Dr. Ursano is Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland. He is founding Director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress. In addition, Dr. Ursano is Editor of Psychiatry, the distinguished journal of interpersonal and biological processes, founded by Harry Stack Sullivan. Dr Ursano completed twenty years service in USAF medical corps and retired as Colonel in 1991. He was educated at the University of Notre Dame and Yale University School of Medicine and did his psychiatric training at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center and Yale University.
Dr. Ursano served as the Department of Defense representative to the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institutes of Mental Health and is a past member of the Veterans Affairs Mental Health Study Section and the National Institute of Mental Health Rapid Trauma and Disaster Grant Review Section. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow in the American Psychiatric Association and a Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists. Dr. Ursano was the first Chairman of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disaster. This work greatly aided the integration of psychiatry and public health in times of disaster and terrorism. Dr. Ursano was an invited participant to the White House Mental Health Conference in 1999. He has received the Department of Defense Humanitarian Service Award and the highest award of the International Traumatic Stress Society, The Lifetime Achievement Award, for “outstanding and fundamental contributions to understanding traumatic stress.” He is the recipient of the William C. Porter Award from the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, the William Menninger Award of the American College of Physicians and the James Leonard Award of the Uniformed Services University. He is a frequent advisor on issues surrounding psychological response to trauma to the highest levels of the US Government and specifically to the Department of Defense leadership.
Dr. Ursano has served as a frequent member of the National Academies of Science, Institute of Medicine Committees and working groups including the Committee on Psychological Responses to Terrorism, Committee on PTSD, the Committee on Compensation for PTSD in Veterans and the Committee on Nuclear Preparedness; and the National Institute of Mental Health Task Force on Mental Health Surveillance After Terrorist Attack. In addition, he has served as a member of scientific advisory boards to the Secretary of Health and Human Services for disaster mental health and the Centers for Disease Control for preparedness and terrorism. Dr. Ursano is co-principal investigator of the largest NIMH grant ever given for the study of Suicide in the U.S. Army. In collaboration with his co-principal investigators at Harvard University, the University of Michigan and Columbia University the Army- STARRS grant will be the Framingham Study of suicidal behavior, and address a national as well as DoD mental health need. In 2014, Dr. Ursano and Dr. Matthew Friedman of the VA National Center for PTSD co-founded the Friedman-Leahy Brain Bank supported through Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It is the first human brain bank dedicated to PTSD. This joint effort of many people was a 12 year project developing concepts, pilot data and support. Dr. Ursano has over 300 publications. He is co-author or editor of eight books.