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Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship

Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship
600 E. Genesee Street
Suite 217
600 East Genesee Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
Google Maps & Directions
Phone: 315 464-9161
Fax: 315 464-3141
Name: Tolani Ajagbe, MD, Program Administrator
Email: [email protected]

SUNY Upstate Medical University/ Crouse Health Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship offers a ACGME supported, conventional one year (PGY 5) program available to candidates who completed a 4-year psychiatry residency program. As a fellow, you develop expertise in clinical, academic, and research aspects of addiction psychiatry.

SUNY Upstate Medical University/Crouse Health also offers a nonconventional, ACGME- supported interdisciplinary fellowship that provides training and education for a diverse group of healthcare professionals, including those with backgrounds in Addiction Medicine and Addiction Psychiatry.

The academic curriculum and clinical rotations of both programs aim to help fellows develop skills and expertise in the areas of substance use disorders (SUD), co-occurring SUD and psychiatric disorders, and the SUD prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services.

Program Overview


In synchrony with SUNY Upstate’s Mission to improve the health of the communities we serve through education, biomedical research and patient care, the mission of Upstate Addiction Medicine/ Crouse Health is to improve the health of the communities we serve by working together with all members of our community to enhance health and to assist those battling substance use disorders. The program’s research is designed to study this field to lead to innovations for optimal care of patients at Upstate and disseminate this information to our colleagues.


Our educational purpose is to train psychiatry addiction fellows in the fundamentals of addiction psychiatry including (1) the elements of specific treatments for Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) and (2) assessment and treatment of psychiatric disorders in the presence of comorbid SUDs.

  • Fellows will learn how to assess and diagnose substance abuse disorders (SUDs).
  • Fellows will learn the basics of inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment modalities and services, focusing on the continuum of care for SUDs, including utilization of community services.
  • Fellows will learn principles of diagnosis of other psychiatric disorders in the context of SUDs.
  • Fellows will learn how to apply evidence-based pharmacological treatments for psychiatric disorders in the context of SUDs. The emphasis is on safety of medication use in the presence of multiple behavioral and medical comorbidities.
  • Fellows will learn various psychosocial modalities of treatment (CBT, MI, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and etc).
  • At the end of the Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, the fellow will be able to function independently as an Addiction Psychiatrist, able to treat Addiction related conditions including those with cooccurring psychiatric and medical disorders.

Our fellows are evaluated based on the six core competencies outlined by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME):

  • Patient care and procedural skills
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Practice-based learning and improvement
  • Medical knowledge
  • Professionalism
  • Systems-based practice

Program Core Clinical Sites:

  • SUNY Upstate Medical University
  • Crouse Health
  • Helio Health
  • ACR Health and/or Prevention Network

Substance Use Disorder Services at Crouse Health/ SUNY Upstate/ Helio Health

  • Outpatient Addiction Treatment Services Rotation: SUNY Upstate/Crouse Health/Helio Health
  • Outpatient Co-occurring Disorder Program Rotation: SUNY Upstate/Crouse Health/Helio Health
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Program Rotation: Crouse Health/Helio Health
  • Inpatient Detoxification Program Rotation: Helio Health
  • Inpatient Addiction and Toxicology Consultation Services Rotation: SUNY Upstate/Crouse Health
  • Emergency Department Suboxone Bridge Clinic Rotation: SUNY Upstate/Crouse Health
  • Day Treatment Program and Outpatient Treatment Services: Crouse Health/ Helio Health
  • Outpatient Neuropsychoanalytic Addiction Treatment Program Rotation: SUNY Upstate
  • Motivational Interviewing Nicotine Dependence (MIND) Smoking Cessation Program: Crouse Health
  • Residential Treatment Program Rotation: Helio Health (Elements)

Prevention Services through Crouse Health and ACR Health

  • Overdose Prevention and Educational Training
  • Naloxone Training and Distribution
  • Fentanyl and Xylazine Testing Program
  • Hepatitis C Screening, Education, Referral and Treatment
  • Syringe Exchange Program

Harm Reduction Services

  • Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program
  • Buprenorphine Maintenance Program

Scholarly Activity/Research

We strongly encourage all fellows to participate in scholarly activity with activities involving Journal Club, Case Conferences, Didactics, and Research/ QI projects. It is a graduation requirement that fellows complete a research and/or QI project during the course of their training, under the mentorship of our faculty.

Program Faculty

Tolani Ajagbe, MD, FASM Dr. Tolani Ajagbe, MD, FASAM
Program Director, Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, and Interim Division Chief of Addiction Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University. He also serves as the Chief of Psychiatry and Medical Director, Addiction Treatment Services at Crouse Hospital, Syracuse, New York.

Dr. Ajagbe earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He completed his residency training in General Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University, followed by a clinical fellowship in Addiction Psychiatry at the same institution. He is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, board certified in General Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine. Dr. Ajagbe is a fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. His major clinical areas of interest include pharmacotherapy of Opioid Use Disorder and Co-occurring Disorders. He serves on the Onondaga County Drug Task Force.

Dr Kevin Johnson Dr. Kevin Johnson

Addiction Psychiatrist and Transgender Health Specialist at Crouse Health

Kevin Johnson, MD (he/him) is an addiction psychiatrist at Crouse Addiction Treatment Services and a graduate of the fellowship. His clinical work and research focuses on addressing mental health disparities within gender-diverse communities and on increasing access to gender-confirmation surgery.

Dr. Brian Johnson Dr. Brian Johnson

Clinical Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry. Former Director of Addiction Psychiatry and Pain Medicine.

Brian Johnson M.D. is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University and former Director of Addiction Medicine. He came to Upstate after almost three decades at Harvard Medical School. He has published a book, 51 papers, and 7 book chapters on topics related to addiction. His book on drugs for teenagers is available at Amazon by searching for “Johnson” and “Zombie.” TEDx Talk on Discoveries of Addiction Medicine.

Dr. Abhinav Sharma, MD, DAPBN, FRCPC, DAAAP Dr. Abhinav Sharma, MD, DAPBN, FRCPC, DAAAP

Medical Director of the Psychiatry Consultation and Addiction Consult Services at Crouse Hospital

Dr. Abhinav Sharma is a fellowship-trained Addiction Psychiatrist and the current Medical Director of the Psychiatry Consultation and Addiction Consult Services at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, New York.

After attending East Carolina University in North Carolina for his general psychiatry residency, he completed his Addiction Psychiatry fellowship at the University of Miami. He then returned to his hometown of Hamilton, Canada and worked in both academics and private practice for several years before moving to Syracuse.

Dr. Sharma has been heavily involved in both medical student and resident level education throughout his years and was recognized by McMaster University for his Excellence in Teaching. He has an interest in global psychiatry with a focus on maximizing mental health and addiction services in rural, underserved areas.

Dr. Sharma is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.

Dr. Sunny Aslam Dr. Sunny Aslam

Director of Psychiatric and Addiction Services at Syracuse Community Health

Dr. Sunny Aslam is a triple board-certified community, addiction and general psychiatrist who focuses on providing access to high quality psychiatric and addiction treatment in Syracuse, NY.

Dr. Aslam provides treatment and training to those interested in a public health model for vulnerable populations (with a focus on psychotherapy, but offers all forms of treatment). Dr. Aslam is committed to access to care, providing psychotherapy to get root causes of trauma and dysfunctional relationships and self care. Dr. Aslam has an interest in recovery oriented care, supported employment, homeless/street outreach and training of mental health and addiction treatment therapists and prescribers.

Dr. Zsuzsa Meszaros Dr. Zsuzsa Meszaros

Professor of Psychiatry and Residency Program Director at SUNY Upstate

Zsuzsa S. Meszaros, MD PhD is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of MIND Online recovery program at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Norton School of Medicine in Syracuse NY. She graduated from Semmelweis University School of Medicine in Budapest, Hungary with a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and postdoctoral training in Clinical Pharmacology and Addiction Research. She is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine. Her research interests include pharmacotherapy of nicotine and alcohol dependence in schizophrenia. Her clinical interests include motivational interviewing and neuropsychiatric lupus. She has over 15 years of experience in conducting controlled clinical trials on patients with co-occurring schizophrenia and alcohol and nicotine dependence. She served as Residency Program Director from 2016-2023.

Dr. Ross Sullivan Dr. Ross Sullivan

Director of Medical Toxicology and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at SUNY Upstate. Executive Medical Director at Helio Health

Ross Sullivan, MD, FASAM completed his medical school education at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. After, he entered and finished a residency in Emergency Medicine at the same hospital. Dr. Sullivan then completed a medical toxicology fellowship at the SUNY Upstate Poison Control Center and SUNY Upstate Emergency Department. Dr. Sullivan is also board certified in Addiction Medicine and is currently the fellowship director of the medical toxicology fellowship. He also is the director of the Upstate Emergency Medicine Opioid Bridge Clinic; the aim of this program is to initiate buprenorphine in the ED with prompt referral to an ED based clinic where patients are treated and referred to community settings. Dr. Sullivan is also the medical director for Helio Health, a community not-for-profit that offers substance use and psychiatric treatment.

Dr. Sullivan has authored several publications related to overdose and addiction, including “Cardiac conduction disturbance after loperamide abuse”, “Synthetic Cannabinoid Withdrawal”, “Baclofen overdose mimicking brain death”, and “A randomized usability assessment of simulated naloxone administration by community members.” Dr. Sullivan currently is a member of the Medical Advisory Panel to NY-OASAS (Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse), the NY-DOH buprenorphine work group, as well as a member of his local drug-task force.

Dr Kola Alao Dr. Kola Alao

Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate

Dr. Alao has been on the faculty, department of Psychiatry at the SUNY Upstate Medical University since 1998 and worked as a Polytrauma and Rehabilitation Psychiatrist for 10 years at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. With over 35 years clinical experience as a physician, he has been named as one of the Best Doctors in United States yearly since 2007. He has more than 100 publications and presentations in scientific journals and he is passionate about mentoring medical students, residents and treating Military Veterans. He is medical student advisor at the Keuka learning community at the SUNY Upstate Medical University. His clinical interests include Consultation Liaison Psychiatry (he was the founding program director of the fellowship in Psychosomatic medicine at SUNY), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and Addiction Medicine. He is board certified in Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine, Addiction Medicine and Administrative Psychiatry. Dr. Alao believes in Holistic Treatment focusing on healing the mind, body and soul and not only in prescription medications. Dr. Alao is also certified by the American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM).


We feature Individual supervision with core faculty weekly along with quarterly meetings with program director and core faculty to review fellow performance and evaluate program quality.


At SUNY Upstate/ Crouse Health we have fellows learn teaching skills by leading a fellow seminar.

Application Process

  • In unification with Addiction Psychiatry fellowships throughout the country, we are now using the ERAS system for the application process.
  • We will be utilizing the NRMP Match for candidate selection.
  • For more information, please visit the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) Fellowship website, the ERAS website, and the NRMP Match website.

ACGME Program ID

The following material is required for your application to be considered complete in ERAS:

  • CV
  • Personal Statement
  • Three Letter of Recommendation (One must be from your Residency Program Director)
  • USMLE transcript
  • MSPE
  • Medical School Transcript
  • Residency Diploma, when available
  • International medical graduates who wish to apply to our fellowship must also submit the following documents:
    • A valid Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates® (ECFMG®) certificate
    • Proof of visa status or U.S. citizenship

Eligibility for Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship

Individuals accepted into the Addiction Psychiatry subspecialty training program must have satisfactorily completed an ACGME-accredited residency in psychiatry and either have evidence of state licensure or have licensure upon matriculation. A valid unrestricted New York State medical license and individual DEA number are required. A buprenorphine waiver is also required by the start of the fellowship.

Position availability

We have 2 one-year positions available each year with Addiction Psychiatry Fellowships beginning in July each academic year. Currently, we have 2 positions available for the 2023- 2024 academic year post-match. Please email our Addiction Fellowship Coordinator if interested ([email protected]).

Interview process

After receipt of completed ERAS application, selected candidates will be contacted to schedule an interview with our faculty


Graduates are eligible to take the Addiction Psychiatry Subspecialty Certification Exam offered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Diversity and Inclusion

Our Program strongly supports and promotes the missions on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. SUNY Upstate has a long history of inclusion in which we celebrate and pay tribute to Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell as the first woman to receive an M.D. degree from an American medical school (at SUNY Upstate), and to Dr. Sarah Loguen Fraser, who grew up in Syracuse and went on to become one of the nation’s first African American women physicians.

For more information regarding diversity and inclusion, see our links below.