The Team

OCD team members sitting in a field, physically distanced.
Check out our team physically distancing in Central Park!

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

    • Interim Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
    • Interim Director, New York State Psychiatric Institute
    • Interim Psychiatrist-in-Chief, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
    • Director of the Center for OCD and Related Disorders, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University

    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.

  • ​Dianne Hezel, PhD

    • Program Manager

    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. As Program Manager of the Center for OCD and Related Disorders, Dr. Hezel oversees the coordination of various lab projects and serves as a clinical researcher and supervisor. 

    Picture of Dianne Hezel
  • ​Reilly Kayser, MD

    • Medical Director

    Dr. Kayser is a psychiatrist and clinical researcher whose research focuses on identifying and testing novel therapeutic strategies to treat OCD symptoms. He has a particular interest in the brain’s endocannabinoid system, including its role in the pathophysiology underlying OCD and anxiety disorders and its potential as a treatment target for these conditions. 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 (NIMH) prior to obtaining his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine. He then completed his psychiatry residency and an NIMH T32 research fellowship in affective, anxiety, and related disorders at Columbia University Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute. As Medical Director of the Center for OCD and Related Disorders, Dr. Kayser is involved in coordinating the Center’s various clinical research projects and serves as a study psychiatrist and clinical supervisor. He currently leads a study that uses neuroimaging, psychophysiology, and behavioral measures to examine the effects of nabilone (an FDA-approved ECS modulator) on fear learning in adults with OCD.

    Dr. Reilly Kayser
  • Sapana R. Patel, PhD

    • Director of Services and Implementation Research

    Dr. Patel is a licensed clinical health psychologist and mental health services researcher whose work focuses on the improvement of quality and access to care for individuals with serious mental illness. Dr. Patel received her undergraduate degree from Boston University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Hispanic Languages and Literature. She received her PhD from Yeshiva University. Trained as a clinician-scientist, Dr. Patel completed an internship at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) T32 postdoctoral research fellowship at Columbia University and a NIMH/Veteran’s Affairs- funded R25 fellowship in implementation science at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research focuses on 1)  improving behavioral health and the quality of behavioral health services for individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder; and 2) advancing the study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of evidence-based practices into routine practice to improve the quality and effectiveness of health services (i.e., implementation science). Dr. Patel leads the IMPACT-OCD initiative, a statewide workforce development program in collaboration with the Center for OCD and Related Disorders, Center for Practice Innovations and the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYS-OMH).

    Click here to learn more about Dr. Patel’s publications on the quality of care in OCD.

    Picture of Sapana Patel
  • 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
  • Amy Rapp, PhD

    • Assistant Professor, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

    Amy Rapp, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Assistant Professor at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Dr. Rapp received her undergraduate degree from Middlebury College and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA, where she was the recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) F31 National Research Service Award. She completed a NIMH T32 Postdoctoral Training Fellowship in the Center for OCD and Related Disorders in the Department of Psychiatry at NYSPI. Dr. Rapp is currently the Principal Investigator of a research study funded by the International OCD Foundation that focuses on understanding neural and cognitive processes that contribute to compulsive behaviors in individuals with 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.
  • Stephanie Grimaldi, PhD

    • Postdoctoral Fellow

    Stephanie Grimaldi, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Grimaldi earned her undergraduate degree from St. John’s University, master’s degree from Teachers College Columbia University, and PhD in clinical psychology from Hofstra University. She has trained in various research and clinical settings including the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Center for OCD and Related Disorders at NYSPI, Zucker Hillside Hospital at Northwell Health, and completed her predoctoral clinical internship at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center. Dr. Grimaldi has extensive experience implementing cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of OCD, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. Her research interests include examining sensory intolerances in OCD and optimizing evidence-based treatments for OCD and anxiety disorders.

  • Marité Horton, BS

    • Research Coordinator

    Marité Horton, BS is a Research Coordinator in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Marité received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and neuroscience from Haverford College in 2021. While there, she completed a research thesis in behavioral neuroscience investigating the impact of peripartum estrogen fluctuations on sleep behaviors and serotonergic neuroplasticity. Marité is interested in pursuing a MD in the future.

    Picture of Marité Horton
  • Gabriella Restifo-Bernstein, BA

    • Research Coordinator

    Gabriella Restifo-Bernstein, BA is a Research Coordinator in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Gabriella received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and neuroscience from Skidmore College in 2022. While there, she completed a research thesis in behavioral neuroscience investigating the impact of the pharmacological manipulation of distress on altruistic behavior. Gabriella is interested in pursuing a PhD or MD in the future.  

    Photo of Gabriella Restifo-Bernstein
  • Ana Ruiz-Melendez, BS

    • Research Coordinator

    Ana Ruiz-Melendez, BS is a Research Coordinator in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Ana received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Miami in 2022. While there, she completed a research honors thesis in psychology investigating emotion-related impulsivity as a mediator in the association between childhood adversity and hoarding symptoms. Ana is interested in pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology in the future.

    Photo of Ana Ruiz-Melendez
  • Michal Clayton, BA

    • Clinical Extern

    Michal is a fourth-year PhD student in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received a BA in psychology from Brown University and worked at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) with children and adolescents experiencing irritability, anxiety, and ADHD before beginning her PhD. Her research interests involve the role of emotion regulation in treatment efficacy for cognitive behavioral interventions. Michal has received specialized training in the delivery of cognitive behavioral therapy across multiple disorders, including anxiety, depression, and OCD. She is a study therapist with the Center for OCD and Related Disorders.

  • ​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.

  • ​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