Dr. Simpson describes the research on obsessive compulsive disorder/OCD that women should know about.
There is great interest these days in OCD. One of the head of the National Institutes of Mental Health, Tom Insel, way back in his career started by studying OCD, and that’s a great thing because I think it’s really helped focus on OCD, which historically had not received as much research funding. So now across the country, there’s great interest in really understanding how to improve our treatments for OCD and how to understand the brain mechanisms underlying obsessions and compulsions so we could devise, one day, even better treatments.
If people are interested in my research program, they can go to our website www.columbia-ocd.org. We do two things – one is for the patients of today, we are working to try to improve our current treatments; for example, how to improve adherence to cognitive behavioral therapy or how to augment the effects of medication or trying out novel medications. But for the patients of tomorrow, our goal is to understand the brain mechanisms underlying these symptoms, and so to advance that, we are doing brain imaging studies, looking at different neuro-chemicals in the brain to test hypotheses about what causes OCD, and we are also partnering with basic scientists at our institution to try to develop animal models of OCDs so we can really get at the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie these symptoms.
About Dr. Simpson, M.D., Ph.D.:
Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D., an expert on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), is an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, New York City, where she directs the Anxiety Disorders Clinic and OCD Research Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She was a member of the work group that developed the first “Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients With OCD” for the American Psychiatric Association.
Through her research, Dr. Simpson is working to trace the brain circuits believed to play a major role in the development of obsessions and compulsions, and she has developed novel approaches to treatment. Her research has been supported by a NARSAD Young Investigator grant.