Center for OCD and Related Disorders
Helen Simpson, MD, PhD

Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and Director of Center for Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders ( She is also the Director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Simpson's research program focuses on how to improve treatments for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders so that these people can live productive lives. Her research is interdisciplinary. It ranges from treatment development studies to clinical trials examining the effects of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy to brain imaging studies exploring the brain mechanisms of OCD to animal studies in collaboration with basic scientists. Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health and private foundations like the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation and NARSAD. She was a member of the workgroup that developed the first Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with OCD for the American Psychiatric Association. She is an advisor to the World Health Organization for OCD and related disorder. 

Dr. Simpson graduated from Yale College with a BS in biology. She then completed the MD-PhD program at The Rockefeller University/Cornell University Medical College. Her PhD focused on the brain pathways underlying learned versus unlearned vocalizations in songbirds. She then completed the internship and residency in psychiatry at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center/New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Dr. Simpson has been associated with the Anxiety Disorders Clinic since 1996, first as a National Institutes of Mental Health Research Fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Liebowitz, then as an independent researcher, and now as its director.

Clinical Studies Managed By This Investigator:
Condition Study Title
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) [ CLOSED ] Attaining and Maintaining Wellness in OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) [ CLOSED ] Control and Reward Circuits in OCD
Healthy Volunteers [ CLOSED ] This study is examining the cognitive control and reward processing in unmedicated adults with and without OCD.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) [ CLOSED ] Effects of Marijuana on Symptoms of OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) [ CLOSED ] A Mobile App (nOCD) for OCD
Healthy Volunteers [ CLOSED ] Exercise for Individuals with Anxiety
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) [ CLOSED ] Brain Imaging for Individuals with OCD
Healthy Volunteers [ CLOSED ] Brain Imaging for Siblings of People with OCD