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Miraj U. Desai, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry



In Memoriam: 1982- 2023

Miraj U. Desai, PhD was an Assistant Professor at the Program for Recovery and Community Health of the Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. At Yale, he was also a Fellow of Pierson College, Affiliated Faculty in the Center on Climate Change and Health (Yale School of Public Health), and a Member of the South Asian Studies Council. He had been at Yale since 2011, completing his clinical and postdoctoral fellowships, prior to joining the faculty in 2015. His work focused on the cultural, community, and social justice foundations of mental health.

Dr. Desai lead the Structural Health and Psychology (SHP, or "ship") Lab. The SHP Lab investigates—through multiple methods and community engagement—the structural bases of health, equity, and inequity. This work also involves developing a novel basic and applied science—which his lab calls “structural psychology”—to aid in these efforts. Structural psychology spans the entire translational science spectrum, inclusive of basic, clinical, community, and population health research.

Dr. Desai's scientific work on culture, community, race, and racism has been funded by a range of awards, including a K01 Award from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities/NIH; a Pioneering Ideas Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; a KL2 Scholar Award from the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation/NIH (for research in partnership with local African American faith communities); and a NIMH Supplement for Minority Health and Mental Health Disparities Research (for research featuring Asian and Latinx communities). Dr. Desai’s book, Travel and Movement in Clinical Psychology: The World Outside the Clinic (Palgrave), with Foreword by Jeffrey Sachs, examines the relationship between mental health and various forms of structural oppression.

Dr. Desai was a recipient of the Melba J.T. Vasquez Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions (American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program); the Distinguished Early Career Contributions in Qualitative Inquiry Award (APA Division of Quantitative and Qualitative Methods); and the Sidney Jourard Award (APA Society for Humanistic Psychology). He was a Minority Fellow of the APA and was named a 40 Under 40 Leader in Health by the National Minority Quality Forum. Dr. Desai was a practitioner of Zen and is proficient in Gujarati, French, and Hindi.

Education & Training

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship
    Yale School of Medicine/West Haven VA (2014)
  • Predoctoral Fellowship
    Yale School of Medicine (2012)
  • PhD
    Fordham University (2012)
  • MA
    Fordham University (2008)
  • BA
    Miami University (2005)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Michael Dinoff Memorial LectureUniversity of Alabama Department of Psychology2023
40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority HealthNational Minority Quality Forum2022
Distinguished Early Career Contributions in Qualitative Inquiry AwardAmerican Psychological Association, Division of Quantitative and Qualitative Methods2019
Certificate of Outstanding RecognitionYale Office of Sustainability2019
Melba J.T. Vasquez Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions in ResearchAmerican Psychological Association, Minority Fellowship Program2018

Departments & Organizations