Columbia University Medical Center
Top Ranked in the Nation in Research Funding
and Patient Care
U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals
National Institutes of Health
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell

Key Staff of the OCD Program

Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D.

Executive Director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic (ADC) and Director of the OCD Research Program

H. Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D. is the Director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic (ADC) and OCD Research Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She is also a Professor of Clinical 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.

Dr. H. Blair Simpson's Publications in NLM's PubMed

You can also follow Dr. H. Blair Simpson on LinkedIn

See Dr. H. Blair Simpson discuss OCD on NAMI TV


Andrew B. Schmidt, Ph.D., LCSW
Andrew B. Schmidt, PhD, LCSW earned a PhD in Social Welfare from Hunter College and a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from New York University. Dr. Schmidt is a licensed psychotherapist in New York City and specializes in evidence based treatments (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Habit Reversal). He has worked at the OCD Center at Columbia University Medical Center/New York State Psychiatric Institute since 2000 as a Project Director, Psychotherapist and Clinical Researcher. Dr. Schmidt also teaches Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the post-masters advanced clinical treatment program at New York University and in the MSW program at Hunter College.


Michael Wheaton, Ph.D.
Michael Wheaton, Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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. Dr. Wheaton is an OCD specialist that serves as a study therapist in the Center for OCD and Related Disorders.


Marina Gershkovich, Ph.D.
Marina Gershkovich, Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 received extensive training in cognitive behavioral treatments for anxiety, OCD, and related disorders. Her clinical training sites have included the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety and the Drexel University’s College of Medicine Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic. 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 study therapist and researcher in the Center for OCD and Related Disorders.


Reilly Kayser, M.D.
Reilly Kayser, M.D. is a psychiatry resident in the Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute program. 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 prior to obtaining his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Kayser is currently in his 3rd year of psychiatry residency, through which he has received clinical training at both NYSPI and New York Presbyterian Hospital. As a research track resident, Dr. Kayser has particular interests in development and the use of novel therapeutic agents in the treatment of OCD.


Ívar Snorrason, Ph.D.
Ívar Snorrason, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral clinical researcher in the OCD team at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Snorrason earned his bachelors and masters degrees in psychology from the University of Iceland. He then went on to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Dr. Snorrason received clinical training in the OC spectrum disorder specialty clinic at UWM, and in the OCD Center at Rogers Memorial Hospital. He then completed a clinical internship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center/VA consortium. Dr. Snorrason’s research focuses on the etiology and treatment of OCD and OC-related disorders including trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder) and excoriation (skin-picking) disorder.


Najate Ojeil, M.A., LMHC
Najate Ojeil, M.A, LMHC, is a research scientist in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and a research worker in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. She received a double Masters in clinical psychology from the Lebanese University. Prior to joining the anxiety disorder clinic, Mrs.Ojeil served as a chief of assessments and evaluations at the Division of Translational Imaging at NYSPI/CUMC. She received extensive training in different modalities and scales of diagnostic interviews and clinical assessments. Mrs. Ojeil is a licensed mental health counselor who works also in private practice and serves as a consultant for Intra Cellular Therapy in the quality control of ratings. She has lectured extensively for support groups, designed and presented TV episodes regarding mental health, as well as organized and conducted workshops with international experts in Lebanon. Mrs.Ojeil is fluent in English, French and Arabic.


Raphael Campeas, M.D.
Dr. Raphael Campeas 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, M.D.
Dr. Sanchez-LaCay started at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic in 1987. He received his M.D. from the University of Puerto Rico, where he specialized in Child Psychiatry. He then received a Masters and Ph.D in Public Health in Epidemiology from Columbia University. Dr. Sanchez-Lacay is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry.




Marianne Moore, PMHNP-BC
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.



Stephanie Chen, B.A.
Stephanie Chen, B.A., is a Research Assistant and is currently working on a study relating to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI). Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Psychology. Prior to joining the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at NYSPI, she coordinated a joint-project study on medication adherence at Mount Sinai Hospital and Columbia University. Stephanie’s research interest is finding most effective treatments for anxiety disorders. After gaining experience in researching anxiety disorders, Stephanie hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.


Rachel Middleton, B.A.
Rachel Middleton, B.A. is a Research Coordinator in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Rachel received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Temple University in 2015. While there, she also completed a Minor in Anthropology and a Psychology Honors thesis investigating the relation between social media and social anxiety. Following graduation Rachel took a more clinical route working at Elwyn, Inc. as Therapeutic Staff Support in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) classrooms across Philadelphia, PA. Now looking to get back involved in research, Rachel assists Dr. Simpson in managing several clinical research studies. She plans to pursue a clinical Ph.D. after her time here.


Yael Stovetzky, B.S.
Yael Stovetzky, B.S. is a Research Coordinator in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Yael received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University, where she studied neurobiology. While there, she was awarded a research fellowship to study medial prefrontal cortex changes related to chronic early life stress. During her senior year, Yael embarked on a clinical path assisting in a study of cognitive self-regulation strategies in preadolescent youths. Yael currently coordinates several studies which aim to expend our knowledge of anxiety treatments and individualize therapy through the identification of unique genetic risks.


Nicole Simons, B.A.
Nicole Simons, B.A., is a current M.A. student studying Developmental Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2016 with a degree in Psychology. As a research volunteer in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic, she hopes to gain knowledge and experience in the treatment of OCD. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. after completing her master's degree.



Key Collaborators

Edna B. Foa, Ph.D
Edna B. Foa, Ph.D. is a Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and Personality, from University of Missouri, Columbia, in 1970. Dr. Foa devoted her academic career to study the psychopathology and treatment of anxiety disorders, primarily obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social phobia and is currently one of the world leading experts in these areas.

Dr. Foa is also the author of the book "Stop Obsessing!" A helpful guide for anyone interested or suffering from OCD. Click here to learn more about her book.

Moira Rynn, M.D.
Moira Rynn, M.D. focuses her research on pediatric clinical trials involving both psychopharmacologic and psychosocial treatments with an emphasis on mood and anxiety disorders. She completed several studies in the area of pediatric anxiety studies showing the efficacy of sertraline (Rynn et al., AJP, 2001) and venlafaxine ER (AJP, 2007). Dr. Rynn participated as an investigator in the Pediatric OCD Treatment Study (POTS) Team (JAMA, 2004). As Co-Principal Investigator, she worked with Dr. Anne Marie Albano (Principal Investigator) on the largest published study in pediatric anxiety disorders, the Child Child/Adolescent Anxiety Multimodal Treatment Study (CAMS, NEJM, 2008) which showed the treatment efficacy of the combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. In addition, Dr. Rynn is examining the efficacy of novel compounds for the treatment of pediatric obsessive compulsive disorder especially for children who have failed first line treatment. Dr. Rynn has been providing pharmacologic treatment for adults and children diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders since 1991.

More information on Dr. Rynn's research can be found here.

Franklin Schneier, M.D.
Franklin Schneier, M.D. is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Research Scientist in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Schneier is a graduate of Yale College and Cornell University Medical College, and he completed his residency in psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. He completed a fellowship in Clinical Research at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic, and has served as Associate Director of the clinic. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

Dr. Schneier's research has focused on the diagnosis and treatment of social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. He has conducted clinical trials establishing the efficacy of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy treatments, and he has used brain imaging techniques of SPECT, PET, and fMRI to evaluate brain function in social anxiety and other disorders. He has also studied the relationship of social anxiety disorder to medical conditions, such as essential tremor, stuttering, and hyperhidrosis. He is the principal investigator of grants funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH). Dr. Schneier is author of more than 130 scholarly publications and a book for the general public, The Hidden Face of Shyness.

Other selections from Dr. Schneier's published work can be found on the Resources page of the Social Anxiety website.




hora interior