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
- Vice Chair and for Research of the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the OCD Research Program
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.
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.
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.
Marina Gershkovich, PhD
- Clinical Researcher
Marina Gershkovich, PhD 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 PhD 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 extensive training in cognitive behavioral treatments for anxiety, OCD, and related disorders. 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 researcher in the Center for OCD and Related Disorders. Dr. Gershkovich is also part of a statewide training initiative to improve the quality and access to care for individuals with OCD (IMPACT-OCD: https://practiceinnovations.org/I-want-to-learn-about/IMPACT-OCD).
Amy Rapp, PhD
- Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Amy Rapp, PhD 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 PhD 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.
- Research Coordinator
Gabrielle Messner, BA is a Research Coordinator in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Gabrielle received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Barnard College of Columbia University in 2020. While there, she completed a research thesis examining the relationship between response inhibition and contamination fear in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Gabrielle is interested in pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology in the future.
- 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.
- 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.
- Volunteer Research Assistant
Marta Jagodzinski, BS is a Volunteer Research Assistant in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Marta received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the CUNY College of Staten Island in 2020. Marta is currently in a master's program in counseling psychology and is interested in pursuing a PsyD in clinical psychology in the future.
- Volunteer Research Assistant
Melanie Carcamo, BS is a Volunteer Research Assistant in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Melanie earned her bachelor's degree in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2021. Melanie is interested in understanding neural mechanisms of behavior and mental disorders. Melanie plans to pursue a PhD in the future.
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.
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.
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.