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Forensic Psychiatry

Forensic psychiatry is a subspecialty within psychiatry at the interface of mental health issues and the law. This includes matters of civil, criminal, and administrative law as well as evaluation and specialized treatment of individuals involved with the legal system. This specialty is formally recognized by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, which offers added qualifications and board certification in this field. Northwestern's one-year, full-time, ACGME-accredited Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program is designed to develop proficiency in all aspects of forensic psychiatric practice.

The Northwestern Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program is dedicated to providing world-class training at the intersection of mental health issues and the law. Fellows develop proficiency in all aspects of forensic psychiatric practice through our didactic curriculum and supervised clinical experiences. Fellows learn to provide ethical professional expert services in civil and criminal forensic evaluations; to effectively interface with the legal system to promote understanding of psychiatric issues; and to understand the principles of psychiatric treatment in justice-involved settings. We strive to develop leaders, scholars, and clinicians in the field of forensic psychiatry.

 

 Prerequisites

Qualified applicants must have satisfactorily completed an ACGME-accredited general psychiatry residency program in the United States or a general psychiatry program in Canada, which is accredited by the RCPSC.

The ACGME Review Committee for Psychiatry does not allow exceptions to the eligibility requirements for fellowship programs.

 Application

Applications for the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship are made by residents who have completed or are in the process of completing the third year of general psychiatry residency training. Consistent with the Association of Directors of Forensic Psychiatry Fellowships common application, we accept applications beginning January 1 for the academic year beginning July 1 of the following calendar year (i.e., 18 months later) until our program has filled. We encourage applicants to apply early in the application cycle because admission selections are made on a rolling basis. Interviews begin April 1.

Northwestern accepts the Common Application available at https://www.aapl.org/fellowship. To apply, complete and return the following required documentation:

  • Common Application Form
  • Photo
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Personal statement of one single-spaced page or less that explains your interest and/or experience in forensic psychiatry
  • At least one additional writing sample (e.g., de-identified forensic report or psychiatric evaluation, published manuscript of which you are the first author)
  • Copy of medical school diploma
  • Copy of ECFMG certificate (if applicable)
  • Copy of current medical license(s)
  • Copy of USMLE/COMLEX scores
  • 3 letters of reference, one of which must be from your current program director or, if you have completed training within the past five years, the director of the program from which you graduated most recently. Letters should be sent from the letter-writer directly to Northwestern.
  • Official copy of medical school transcript and dean’s (MSPE) letter sent directly to Northwestern from the medical school

The application and documents should be emailed to the program coordinator, Sandra Downey (sdowney@nm.org), and the program director, Cara Angelotta, MD (cara.angelotta@northwestern.edu).

For more information, please contact:

Cara Angelotta, M.D.
Director, Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Cara.Angelotta@northwestern.edu


Sandra Downey

Program Coordinator
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
446 E. Ontario, Suite 7-200
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 312-695-5800
sdowney@nm.org 

 Curriculum

One half-day per week is devoted to the didactic seminar series, which includes presentations by guest speakers and fellowship faculty on clinical and legal issues relating to criminal and civil forensic psychiatry at national and local levels. The didactic seminars provide training in civil, criminal, clinical, consultative and correctional forensic psychiatry. Lectures target landmark cases, forensic evaluations, report writing, court testimony and treatment in correctional settings. The forensic teaching staff consists of forensic psychiatrists and psychologists, attorneys and law enforcement personnel. Teaching activities involve case consultation, peer review and didactic seminars. The program is designed to facilitate the forensic fellow’s successful completion of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s board examination for the Added Qualifications in Forensic Psychiatry. Barbara Kahn JD, a lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University and adjunct faculty at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, developed and oversees the didactic seminar curriculum for the fellowship.

In addition, fellows participate in a monthly forensic division journal club and research talks, and attend weekly psychiatry department grand rounds. Fellows have weekly rotation-specific supervision and regular meetings with the program director, Dr. Angelotta, and the division director, Dr. Dinwiddie. Fellows also have ongoing supervision with James Cavanaugh, MD, the senior associate of Cavanaugh & Associates and former Chairman of the Board of Directors, Isaac Ray Center, Inc., a private forensic behavioral science group.

 Rotations

We designed our clinical rotations with the goal that our graduating fellows are prepared to function independently as forensic psychiatrists in diverse settings. Fellows have opportunities to provide correctional psychiatric care; testify in court; participate in forensic evaluations in civil and criminal matters in a wide range of settings; and work with numerous different faculty to develop a broad perspective of the field of forensic psychiatry.

Division of Forensic Psychiatry, Northwestern Medical Group

The Northwestern Medical Group faculty provide forensic-psychiatric evaluations and consultation services to lawyers and administrative agencies (e.g. insurance companies; employers; licensing boards) regarding civil and criminal psychiatric-legal questions. During this year-long rotation, fellows are trained to conduct forensic evaluations (including review of clinical, legal, and other collateral records as well as forensic psychiatric interviews); writing forensic psychiatric reports; communication with attorneys and other referral sources; and providing testimony in depositions and trial. The types of civil and criminal cases include: criminal responsibility, competency to stand trial, sentencing of criminal offenders, sexual and other misconduct, personal injury and emotional harms, employment disability, guardianship, asylum, malpractice, workers compensation, termination of parental rights, among other psychiatric-legal issues. If a fellow has a particular area of expertise that he or she would like to develop, every effort is made to accommodate this.

Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic

CCJCC is a forensic clinic that is a non-judicial office under the authority of Hon. Timothy C. Evans, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.  CCJCC is operated by Northwestern University through a contract with Cook County. CCJCC provides a variety of services responding to requests from Juvenile Court judges for mental health information in the context of court proceedings including court-ordered forensic evaluations, identification of community-based mental health resources, and referrals to court-related entities and agencies.  Fellows are trained in and conduct evaluations for the Juvenile Justice Division. 

Jesse Brown VA Medical Center

JBVA serves almost one million veterans. During this rotation, fellows are trained in psychiatric disability assessment, decision-making capacity assessment, and assessment of malingering by conducting supervised assessments in the Pensions and Disabilities program under the supervision of forensic psychiatrists.

Stateville Correctional Center

During this 6-month rotation, fellows are trained to conduct psychiatric evaluations relevant to correctional issues and to provide treatment of prisoners in this state prison setting. Fellows learn principals of correctional psychiatric care, including ethical issues, prescribing in correctional settings, and diagnostic assessment.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Mental Health Court Clinic

The Mental Health Court at NMH adjudicates civil commitment, involuntary treatment, and assisted outpatient treatment cases, among other matters. Forensic psychiatric fellows, under the supervision of an attending physician, consult with physicians treating hospitalized patients on medical and surgical teams as well as civilly committed patients on NMH’s inpatient psychiatric service. These cases involve civil commitment and dangerousness, confidentiality, refusal of treatment, decision-making competence, and guardianship. Fellows provide forensic psychiatric evaluations on the need for court-ordered medications; civil commitment; and/or assisted outpatient treatment and when appropriate write reports for the court and provide testimony. Fellows also provide consultations to general psychiatric services regarding issues of dangerousness, confidentiality, refusal of treatment, decision-making competence, and guardianship for patients from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of psychiatric diagnoses.

 Fellowship Faculty & Supervisors

Cara Angelotta, M.D. is a psychiatrist and an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, where she serves as the Fellowship Director of the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship. She graduated from Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in 2011 and completed residency training in psychiatry at Cornell University in New York City in 2015. Upon completion of a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at Columbia University, she joined the faculty at Northwestern in 2016. She is board-certified in general and forensic psychiatry. In addition to her education leadership role in the fellowship, she is the Psychiatry Clerkship Director, supervising the clinical training of Feinberg medical students in psychiatry. She has published scholarly articles and presented nationally on the intersection of women’s mental health and the law, with a particular focus on the treatment of pregnant women and mothers with mental illness and conditions related to pregnancy (e.g., pregnancy denial or unrecognized pregnancies). Clinically, she practices inpatient and outpatient psychiatry with a focus on perinatal mental illness (e.g. postpartum depression), first-episode psychosis, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder. She has consulted as a forensic psychiatric expert in dozens of civil and criminal cases involving a wide range of issues such as mental state at the time of the offense (insanity), competency to stand trial, aid in sentencing evaluations, medical malpractice, emotional injury claims, sexual harassment, psychiatric disability and workers’ compensation, fitness for duty, and parental rights of parents with severe mental illness.

Stephen H. Dinwiddie, M.D. graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School and completed residency training in psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. During his 10 years as a faculty member in that department, he conducted research in behavioral genetics (particularly the genetics of addictive disorders and antisocial behavior) and in electroconvulsive therapy as well as doing clinical work including consulting on medicolegal issues. He was recruited to serve as medical director at Elgin Mental Health Center in 1996, and then moved to the University of Chicago as Professor of Psychiatry. He moved to Northwestern University in 2011, where he is currently Professor of Psychiatry and vice chair for clinical affairs for the department, and also serves as director of the Division of Psychiatry and Law. Dr. Dinwiddie has published well over 100 scholarly articles and chapters. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and is board-certified in general, addition, and forensic psychiatry. He has appeared as an expert in numerous medicolegal cases (both civil and criminal). Although Dr. Dinwiddie has extensive experience in many areas of forensic psychiatry, areas of particular interest include neurolaw, malpractice and other personal injury, violence risk assessment, and insanity evaluations.

Jan Brakel, J.D. received his J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1968. He was a senior research fellow with the American Bar Foundation for 20 years and has held executive positions at the Isaac Ray Center and the Isaac Ray Forensic Group, institutes for the forensic practice of psychiatry and psychology, respectively. He has taught at DePaul University College of Law where he was assistant director of its Mental Health Law Institute and adjunct professor of law. He has also taught mental health law courses to a generation of psychiatry and psychology fellows at the Isaac Ray groups and at Cook County Jail, and is currently among the faculty teaching legal didactics to fellows of Northwestern Medical School’s forensic psychiatry program. Brakel is the author/editor of two volumes (1971 and 1985) of the American Bar Foundation’s The Mentally Disabled and the Law, a compendium and analysis of the mental health laws of each of the 50 states. He is co-author, with the late Professor Alexander Brooks, of a textbook,Law and Psychiatry in the Criminal Justice System, and has published multiple articles in law reviews and interdisciplinary journals on subjects ranging from mental patients’ right to refuse treatment to sex offender commitment laws. He has also published extensively on correctional law and practices, tort reform and methods of delivering legal aid to low-income people. His aspiration continues to be to teach a new generation of forensically inclined mental health professionals and to publish, whether with new or established practitioners of the craft, writings on such topics or issues as may confront them.

Michael Brook, Ph.D., ABPP is a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist and an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He received his doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and completed an internship in clinical psychology and neuropsychology at Rush University Medical Center, and a fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He is the current director of the Isaac Ray Research Program in Behavioral Sciences and the Law, co-director of the Forensic Neuropsychology and Neurocriminology Laboratory, and associate director of the clinical neuropsychology fellowship training program. His research investigates the interaction between neurocognition, emotion processing, personality traits, and socioecological factors in the genesis of violent behavior. He has published on topics including risk assessment, offender typology, laboratory measures of emotion processing, relationships between mental illness and violence, and neuropsychological outcomes in psychiatric and medical disease. The ultimate goal of Dr. Brook’s research program is to improve the understanding of interpersonal violence in order to design empirically supported risk assessment tools and community violence interventions. As an educator, Dr. Brook teaches graduate-level courses in neuropsychology and behavioral neuroscience and conducts clinical supervision of students, residents, and fellows. As a clinician, Dr. Brook is an attending neuropsychologist at Northwestern Medicine and serves as a consultant for the intercollegiate sports medicine concussion program, the comprehensive epilepsy center, and the brain tumor institute. Dr. Brook’s clinical practice in the area of forensic psychology and neuropsychology involves expert work in cases involving postconviction mitigation, fitness, legal competence, risk assessment, medical malpractice and negligence, disability and workers’ compensation, fitness for duty, and traumatic brain injury.

James L Cavanaugh, M.D., is adjunct professor of psychiatry at Northwestern Feinberg school of medicine and professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical College. He is the former chairman of the board of the Isaac Ray Center Inc. and senior associate of Cavanaugh Associates in Chicago. He has specialized for many years in the application of behavioral sciences to a broad spectrum of both criminal and civil legal cases. Noteworthy cases have included Illinois vs. John Wayne Gacy, US vs. John Warnock Hinckley, and Illinois vs. Marlyn Lemak. He received his undergraduate degree at Williams College, his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and was trained in general psychiatry at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Maudsley Hospital, University of London. After a general internship at Cook County Hospital and two years as a Lieut. Cmdr. in the US Navy Medical Corps, he joined Rush University Medical Center in 1973. In 2017, he endowed through the former Isaac Ray Center Corporation, Northwestern Medicine to create the Isaac Ray Research Program in behavioral sciences and the law and the Cavanaugh Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship. He is a past president of the Illinois Psychiatric Society, a past secretary of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law and editor emeritus, Behavioral Sciences and the Law (John Wiley and Sons). For over 30 years he was a psychiatric consultant to the US Secret Service both in the Chicago field office and in Washington DC headquarters. He has served as a psychiatric consultant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US postal inspection service, the Illinois state police, and the Chicago Police Department. He specializes in threat assessment. His teaching in the Northwestern forensic fellowship program focuses on medical legal analysis of civil cases involving behavioral science issues. Report writing, deposition and trial testimony dynamics are emphasized.

Richard Cockerill, M.D., MBE completed his forensic psychiatry fellowship at UCLA, where he also trained for residency. He also holds a Master of Bioethics degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cockerill has experience in criminal and civil forensic psychiatry, including insanity, diminished capacity, competency to stand trial, and disability evaluations. He has a special interest in forensic psychiatric ethics, and his most recent scholarly work explores ethical issues raised by the use of artificial intelligence in forensic psychiatric assessment. Dr. Cockerill teaches and supervises psychiatry residents, medical students, and other learners as a team leader on the inpatient unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He also maintains an active outpatient practice and supervises residents in the Resident Continuity Clinic. Dr. Cockerill is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where he has lectured psychiatry fellows, residents, and medical students in general psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and psychiatric ethics. Dr. Cockerill is an active member of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL), where he sits on the ethics committee.

Krissie Fernandez Smith, Ph.D., ABPP received her doctoral degree in clinical psychology with a forensic emphasis from Sam Houston State University in 2007. She completed a predoctoral internship at Heartland Behavioral Healthcare in Massillon, Ohio, a minimum-security hospital that provides inpatient care of acutely mentally ill individuals as well forensic patients that have been found incompetent to stand trial or acquitted as not guilty by reason of insanity. While there, she continued to receive training in forensic psychology. Once she received her doctoral degree, she worked in the Michigan Department of Corrections at the Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson, Michigan from 2007 to 2008. She was employed as a Consulting Forensic Examiner at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Saline, Michigan from 2008 to 2010. While there, she completed court ordered evaluations of competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, and competency to waive Miranda rights. From 2010 to 2016, she was employed as a staff psychologist at the Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic. In this position, she completed court-ordered evaluations of individuals involved in juvenile justice and child protection proceedings. As a bilingual psychologist, she has worked with individuals who speak either English or Spanish. Since 2016, she has been employed as the Associate Director of the Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic. In addition, she is an Assistant Professor in the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and provides training for their Psychiatry and Law fellowship program. She became board certified in forensic psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology in 2017. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Psychology and currently services as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Forensic Psychology and its examination faculty.

Scott Gershan, M.D., received his medical degree from Tel Aviv University in 2011. He completed his Psychiatry Residency training at Georgetown University Hospital where he also served as Chief Resident of the inpatient service. He completed Fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry at New York University. Dr. Gershan’s clinical work entails outpatient practice as well as leading a teaching service on Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s adult inpatient psychiatric unit. There, he enjoys supervising and training both psychiatry residents and medical students in developing diagnostic and assessment skills. In fellowship, Dr. Gershan trained in the inpatient correctional setting at Bellevue Hospital, testified for a successful statute mandating outpatient treatment for severely mentally ill, and composed forensic evaluations at Kirby Forensic Hospital Center in Manhattan, a maximum-security hospital that provides treatment for insanity acquittees, incompetent defendants, and civilly committed patients. These experiences have cultivated a variety of forensic interests including violence risk assessment and the biopsychosocial determinants of violent behavior, psychiatric malpractice, child and adolescent vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system, mental health hygiene law and advocacy, traumatic brain injury in forensic populations and neurolaw. He is formally trained to perform forensic assessments and reports in both criminal and civil contexts. He is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a member in the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law where he remains active in presentations and committee involvement. Dr. Gershan is an Assistant Professor in the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and also provides training for the department’s Psychiatry and Law fellowship program. He is double Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Michelle Hoy-Watkins, PsyD is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than 20 years of experience providing clinical, forensic, and police & public safety psychological services. She is board certified in Police & Public Safety Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). As a police psychologist, her work has included conducting pre-employment psychological screenings, fitness for duty evaluations, campus and workplace violence risk and threat assessment, and relevant trainings for various law enforcement agencies. As a forensic psychologist, Dr. Hoy-Watkins has extensive expertise conducting criminal court ordered evaluations, including competency to stand trial, competency to participate in immigration proceedings, criminal responsibility, sentencing and mitigation and juvenile transfer waiver cases. She has served as an expert witness in county, state, and federal courts proceedings. In January 2016, Dr. Hoy-Watkins was hired as Northwestern University’s first Director of Threat Assessment. In her role, she led the university’s multidisciplinary threat assessment team to mitigate the potential for campus violence, provided indirect threat assessments and direct violence risk evaluations of individuals who impacted the personal safety of students and other community members. Prior to Northwestern, Dr. Hoy-Watkins served as Chair of the Department of Forensic Psychology at The Chicago School of Psychology. Through her work at The Chicago School’s Forensic Center, she developed and implemented a school-based violence prevention program for students at risk for delinquency in Chicago Public Schools and alternative schools. In 2015, the SOS program was awarded a grant from Get In Chicago. Dr. Hoy-Watkins has worked for the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (post-doctoral fellow) and the Elgin Mental Health Center – Forensic Treatment Program. She has also served as a medical consultant for the Social Security Administration Regional Office where she conducts mental health disability quality reviews. Dr. Hoy-Watkins has served as an adjunct professor at the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy at the College of DuPage. She is a lecturer at Northwestern University's Department of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences, Forensic Division.

Barbara A. Kahn, J.D. is a lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University and adjunct faculty at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Ms. Kahn was a member of the research team that developed the Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic, which is an inter-disciplinary court-based forensic clinic serving the juvenile justice and child protection divisions of Cook County’s Juvenile Court. Ms. Kahn served as Associate Director of the Court Clinic from 2003 until 2008 and Director from 2008 to 2016. Ms. Kahn developed and oversees the didactic curriculum for the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship. Weekly didactics include presentations by guest speakers and Fellowship faculty on clinical and legal issues relating to criminal and civil forensic psychiatry at national and local levels. Ms. Kahn has presented locally and nationally, as well as published articles, on multiple aspects of the intersection between the legal and mental health professions.

Helen Morrison M.D., M.J. (Health Law) DFAACAP is Board Certified in General Psychiatry, in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and in Forensic Psychiatry. Dr. Morrison is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Feinberg School of Medicine, and is the Fellowship Liaison between Jesse Brown Veteran’s Administration Medical Center. As such, she is the supervising psychiatrist for the legal Compensation and Pension Clinic, where the Fellows rotate, and examine veterans for their claims. Dr. Morrison is also a reviewer for the Federal Practitioner, a newsletter circulated to all physicians who are employed in the Veterans Administration. Dr. Morrison’s research interests include Ethics, forensic issues in serial and mass murders, character pathology, child and adolescent development, and malingering.

Philip C. O’Donnell, M.J., Ph.D. received his doctoral degree in clinical psychology (child track) and master’s degree in child and family law from Loyola University Chicago in 2007. He completed his predoctoral internship at the University of California-Davis’ Child and Adolescent Abuse Resource and Evaluation (CAARE) Center, where he received specialized training in forensic child protection evaluations, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). After completing his doctoral training, he was a staff psychologist in the forensic admissions unit at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, California. In 2008, he began advanced postdoctoral training in forensic psychology as part of the ACMGE accredited fellowship at the University of Southern California’s Institute of Psychiatry, Law and Behavioral Sciences. He was a fellow, senior fellow, and adjunct training faculty in this program through 2012. During this time, Dr. O’Donnell also worked on the Jail Mental Health Services team at Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles, and was training faculty in USC’s child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship. In his forensic practice, he was paneled with the Superior Court of Los Angeles County specializing in child welfare and juvenile justice evaluations. He also participated in the development of a specialty panel for juvenile competency to stand trial evaluations in Los Angeles County. From 2013 to 2016, he was faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Colorado and served as the Clinical Director for their child and adolescent intensive psychiatric services (i.e., inpatient, partial hospitalization) program from 2014 to 2016. In July 2016, Dr. O’Donnell became the Director of the Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic, which is the primary provider of forensic mental health evaluations for Cook County’s Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Departments.

Lauren K. Robinson, MD, MPH (she/her) attended medical school at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana and received her master's degree at Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine with a focus on community health. She thereafter completed her residency in psychiatry at the University of Chicago where she was the chief resident of emergency psychiatry. She became interested in traumatic stress in health care workers and developed a program for at-risk employees to prevent secondary traumatic stress which received a University of Chicago Innovation Grant Award. She completed fellowships in clinical medical ethics at the MacLean Center at the University of Chicago and in forensic psychiatry at Northwestern School of Medicine where she was first introduced to correctional psychiatry. Providing care to inmates instantly became an area of passion for her as she viewed it as the intersection of many of her diverse interests, including public health, mental health, medical ethics, and social justice. She created a partnership with Southern Illinois University and Illinois Department of Corrections to provide telepsychiatric services to transgendered inmates throughout the state. She is boarded in General Psychiatry and is a member of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. She is currently Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, where she teaches residents and medical students on the inpatient unit. Her areas of clinical and forensic focus include correctional psychiatry, PTSD and trauma, substance use, personality disorders, medical ethics, community health, socioeconomic health disparities, and social justice issues pertaining to psychiatry and the criminal justice system. She aspires to incorporate trauma-informed care into psychiatry and to reduce stigma surround psychiatric diagnosis. She has also continued her work supporting wellness among staff and students and teaches yoga to the Northwestern community.

 Former Fellows

“I received an excellent foundation in the field of forensic psychiatry after completing the fellowship at Northwestern, the sole program in Chicago. I was exposed to a wide variety of civil cases guided by mentors with decades of experience including participation in historically high-profile cases. The didactics are multidisciplinary and thought provoking. It provides unique opportunities for work within the criminal branch of the discipline as well, including a rotation at the Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic, the first of its kind in the country. My work treating inmates at Stateville penitentiary solidified my desire to pursue a career in correctional psychiatry.”


Lauren K. Robinson, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

 Scholarship & Research

Fellows have protected time to engage a scholarly or research project with mentorship tailored to their particular interests. Fellows present their project to the division at the end of the fellowship year.

Once accepted to Northwestern, fellows with an interest in research may apply to the Cavanaugh Fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry. This initiative provides financial support for incoming Northwestern forensic psychiatry fellows who demonstrate promise in the area of forensic mental health research, as well as potential for an academic career. The awards are merit-based and require incoming fellows to submit a research proposal. The inaugural recipient (2020) was Alex Rose, MD whose research project involved a legal review of the use of Factitious Disorder diagnosis in the courts.

Cavanaugh Fellows are mentored by Michael Brook, PhD, the Director of the Isaac Ray Research Program in Behavioral Sciences and the Law at Northwestern Medicine. The mission of the Isaac Ray Research Program is to champion multidisciplinary research at the intersection of human behavior and legal systems, in order to develop evidence-based interventions, improve public policy, and advance justice. The Isaac Ray Research Program was established in 2018 with a charitable endowment from James L. Cavanaugh, MD. Dr. Cavanaugh founded the Isaac Ray Center in 1979. In over 40 years, the Isaac Ray Center research division published hundreds of articles and book chapters contributing to the field of forensic psychiatry. Upon the retirement of Dr. Cavanaugh, the assets of the Isaac Ray Center were transferred to the Northwestern Memorial Foundation to establish the Isaac Ray Research Program in Behavioral Sciences and the Law at Northwestern Medicine, within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, to continue research at the interface of behavioral sciences and the law.

 Why Northwestern?

Housestaff training through McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University provides diverse and challenging clinical experiences and world-class education located in the heart of the beautiful city of Chicago. Learn more via the links to the McGaw website below.

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Contact Us

For more information, contact Sandra Downey at 312-695-5800.

Program Director

Cara Angelotta
Cara Angelotta, MD

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