UCLA Ecological Medicine & Psychedelic Studies Initiative


Ira Lesser, MD

Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Chair, Department of Psychiatry Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Ira Lesser has been an active investigator since completing his psychiatry residency at Harbor-General Hospital (now Harbor-UCLA Medical Center), working collaboratively with colleagues and receiving funding from federal, state, and industry sources. He is an investigator at The Lundquist Institute, a nonprofit biomedical research organization. Among other research, he was involved in the largest United States clinical trial for depression, overseeing his team who enrolled more subjects than any of the 40 sites across the country, including the highest number of participants from minority backgrounds. Over his career, Ira has served as the Director of the Adult Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic and Director of the residency training program in Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He received his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Ira has authored more than 125 peer-reviewed articles and chapters in books in the fields of mood and anxiety disorders, depression in the geriatric population, and the interface of depression and race/ethnicity. More recently, his publications have focused on educational and administrative issues. For more than 30 years, Ira has chaired the Well-Being of Practitioners Committee at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, is active in efforts to address issues of well-being for trainees and staff, teaches residents, reviews manuscripts for major psychiatric journals, and has been the recipient of several teaching awards from the psychiatry residents at Harbor-UCLA. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, received the Outstanding Achievement Award and President’s Award from the Southern California Psychiatric Society, was an awardee of the Exceptional Physician Award in 2017 from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and honored as a Legend of The Lundquist Institute, which recognizes outstanding researchers for their groundbreaking discoveries and commitment to finding solutions to the world’s most urgent medical problems.