Dr. Nancy Swerdlow Downs was born in Lawrence, Kansas and raised throughout the United States. She is an H.S. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, retired, and previous Director of the College Mental Health Program (CMHP) for UC San Diego Health. Her clinical and academic work focuses on integrative treatments for depression and anxiety in primary care, and novel interventions for suicide prevention, particularly in college and university settings.
Previously, as the Director for the CMHP, Dr. Downs and her team provided consultation-liaison services to staff and faculty, and timely access to cost-effective mental health care for approximately 43,000 UC San Diego undergraduate and graduate students. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a former member of the National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC) College Mental Health Workgroup and past Chair of the UC Office of the President Lead Psychiatrist Task Force. Dr. Downs serves an important role as an educator with psychiatry residents and as a mentor to early career faculty within the Department. With over 20 years of paid, full-time-equivalent academic experience, spanning 35 years, Dr. Downs continues to have a passion for working with patients, educating trainees, harnessing technology, contributing to the academic literature, and creating innovative, data-based programs, which enhance our community.
Dr. Downs’ academic creative work centers around developing, funding and executing inaugural clinical and teaching programs which include: 1) the UCSD Psychiatry Internship Program including multidisciplinary sites in internal medicine and neurology (designed by Dr. Downs in 1994); 2) the UCSD Combined Family Medicine and Psychiatry Residency Program, based at St. Vincent De Paul Village (co-developed by Dr. Downs in 1994, for which she shared the 1997 Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation); 3) the UCSD College Mental Health Program (developed by Dr. Downs in 2014) and Psychiatry Services on-campus (2010-2015), integrated for both the Counseling and Student Health Centers and capitalizing on EMR technology to track at-risk students and assist primary care providers with mental health algorithms; and 4) the Healer Education Assessment and Referral (HEAR) program (for which she has been a leading member since 2010) that utilizes an anonymous web-based screening assessment tool to identify and treat medical professionals and pre-professionals at risk for depression and suicidal behaviors.
Dr. Downs’ educational mentorship activities have included extensive teaching and coursework and the individual supervision of over 100 trainees.