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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Natalie Gukasyan, MD
- Assistant Professor
Natalie Gukasyan, M.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. After receiving her M.D. from Tulane University School of Medicine Dr. Gukasyan completed her internship and residency in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. She went on to complete a NIDA T32 fellowship in behavioral pharmacology under the mentorship of Dr. Roland Griffiths, focusing on safety and efficacy of psilocybin-assisted therapy for people with mood and eating disorders. Before joining the faculty at Columbia, Dr. Gukasyan served as Medical Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, where her research also spanned other clinical aspects of psychedelics including placebo and psychotherapy effects in treatment, as well as medication interactions.
Eyal Kalanthroff, PhD
- Visiting Associate Professor
Eyal Kalanthroff, PhD is a visiting associate professor and licensed clinical psychologist in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. After completing his PhD in clinical psychology and neuropsychology at the Ben-Gurion University (Israel) Dr. Kalanthroff continued to complete his post-doctoral training in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Currently, Dr. Kalanthroff is an associate Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the head of the Clinical Neuropsychology Lab, and the head of the OCD research clinic at the university. Dr. Kalanthroff has received extensive training at various treatment facilities in Israel and in the US, working with patients with various anxiety disorders, PTSD, and OCD. Dr. Kalanthroff's research interest focus on: (a) understanding the underlying neuropsychological mechanisms of various psychopathologies (and transdiagnostic characteristics of psychopathologies), (b) understanding the underlying neuropsychological mechanisms of successful treatments (including psychotherapy and medication), and (c) developing easy to use technological tools that train basic cognitive processes that in turn improve treatment outcomes.
Andreas Bezahler, BS
- Clinical Extern
Andreas Bezahler, BS is a clinical extern in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Andreas earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in 2020, after which he was a clinical research assistant at the OCD Institute at McLean Hospital until 2022, when he matriculated into graduate school. He is currently a second-year doctoral student at Fordham University at the Compulsions, Obsessions, and Anxiety Program. Andreas’ main research foci are on better understanding emotional and cognitive mechanisms that underlie OCD, the role of minority stress on OCD symptom presentation and maintenance, and how to harness novel statistical methods to predict treatment response.
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.
Hannah McManus, BA
- Research Coordinator
Hannah McManus, BA is a Research Coordinator in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Hannah received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Cornell University in 2022. While pursuing her degree she also assisted in research at Boston Childrens Hospital in their chronic pain clinic. After graduating she worked at NYU Langone in their behavioral neuroscience lab focusing on avoidance behaviors in the PTSD population. Hannah is interested in pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology in the future.
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.
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.
Kevin Brea, BS
- Data Manager
Kevin Brea is a Data Manager for the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at NYSPI. Kevin Brea has a bachelor’s in Public Health and Information Technology Management from Syracuse University where he focused on bridging the gap between technology and the healthcare system. Kevin has worked for FDA approved trials at Mount Sinai’s Icahn Medical school and NYC Health and Hospitals. Kevin Brea 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.