Helen Blair Simpson
Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D., is professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. The Anxiety Disorders Clinic was founded in 1982 as one of the first research clinics in the world to study the causes of and treatments for anxiety. Today, the clinic studies not only anxiety disorders (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder [OCD], panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder) but also related disorders like depression, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and hoarding disorder. Dr. Simpson’s own research program focuses on OCD and related disorders. For the patients of today, she uses clinical trial methodology to examine current treatments and the best way to deliver them. For the patients of tomorrow, she collaborates with brain imagers and basic scientists to study the underlying brain mechanisms of obsessions, compulsions, and anxiety, with the goal of identifying novel targets for treatment development.
Dr. Simpson graduated summa cum laude 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 thesis examined the brain pathways underlying learned versus unlearned vocalizations in songbirds. After completing internship and residency training at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center/New York State Psychiatric Institute, she joined the Anxiety Disorders Clinic in 1996 first as a research fellow, then as an independent researcher, and now as its director.