Owen M. Wolkowitz, MD - Contact Information

Owen M. Wolkowitz, MD

Title: Professor in Residence


University of Maryland School of Medicine, MD

Postgraduate Training:

Stanford University School of Medicine, Residency in Psychiatry; National Institute of Mental Health, Fellowship in Psychopharmacology

Biography Summary:

Owen Wolkowitz, M.D. is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and Director of the Psychopharmacology Assessment Clinic. Dr. Wolkowitz has been on faculty at the UCSF School of Medicine for over 20 years. Prior to that, he received his psychiatric training at Stanford University and completed a fellowship in psychopharmacology at the National Institute of Mental Health. His teaching, clinical work and research are in the areas of stress, depression, and anxiety disorders.  His interests include the effects of stress and stress hormones on the brain and behavior, as well as the identification of mechanisms underlying depression, which may lead to the discovery of new treatments.  He has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and co-edited the American Psychiatric Press Inc.'s textbook, Psychoneuroendocrinology: The Scientific Basis of Clinical Practice (2003).  In recognition of his work, Dr. Wolkowitz has received several awards, including the Curt P. Richter Prize of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology (1992) and annual citations in ”Best Doctors of America“ since 1994.

Dr. Wolkowitz‚s research addresses the role of stress in psychiatric illness and the development of novel therapeutics (Wolkowitz, Epel, & Reus, 2001a).  In particular, his research has focused on the effects of exogenous corticosteroid hormones on the brain, including investigation of the ”steroid dementia syndrome“ and the role of endogenous steroid hormone dysregulation in depression (Wolkowitz et al., 2004; Wolkowitz, Lupien, & Bigler, 2007).  His group was among the first to investigate anti-glucocorticoid treatments and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation as hormonally-based antidepressant treatments (Wolkowitz & Reus, 1999; Wolkowitz, Brizendine, & Reus, 2000; Reus & Wolkowitz, 2001; Wolkowitz, Epel, & Reus, 2001b; Wolkowitz & Reus, 2001).

Dr. Wolkowitz and his colleagues have developed a detailed model of mechanistic pathways leading from stress to psychiatric illness, representing effects of steroid and neurosteroid hormones, oxidative stress, neurotrophic factors, inflammatory responses, changes in telomeres and telomerase and genetic polymorphisms (Wolkowitz & Reus, 2003; Wolkowitz, Epel, & Mellon, 2008).  They are now conducting additional studies to test this model, and to explore cumulative neuronal damage in the hippocampus.  Additional studies are also planned to refine and continue testing the proposed model, to develop prototypic new medications, and to explore mechanisms by which stress and depression may cause physical illness and accelerate the aging process (Epel et al., 2005).

Through his extensive research and clinical practice, Dr. Wolkowitz has developed a broad knowledge of the underlying neuroendocrinological basis of psychopathology, and of the mechanisms of stress and depression in particular.  He brings key perspective to the tasks of identifying vulnerabilities and  of defining and modeling strategies for early intervention to prevent or treat stress-related sequelae.

Clinical Expertise:

Psychopharmacology, psychoneuroendocrinology (e.g., effects of steroid hormones on the brain), major depression, anxiety disorders, stress and stress hormones

Educational Expertise:

Mood and anxiety disorders, psychopharmacology, psychoneuroendocrinology, research methodology, stress research

Research Areas:

Psychoneuroendocrinology, particularly effects of stress and stress hormones on the brain (glucocorticoids, neurosteroids, neurotropic factors), psychopharmacology of depression and anxiety

Campus Location: Parnassus

Publications on PubMed »

Depression Specialty Clinic
Medication Management Clinic
Psychopharmacology Assessment Clinic
UCSF Depression Center


Leadership in research, education, psychiatric care and public service