Message from the Director

Dear Colleagues and Friends,                                                                                       

We hope you are all enjoying the warm weather! As we head into the Summer, all of us 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 have partnered with Biohaven Pharmaceuticals to investigate the efficacy of a novel medication that affects the brain’s glutamate system. We are seeking individuals with OCD who are taking an SRI, and still experiencing clinically significant symptoms.
  • State-of-the-art technology: In collaboration with nOCD, we are investigating the feasibility of a mobile application for cognitive behavioral therapy. With therapist guidance, individuals with OCD can access support and therapeutic techniques on the go from their phone.
  • Laboratory studies: With our partners, Drs. Liz Phelps and Cate Hartley, we are investigating avoidance behaviors in those with anxiety or OCD.

Ongoing studies:

  • Precision Medicine for OCD: This study seeks to identify genes that may explain why an individual developed OCD and to identify which treatments might work best for them.
  • Brain signatures of OCD: In collaboration with OCD experts across five countries, we are using imaging methods to examine multiple brain circuits thought to underlie OCD behavior. Identifying brain signatures of OCD will provide robust new treatment targets and help pave the way to precision psychiatry where individual brain signatures can help guide treatment choices.
  • Cannabinoids and OCD: We are investigating the effects of cannabinoids on OCD symptoms.

If you know anyone who may be interested in participating in our studies, please have them contact a study coordinator at 646-774-8062 or

In addition, we’re excited to welcome new members to our team: psychology extern Moses Appel, M.A. from Hofstra University; and Research coordinator Sarah Altman-Ezzard, B.A. from Vassar College.

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, let’s advance the field! On behalf of the OCD team, we wish you a wonderful Summer.


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