Randy P. Auerbach, PhD

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Dr. Auerbach is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Division of Clinical Developmental Neuroscience. Additionally, he is Director of the Translational Research on Affective Disorders and Suicide Laboratory and serves as Co-Director for the WHO World Mental Health International College Student Initiative. Dr. Auerbach received his BA from Cornell University (2000) and his PhD in clinical psychology from McGill University (2010). Dr. Auerbach’s research is committed to improving our understanding of depression and suicide in adolescents. This work is funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation, the Dana Foundation: Clinical Neuroscience Research Grant, and several private foundations, and to date, it has resulted in over 100 published scientific papers and book chapters. Dr. Auerbach is the recipient of a number of awards, including the David Shakow Early Career Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions in Clinical Psychology, the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Early Career Award, the Theodore Blau Early Career Award, and the Career Development Leadership Award from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at CUMC

Administrative Titles

  • Co-Director, World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health International College Student Initiative


  • Male

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Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BA, 2000 Cornell University
  • PhD, 2010 McGill University
  • Internship: 2010 Harvard Medical School
  • Internship: 2010 Mc Lean Hospital

Honors & Awards

  • Alfred Pope Award for Young Investigators, McLean Hospital (2017)
  • Theodore Blau Early Career Award, American Psychological Foundation (2017)
  • Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Early Career Award (2015)
  • Donald F. Klein Early Career Investigator Award (Honorable Mention) (2015)
  • David Shakow Early Career Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Clinical Psychology (2014)
  • Alies Muskin Career Development Leadership Award (2014)


Adolescent major depressive disorder (MDD) is a serious public health problem associated with significant emotional and socioeconomic burden. By the age of 18, approximately 11% of adolescents will have experienced a depressive episode, and around the age of 15, gender differences in MDD begin to emerge, with girls reporting twice as many depressive episodes as compared to boys—a difference that persists throughout adulthood. These episodes are linked to negative outcomes in adolescence (e.g., academic difficulties, substance use) as well as adulthood (e.g., lower income levels, greater marital conflict, higher incidence of substance use disorders), and approximately 75% of suicide attempters report a history of adolescent depression. Despite these alarming statistics and the subsequent negative sequelae, the etiological mechanisms contributing to the onset of adolescent MDD remain unclear.

To address this critical gap, my research program focuses on identifying psychosocial, behavioral, and neurobiological factors that render certain children, adolescents, and young adults vulnerable to depression. Additionally, my work aims to learn from etiological findings to improve our understanding of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for adolescent MDD, particularly as this may prove helpful for predicting treatment response and understanding why depressive symptoms attenuate in treatment responders. The research is multidisciplinary and utilizes a multimodal approach (e.g., laboratory-based experiments, electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)) to address essential, yet unanswered questions. These include: (1) What behavioral and neural mechanisms underlie adolescent depression? (2) Why do certain individuals who develop depression engage in risky (e.g., substance use, rule-breaking), self-injurious, and/or suicidal behaviors? and (3) What are the factors (e.g., therapeutic relationship, changes in the brain) that contribute to successful CBT interventions? My overarching goal is to improve early identification of and treatment for depression in youth by identifying key underlying mechanisms.

Research Interests

  • cognitive behavior therapy
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors

Selected Publications

Auerbach, R. P., Pisoni, A., Bondy, E., Kumar, P., Stewart, J. G., Yendiki, A., & Pizzagalli, D. A. (2017). Neuroanatomical prediction of anhedonia in adolescents. Neuropsychopharmacology, 42, 2087-2095.

Auerbach, R. P., Alonso, J., Axinn, W. G., Cuijpers, P., Ebert, D., Green, J. G., Hwang, I., Kessler, R. C., Liu, H., Mortier, P., Nock, M. K., Pinder-Amaker, S., Sampson, N., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., Al-Hamzawi, A., Andreade, L. H., Benjet, C., Caldas-de-Almeida, J. M., Demyttenaere, K., Florescu, S., de Girolamo, G., Gureje, O., Haro, J. M., Karam, E., Kiejna, A., Kovess-Masfety, V., Lee, S., McGrath, J., O'Neill, S., Pennell, B.E., Scot, K., ten Have, M., Torres, Y., Zarkov, Z., & Bruffaerts, R. (2016). Mental disorders among college students in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. Psychological Medicine, 46, 2955-2970.

Auerbach, R. P., Stanton, C. H., Proudfit, G. H., & Pizzagalli, D. A. (2015). Self-referential processing in depressed adolescents: A high-density event-related potential study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 124(2), 233-245.

Auerbach, R. P., Stewart, J. G., Stanton, C. H., Mueller, E., & Pizzagalli, D. A. (2015). Emotion processing and resting EEG activity in depressed adolescents. Depression and Anxiety, 32, 693-701.

Auerbach, R. P., Admon, R. & Pizzagalli, D. A. (2014). Adolescent depression: Stress and reward dysfunction. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 22, 139-148.