Alan Brown, MD

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Alan S. Brown, M.D., M.P.H. is Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health. He is Director of the Program in Birth Cohort Studies at Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Brown earned his undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University and received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College. He completed his residency training in psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in schizophrenia research at Columbia, and received his M.P.H. degree in epidemiology from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Dr. Brown’s main area of research is on the identification of early antecedents for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism. Among his major findings, he was the first to demonstrate that serologically documented prenatal exposure to influenza, rubella, toxoplasmosis, and inflammatory biomarkers are potential risk factors for schizophrenia.

He leads 2 NIH-funded research grants aimed at identifying risk factors for schizophrenia and autism in a large national Finnish birth cohort, in collaboration with Turku University and THL in Finland. He also leads a large birth cohort study on the antecedents of bipolar disorder in northern California. Additionally, Dr. Brown leads a Conte Center Project on prenatal SSRIs and neuropsychiatric outcomes in Finland. He is on the core faculty of several research fellowships and has mentored over 30 trainees.

He is the recipient of several awards in clinical psychiatric research, including the A.E. Bennett Research Award. He has received numerous research grants as PI from the NIMH, NIEHS, NARSAD, and other funding agencies. He is a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the WPA Section on Epidemiology.

Dr. Brown is an author or co-author of over 140 peer-reviewed publications, reviews, and book chapters.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Psychiatry at CUMC
  • Professor of Epidemiology at CUMC

Administrative Titles

  • Director, Unit in Birth Cohort Studies , New York State Psychiatric Institute

Hospital Affiliations

  • NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia University Irving Medical Center


  • Male

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I am interested in improving our understanding of the relationship between early developmental insults and risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism, as well as the effects of these insults on brain structure and function.

There are several ongoing research projects in my Program. First, we are investigating the relationship between prenatal, perinatal, and childhood environmental exposures and risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism. Second, we are examining the relationship between these risk factors and brain structure, using MRI, and brain function, using comprehensive neuropsychological tests.

To achieve these objectives, we have obtained access to several unique national and international birth cohorts with prospectively acquired data and excellent follow-up. Our work thus far has provided the first serologic evidence for prenatal infectious and nutritional influences in schizophrenia, and has identified several additional novel risk factors for schizophrenia. In addition, I am leading studies of prenatal SSRI exposure in relation to neuropsychiatric outcomes including depression, anxiety, and perinatal complications. Moreover, I am pursuing translational research on maternal immune activation and GABAergic circuitry in mice models. I am leading many studies in progress in these areas and there is considerable potential for the development of future research projects on environmental and genetic etiologies of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism.

Research Interests

  • Psychosis and Psychotic Disorders
  • Relationship between early developmental insults/risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism
  • The effects of these insults on brain structure and function.

Selected Publications

  • Brown AS, Begg MD, Gravenstein S, Schaefer CA, Wyatt RJ, Bresnahan MA, Babulas V, Susser ES: Serologic evidence for prenatal influenza in the etiology of schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry 2004;61: 774-780
  • Perrin MA, Chen H, Sandberg DE, Malaspina D, Brown AS: Growth trajectory during early life and risk of schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry 2007;191: 512-520
  • Brown AS, Vinogradov S, Kremen WS, Poole JH, Deicken RF, Penner JD, McKeague IW, Kochetkova A, Kern D, Schaefer CA: Prenatal exposure to maternal infection and executive dysfunction in adult schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry 2009;166: 683-690
  • Harper K, Hibbeln JR, Deckelbaum R, Bresnahan M, Quesenberry CA, Schaefer CA, Brown AS: Maternal serum docosahexaenoic acid and schizophrenia spectrum disorders in adult offspring. Schizophrenia Research 2011;128: 30-36
  • Brown AS, Cohen P, Harkavy-Friedman J, Babulas V, Malaspina D, Gorman JM, Susser ES: A.E. Bennett Research Award. Prenatal rubella, premorbid abnormalities, and adult schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry 2001;49: 473-486