. Dr. Misra facilitates discussions pertaining to the elderly, palliative care, and end of life care to Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellows, as well as residents in the Internal Medicine training program at VUMC. She is very involved in the integration of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine into the Medical school at Vanderbilt School of Medicine.

During her own Fellowship training, Dr. Misra developed a passion for issues surrounding End of Life and she is a Diplomat of the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Care. Her research interests include education, care delivery and End of life care. She is a Harvard Macy Scholar and the recipient of two consecutive HRSA funded K01Geriatric Career Development Awards, (GACA), (2004-current) with an emphasis on geriatrics and End of life care. She is the recipient of the 2007 AMDA-Pfizer Award for Quality Improvement, for innovative strategies for pain management in nursing homes. 


James Powers, MD - Associate Professor of Medicine

Dr. Powers is Associate Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt where he runs the Geriatric Medicine Fellowship.  He is also the Associate Clinical Director of the Tennessee Valley Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC). Dr. Powers is board certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, and Hospice & Palliative Care.  He was recruited to Vanderbilt to develop a Geriatric Medicine Teaching Program which has evolved into a Geriatric Division. He developed a Geriatric Clinic at Vanderbilt as well as a Consult and Senior Care Service at the VA Hospital in 1987 followed by an In-patient Senior Care Service at Vanderbilt. With over twenty sites of care and numerous Geriatric curricula throughout the medical center, the Vanderbilt Geriatric Program now supports numerous faculty colleagues, a Geriatric Medicine Fellowship, the VA Tennessee Valley Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, the Meharry Geriatric Education Center, and the Vanderbilt Center for Quality in Aging.  Author of over 100 papers, books, and book chapters he is in great demand as a lecturer and has devoted his academic career to Geriatric Nutrition, Education, Dementia Care, and Healthcare Quality and Safety.

Department of Neurology


Daniel Claassen, MD - Assistant Professor of Neurology


Howard Kirshner, MD - Professor and Vice Chair of Neurology

Dr. Kirshner is Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Neurology at Vanderbilt, as well as Professor of Psychiatry, and Hearing and Speech Sciences, Director of the Vanderbilt Stroke Center, and Division Chief for Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology. He is board certified in Neurology, Vascular Neurology, and Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry. Dr. Kirshner has served as an editor of Neurology and is currently the book review editor for the Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology. Interests include vascular neurology and cognitive neurology, including aphasia, memory loss, and dementia. Research interests include aphasia, both in stroke and in neurodegenerative diseases such as frontotemporal dementia, and clinical trials related to stroke treatment and prevention. He also has a Cognitive Disorders clinic.