Photo of David C. Steffens, M.D., M.H.S.

David C. Steffens, M.D., M.H.S.

Samuel “Sy” Birnbaum/Ida, Louis and Richard Blum Chair in Psychiatry
Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry
NPI Number:
Academic Office Location:
Department of Psychiatry
UConn Health
Room L4062
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-1410-1410
Phone: 860-679-4282
Fax: 860-679-1296

Department of Psychiatry

Mood, Cognition and Aging Research Program

Dr. Steffens became chair of UConn Psychiatry in July, 2012, after more than 20 years at Duke University School of Medicine, where he had served as a professor of psychiatry, vice chair for education and division chief of Geriatric Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Steffens is the past president of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, has authored more than 350 peer-reviewed papers and is the lead editor of the leading textbook in geriatric psychiatry. Dr. Steffens also has considerable experience in medical education and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, medical students, resident  physicians, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty. A graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas, Houston Health Science Center School of Medicine, Dr. Steffens moved to Duke in 1988, where he completed his internship and residency in psychiatry. Since joining the Duke faculty and now at UConn Health, Dr. Steffens' career has focused on mood and cognitive disorders in older adults.

Dr. Steffens received a Master’s of Health Science in Clinical Research from Duke in 2000. He has held an NIMH-supported Mid-Career Development Award, and his major area of research focuses on links between depression in later life and development of cognitive decline and dementia. Dr. Steffens has been continuously supported by NIMH/NIH for over twenty years. At UConn, Dr. Steffens has continued his research pursuits with a new NIMH-supported study, known as NBOLD, that examines the relationship between stress and depression in older adults.  He is also the Principal Investigator of an NIMH-supported clinical trial of a computer-based cognitive intervention to treat late-life depression.  In addition, Dr. Steffens' research and mentorship activity at UConn Health have been supported by a generous gift from the Leo and Anne Albert Trust.  He also serves as Leader of the Research Education Component of the UConn Pepper Center.

With new faculty hires in psychiatry and neuropsychology, Dr. Steffens has developed a clinical geriatric mental health service that focuses on assessment and treatment of anxiety, depression and cognitive disorders in the elderly.  Faculty also contribute to the research endeavors of the Mood, Cognition and Aging Research Program (MCAR). 

B.A.Rice UniversityBiochemistry
M.D.University of Texas Health Science Center at HoustonMedicine
M.H.Sc.Duke University Medical Center Health Sciences

Post-Graduate Training
ResidencyDuke University Medical CenterPsychiatry

Name of Award/HonorAwarding Organization
Distinguished Life FellowAmerican Psychiatric Association
Martin Symonds, M.D. "Man of Good Conscience" Award for Supporting and Advancing the Careers of Women PsychiatristsAssociation of Women Psychiatrists
Geriatric Psychiatry Research AwardAmerican College of Psychiatrists
Invited Lecturer, Lawrence G. Raisz Lectureship in Clinical and Translational ResearchUConn Health Center
Annual Clinically Based Research Mentoring Award Duke University School of Medicine
Gerald L. Klerman Young Investigator AwardDepression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Junior Investigator AwardAmerican Association for Geriatric Psychiatry

Late life depression and cognitive disorders.

Dr. Steffens has lectured to medical students, MPH students, psychiatric residents and geriatric psychiatry and medicine fellows on late-life depression, dementia, and other topics related to mental health in older adults. In the new MDelta curriculum, Dr. Steffens works with other faculty to facilitate learning about dementia assessment and management.

Name & DescriptionCategoryRoleTypeScopeStart YearEnd Year
ZMH1 ERB-Q (07) R Optimizing Digital Mental Health Interventions (R01)Study SectionChairExternalNational20222022
Silvio O. Conte Centers for Basic Neuroscience or Translational Mental Health Research (P50)Study SectionChairNational20212021
Patterson Trust Review CommitteeStudy SectionChairExternalRegional20212022
2021/01 ZMH1 ERB-N (01) P Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact Research Centers (P50) (Teleconference), November 9, 2020Study SectionReviewerExternalNational20202020
NIMH Meeting 2020/10 ZMH1-ERB-N-02 - 07/07/2020 Study SectionChairExternalNational20202020
Faculty Consulting Director Search CommitteeOtherChairUConn HealthLocal20202020
Task Force on Predatory Journals and ConferencesAdvisory CommitteeChairUConn HealthLocal20182019
Editorial Board, American Journal of Geriatric PsychiatryEditorial BoardAssociate EditorExternalNational20172022
NIH Study Section, Caregiving for Alzheimer’s Disease SEP, ZRG1 HDM-Y (57)Study SectionChairExternalNational20172018
Neuroscience Chair Search CommitteeOtherCommittee MemberUConn HealthUniversity20162017
Research CouncilOtherMemberUConn HealthUniversity20152021
UConn Health AAUP Management Negotiating TeamOtherMemberUConn HealthUniversity20142017
American Association for Geriatric PsychiatryProfessional/Scientific OrganizationPresidentExternalNational20132014
Neuroscience Department Review CommitteeOtherMemberUConn HealthUniversity20132013
Senior Appointments and Promotions Committee (SAPC)OtherMemberUConn HealthUniversity20132022
Clinical CouncilOtherMemberUConn HealthUniversity20132016
Vice President for Human Resources Search CommitteeOtherMemberUConn HealthUniversity20122013
NIH Study Section, Adult Psychopathology and Disorders of AgingStudy SectionChairExternalNational20032005
NIH Study Section, ZRG1 BBBP-5Study SectionChairExternalNational20022003

Dr. Steffens has been funded by the NIH for over twenty-five years. His research focuses on links between late life depression and subsequent cognitive decline and development of dementia. Assessments include structural and functional brain imaging, neuropsychological testing, blood work for peripheral markers and genetics, personality assessment, functional status, and measures of stress and social support.  He is also interested in cognitive interventions that improve mood.

Undergraduate, graduate and medical students and trainees interested in working with Dr. Steffens should contact him at

Not accepting lab rotation students at this time.

Journal Articles


  • Cerebral-cerebellar connectivity in prediction of cognitive decline in late-life depression.
    Wang L, Potter G, Steffens D. Annual Conference of American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry 2013 Mar;



Title or AbstractTypeSponsor/EventDate/YearLocation
"Effects of Longitudinal Changes in Neuroticism and Stress on Cognitive Decline” TalkJournal Club, American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry2023Virtual
"Linking late-life depression, cognitive impairment, and dementia.” Psychiatry Grand Rounds, February 11, 2020LectureStony Brook University Department of Psychiatry2020Stony Brook University