Message from the Director

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

As we march into spring, all of us here at the Center for OCD and Related Disorders at Columbia would like to thank you for your support as we work to advance our understanding of and treatments for OCD. Here are some updates!

New Studies:

  • Novel therapeutics: We are partnering with Biohaven Pharmaceuticals to investigate the potential efficacy of a novel glutamate modulator. We are recruiting individuals with OCD who are taking an SSRI or clomipramine.
  • New technology: We are studying how a mobile app called nOCD can be used to support the delivery of cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD (exposure and response prevention).
  • New laboratory studies: We are partnering with Drs. Liz Phelps and Cate Hartley to study how people with anxiety cope with threat.

Ongoing Studies:

  • Precision Medicine for OCD: This study seeks to identify genes that may explain why an individual developed OCD and identify which treatments might work best for them.
  • Reproducible brain signatures of OCD: We are excited by the launch of our global collaboration. We are using state of the art imaging methods to examine multiple brain circuits thought to underlie OCD behavior at five expert research sites spanning five countries (U.S., Brazil, India, Netherlands, and South Africa). Identifying brain signatures of measurable behaviors and clinical symptoms will provide robust new treatment targets and help pave the way to precision psychiatry where individual brain signatures can help guide treatment choices.
  • Cannabinoid system and OCD: We are investigating the potential of cannabinoids to reduce OCD symptoms.
  • Exercise and anxiety: We are testing the effect of exercise on brain function and clinical symptoms.

If you know anyone who may be interested in participating in any of our studies or having an expert evaluation, please have them contact a study coordinator at 646-774-8138 or For more information on all of our current studies, visit us at

Thank you in advance to all who participate in our research, refer patients to us, and/or support our cause through donations. With your support, we are empowered to move the field forward. On behalf of everyone on the OCD team, we wish you a wonderful spring.


Helen Blair Simpson, MD, PhD
Vice Chair of Research, New York State Psychiatric Institute
Director of Psychiatric Research, New York State Psychiatric Institute
Director of the Center for OCD and Related Disorders, New York State Psychiatric Institute
Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center
New York State Psychiatric Institute
1051 Riverside Drive, Unit 69, New York, NY 10032