The Team

Our center is led by Dr. Helen Blair Simpson (MD, PhD) who is also a Professor of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and an Attending Psychiatrist at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. Simpson is a world-renowned expert in OCD, trained in both the pharmacological and psychological treatment of this disorder. She leads an outstanding team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and research coordinators. Between our therapists, we have decades of experience treating OCD and related disorders. Each is a specialist in OCD and can be considered among the best in the country.

  • ​Helen Blair Simpson, MD, PhD

    Vice Chair and for Research of the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the OCD Research Program

    H. Blair Simpson, MD, PhD is the Director of the OCD Research Program and Vice Chair for Research at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She is also a Professor of Psychiatry at the College of Physician and Surgeons at Columbia University and an Attending Psychiatrist at Columbia-New York Presbyterian Medical Center.

    After graduating from Yale College with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Dr. Simpson entered the MD-PhD program at The Rockefeller University/Cornell University Medical College. For her PhD, she worked on the brain basis of bird song vocalizations in the laboratory of Dr. Fernando Nottebohm. After completing the MD-PhD program, she completed the internship and residency in psychiatry at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

    Since 1996, Dr. Simpson has worked in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic, first as a NIMH Research Fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Liebowitz and now as an independent researcher and Director of the OCD Research Program. Her research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and private foundations, such as the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation and National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (NARSAD). Her interdisciplinary work ranges from clinical trials comparing the effects of medication and therapy in OCD to brain imaging studies examining the brain basis of OCD. As a specialist of OCD, the goal of her work is to improve the outcome of patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

  • ​Marina Gershkovich, PhD

    Clinical Researcher

    Marina Gershkovich, PhD is a clinical researcher and licensed clinical psychologist in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Gershkovich received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University, and her PhD in clinical psychology from Drexel University. She completed her clinical psychology internship at the Boston Consortium, and held academic appointments at the Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Gershkovich has received extensive training in cognitive behavioral treatments for anxiety, OCD, and related disorders. Her clinical training sites have included the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety and the Drexel University’s College of Medicine Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic. Dr. Gershkovich’s research interests focus on treatment outcome and dissemination of evidence-based therapies via telemental health approaches. Dr. Gershkovich is an OCD specialist and currently serves as a study therapist and researcher in the Center for OCD and Related Disorders.

  • Michael Wheaton, PhD

    Clinical Researcher

    Michael Wheaton, PhD is a clinical researcher in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. After completing his undergraduate degree at Cornell University, Dr. Wheaton received his PhD in clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Wheaton completed his clinical psychology internship at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received advanced training in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for adults and children with mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Wheaton has received training at various other treatment facilities, including the UNC-Chapel Hill Anxiety and Stress Disorders Clinic and Central Regional Hospital in North Carolina. Dr. Wheaton's research interests focus on the mechanisms underlying OCD and related disorders and his doctoral dissertation, which explored the psychophysiological correlates of hoarding disorder, was supported by a research grant from the International OCD Foundation. 

    Photo of Michael Wheaton against a gray backgrounf
  • ​Reilly Kayser, MD

    Psychiatrist and Clinical Research Fellow

    Reilly Kayser, MD is a psychiatrist and clinical research fellow in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Kayser received his undergraduate degree from Yale University, where he studied psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience. He spent two years as a pre-doctoral fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health prior to obtaining his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Kayser then completed his residency in psychiatry at Columbia University, where he received clinical training through NYSPI and New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Kayser’s research focuses on the use of novel therapeutic agents to treat OCD symptoms. In particular, he is interested in the role of the endocannabinoid system in OCD and anxiety spectrum disorders. Dr. Kayser is an OCD specialist and serves as a study psychiatrist in the Center for OCD and Related Disorders.

    Dr. Reilly Kayser
  • ​Dianne Hezel, PhD

    Clinical Researcher

    Dianne Hezel, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist and a clinical researcher in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Hezel earned her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her PhD in clinical psychology from Harvard University. She completed her clinical psychology internship at Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital where she received extensive training in cognitive behavioral therapy across a number of disorders. She has also received clinical training at various other sites including the Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital, and the British Columbia Children’s Hospital. Dr. Hezel’s research interests focus on cognitive factors associated with OCD and anxiety disorders. Dr. Hezel is an OCD specialist and currently serves as a study therapist, researcher, and clinical supervisor in the Center for OCD and Related Disorders.

    Picture of Dianne Hezel
  • Amy Rapp, PhD

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    Amy Rapp, PhD is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Rapp received her undergraduate degree from Middlebury College and her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). While at UCLA, she received extensive training in the assessment and treatment of a range of psychological disorders across the lifespan at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, where she also completed her predoctoral clinical internship. Dr. Rapp’s research focuses on understanding neural processes that are involved in the development of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, including OCD.

    A headshot of Dr. Amy Rapp. She has long brown hair and smiling against a navy backdrop. She is wearing a light green top with a black blazer.
  • ​Raphael Campeas, MD

    Research Psychiatrist

    Raphael Campeas, MD is a Research Psychiatrist in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at NYSPI and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Campeas graduated from Mount Sinai Medical School in 1979 and completed his internship in the Adult Internal Medicine at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in NYC. He also completed his residency in Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He has been working at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic since then, where he has extensive experience treating and researching OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) Panic Disorder, Social Phobia, GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and Heightened Illness Concern.

    Dr. Campeas smiles against a white background
  • ​Arturo Sanchez-LaCay, MD, PhD

    Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry

    Arturo Sanchez-LaCay, MD, PhD, MA started at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic in 1987. He received his MD from the University of Puerto Rico, where he specialized in Child Psychiatry. He then received a Masters and PhD in Public Health in Epidemiology from Columbia University. Dr. Sanchez-Lacay is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry.

    Dr. Sanchez-LaCay looks at the camera, with trees and the George Washington Bridge in the background
  • ​Moses Appel, MA

    Clinical Psychology Extern

    Moses Appel, MA, is a clinical psychology extern in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Moses graduated summa cum laude from Touro College with a BA in psychology, and he received his master’s degree in Psychology from Hofstra University. He is currently a 3rd year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Hofstra University, and he is an adjunct professor at Touro College. As a student therapist at Hofstra's Anxiety and Depression Clinic, Moses received extensive training in cognitive behavioral therapy across a number of disorders, as well as training in exposure and response prevention, the gold standard treatment for patients suffering from OCD. He also received training in differential diagnosis as a member of the intake team at Hofstra’s community mental health clinic. Moses’s current research interests include examining underlying factors contributing to successful treatment outcomes for patients suffering from OCD, and furthering the development of evidence based treatments for this population.

  • Meredith Senter, MD

    Psychiatry Resident

    Meredith Senter, MD is a psychiatry resident in the Columbia University / New York State Psychiatric Institute program. Dr. Senter received her undergraduate degree from Brown University, earning a bachelor’s of science in psychology. She spent two years as a research assistant in the OCD clinic at Butler Hospital in Providence, RI, prior to receiving her medical degree from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. She is now in her third year of psychiatry residency training. Dr. Senter is interested in expanding access to evidence-based treatments for people suffering with OCD.  

  • ​Rachel Fremont, MD, PhD

    Psychiatry Resident

    Rachel Fremont, MD, PhD is a psychiatry resident in the Columbia University / New York State Psychiatric Institute program. Dr. Fremont received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, earning a bachelor’s of arts in Biology with a specialization in Neuroscience. She received her MD and PhD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. During her PhD thesis work, she explored the contribution of different brain areas to movement disorders. Dr. Fremont is interested in defining the neural substrate of OCD. Her current research focuses on correlating obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors to regional brain dysfunction in patients with neurodegenerative disorders.

    Photo of Rachel Fremont against a white background
  • Rachel Middleton, BA

    Research Coordinator

    Rachel Middleton, BA is a Research Coordinator in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Rachel received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Temple University in 2015. While there, she also completed a Minor in Anthropology and a Psychology Honors thesis investigating the relation between social media and social anxiety. Following graduation, Rachel took a more clinical route working at Elwyn, Inc. as Therapeutic Staff Support in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) classrooms across Philadelphia, PA. Now looking to get back involved in research, Rachel assists Dr. Simpson in managing NIH funded clinical research studies. She plans to pursue a clinical PhD after her time here.

  • Sarah Altman-Ezzard, BA

    Research Coordinator

    Sarah Altman-Ezzard, BA is a Research Coordinator in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Sarah received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Vassar College in 2019, with a minor in Hispanic Studies. While there, she completed a thesis examining the relationship between hormones and responses to infant crying and caregiving. In the future, she hopes to pursue an MD.

    Picture of Sarah Altman-Ezzard
  • ​Marianne Moore, PMHNP-BC

    Board Certified Nurse Practitioner

    Marianne Moore, a graduate of Columbia University School of Nursing, is a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry. Prior to joining the Anxiety Disorders Clinic, she held positions first as a Consultation-Liaison NP and then as a Patient Care Director at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

    Ms. Marianne Moore pictured against a purple and grey background
  • Page Van Meter, PhD

    Data Manager

    Dr. Page Van Meter is the Senior Data Manager for the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at NYSPI. Dr. Van Meter has a doctorate in Zoology from Michigan State University where she focused on neuroendocrine control of behavior and received training in relational database management. She works across many projects to develop plans to gather quality data to answer specific research questions and designing data input systems focused on ease of use for patients.