Primary Faculty

Ronald L. Cowan, Ph.D., M.D.

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Professor of Psychology
Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences

M.D., Cornell University Medical College
Ph.D., University of Tennessee Center for Health Science (Anatomy and Neurobiology)
B.S., Christian Brothers University

Brief Bio
Dr.Ronald Cowan has been a member of the faculty since 2002. Dr. Cowan is a graduate of the Weill Cornell Medical School. He completed his internship in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and a residency in adult psychiatry at The McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center with a focus on in vivo intracellular neurophysiology of neocortex. Dr. Cowan is the Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Adult Residency Training program. Prior to his current roles, Dr. Cowan served as a course co-director for the first year medical school's neuroscience course (Brain and Behavior) and as the third year psychiatry clerkship director. Dr. Cowan's research program focuses on neuroimaging of disorders of motivated behavior, including substance use disorders, obesity, sexual addiction, and pain.

Clinical Interests
Adult psychiatry; LGBTI psychiatry; Consultation Liaison Psychiatry; Depression; Anxiety; Obesity

Research Interests
Reward circuitry, Monoamine circuitry, Neuroimaging, Neurophysiology, Substance Use, Obesity, Sexual Addiction, Pain

Representative publications

  1. Watkins TJ, Di Iorio CR, Olatunji BO, Benningfield MM, Blackford JU, Dietrich MS, Bhatia M, Theiss JD, Salomon RM, Niswender K, Cowan RL. Disgust proneness and associated neural substrates in obesity. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience 2016 Mar;11(3):458-65. PMID: 26454815 PMCID: PMC4769631.
  2. Chodkowski BA, Cowan RL, Niswender KD. Imbalance in Resting State Functional Connectivity is Associated with Eating Behaviors and Adiposity in Children. Heliyon 2016 Jan;2(1):e00058. PMID: 26878067 PMCID: PMC4750053.
  3. Monroe TB, Gibson SJ, Bruehl SP, Gore JC, Dietrich MS, Newhouse P, Atalla S, Cowan RL. Contact heat sensitivity and reports of unpleasantness in communicative people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's disease: a cross-sectional study. BMC medicine 2016; 14:74. PMID: 27164846 PMCID: PMC4863331.
  4. Weinstein JJ, Rogers BP, Taylor WD, Boyd BD, Cowan RL, Shelton KM, Salomon RM. Effects of acute tryptophan depletion on raphé functional connectivity in depression. Psychiatry research 2015 Nov;234(2):164-71. PMID: 26411798 PMCID: PMC4631618.
  5. Di Iorio CR, Watkins TJ, Dietrich MS, Cao A, Blackford JU, Rogers B, Ansari MS, Baldwin RM, Li R, Kessler RM, Salomon RM, Benningfield M, Cowan RL. Evidence for chronically altered serotonin function in the cerebral cortex of female 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine polydrug users. Archives of general psychiatry 2012 Apr;69(4):399-409. PMID: 22147810 PMCID: PMC3538835.

PubMed Listing of Vanderbilt Publications