The Team

Our center is led by Dr. Helen Blair Simpson (M.D., Ph.D.) 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.

Photo of eleven members of the team, sitting at a brown table.

 

Dr. Simpson pictured against a grey blue backdrop

Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D.

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

H. Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D. 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.

Dr. H. Blair Simpson's Publications in NLM's PubMed

You can also follow Dr. H. Blair Simpson on LinkedIn

See Dr. H. Blair Simpson discuss OCD on NAMI TV

 

Dr. Gershkovich looks at the camera with a view of trees and the George Washington Bridge in the background

Marina Gershkovich, Ph.D.
Marina Gershkovich, Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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.

 

 

 

Professor Michael Wheaton

Michael Wheaton, Ph.D.

Michael Wheaton, Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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. Dr. Wheaton is an OCD specialist that serves as a study therapist in the Center for OCD and Related Disorders.

 

 

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Reilly Kayser, M.D.

Reilly Kayser, M.D. 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. Dianne Hezel pictured with the George Washington bridge in the background

Dianne Hezel, Ph.D.

Dianne Hezel, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Hezel earned her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her Ph.D. 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 and researcher in the Center for OCD and Related Disorders.

 

 

 

 

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.
Amy Rapp, Ph.D. 

Amy Rapp, Ph.D. 

Amy Rapp, Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Campeas smiles against a white background

Raphael Campeas, M.D.
Dr. Raphael Campeas 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. Sanchez-LaCay looks at the camera, with trees and the George Washington Bridge in the background

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moses Appel, M.A.

Moses Appel, M.A., 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 B.A. 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 Ph.D. 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, M.D.

Meredith Senter, M.D. 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.  

 

 

 

 

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Rachel Fremont, M.D., Ph.D.

Rachel Fremont, M.D., Ph.D. 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 M.D. and Ph.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. During her Ph.D. 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.

 

 

 

Ms. Rachel Middleton pictured against a blue and grey backdrop

Rachel Middleton, B.A.
Rachel Middleton, B.A. 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 Ph.D. after her time here.

 

 

 

Sarah Altman-Ezzard, B.A.

Sarah Altman-Ezzard 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 M.D.

Ms. Marianne Moore pictured against a purple and grey background

Marianne Moore, PMHNP-BC
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.