Christopher Pittenger MD, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and in the Child Study Center and Assistant Professor of Psychology; Director, Yale OCD Research Clinic; Associate Director, Neuroscience Research Training Program

Biographical Info

Christopher Pittenger earned his MD and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University, where his graduate work was done with Nobel Prize recipient Eric Kandel. He returned to Yale University - where had done his undergraduate studies - for residency and research training in psychiatry in 2003. He joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2007 and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 2013.

During his Ph.D. studies in basic neurobiology, he became fascinated by the brain's ability to go on autopilot -- to perform complex series of actions or thoughts, after sufficient rehearsal, with almost no conscious effort. Then, during his clinical training, he became more and more aware of how this process, when disrupted by disease, can lead to the maladaptive and disruptive automaticity seen in many neuropsychiatric disorders. His research, both with patients and in animal models, aims to elucidate the mechanisms of learned automatic behaviors and to better understand the consequences when they go awry, with the ultimate goal of developing new understandings and better treatments for a variety of neuropsychiatric conditions.

Dr. Pittenger's research and clinical work have been acknowledged by a number of prestigious awards, including grant funding from the National Institutes of Health, NARSAD, the Tourette Syndrome of America, and the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, and awards from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Society for Neuroscience, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American College of Psychiatrists. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International OCD Foundation and an active member of the Society for Neuroscience, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the American Neurological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and other groups.

Education & Training

Yale University (1994)
Yale University (1994)
Columbia University (1998)
Columbia University (2002)
Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (2002)
Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons (2003)
Resident in Adult Psychiatry
Yale University, Psychiatry (2003 - 2007)
McNeil Research Fellow
Yale University, Psychiatry (2005 - 2007)
American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Adult Psychiatry

Honors & Recognition

  • Graduated cum laude with distinction, with simultaneous awarding of BS and MS degrees
    Yale University (1994)
  • Poole Prize for Medical Writing
    Columbia University (1994)
  • Dean's Day Award for Medical Student Research
    Columbia Univeristy (2000)
  • William H. Bean Award for Medical History or Humanities
    American Osler Society (2001)
  • Dean's Day Award for Medical Student Research
    Columbia University (2002)
  • Ph.D. awarded with distinction
    Columbia University (2002)
  • NIMH Outstanding Resident Award
    National Institute of Mental Health (2005)
  • The Seymour L. Lustman Award for Psychiatric Research
    Yale University (2006)
  • Memorial Travel Fellowship, ACNP
    American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2006)
  • The Seymour L. Lustman Award for Psychiatric Research
    Yale Univeristy (2007)
  • The Laughlin Fellowship
    American College of Psychiatrists (2007)
  • APA/Wyeth MD/Ph.D. Research Fellowship
    American Psychiatric Association (2007)
  • NARSAD Young Investigator Award
    NARSAD (2007)
  • Laughlin Foundation Merit Award
    Yale University (2007)
  • YCCI Scholar
    Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (2009)
  • Chairman's Award for Outstanding Clinical, Teaching, and Administrative Contributions
    Department of Psychiatry, Yale University (2009)
  • Travel Award for the ASCP Workshop on Clinical Trials
    American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology (2008)
  • DDCF Clinical Scientist Development Award
    Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (2008)
  • YCCI Pilot Award in Translational and Interdisciplinary Research
    Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (2011)
  • Presenter at the NARSAD New York Gala
    NARSAD (2008)
  • Allison Fellowship
    Department of Psychiatry, Yale Unversity (2012)
  • Tourette Syndrome Association Young Investigator
    Tourette Syndrome Association of the USA (2009)
  • SfN Career Development Award
    Society for Neuroscience (2009)
  • NARSAD Young Investigator Award
    NARSAD (2010)
  • Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists
    National Institute of Mental Health (2010)

Professional Service

  • member, American Psychiatric Association (2006)
  • Member; Secretary, Bethany CT Board of Education (11/01/2009)
  • Presenter, Career Day, Amity Middle School - Bethany (10/01/2013)
  • Grant Reviewer, Czech Science Foundation (09/30/2013)
  • Associate Editor, Neuroscience Letters (09/01/2007)
  • Grant Reviewer, North Carolina Biotechnology Center (08/06/2011)
  • Fellow, American Neurological Association (06/01/2014)
  • Reviewer, Clinical Scientist Development Award, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (06/01/2013 - 08/01/2015)
  • Reviewer, Detre Fellowship Program, Yale University Department of Psychiatry (06/01/2013 - 12/31/2014)
  • Grant Review Committee, International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Foundation (05/01/2010 - 12/31/2014)
  • Study Section reviewer, National Institutes of Health (05/01/2009)
  • Grant Reviewer, Israel Science Foundation (03/29/2012)
  • Judge, Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair (03/01/2012 - 12/31/2014)
  • Scientific Advisory Board, International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Foundation (02/08/2010 - 12/31/2014)
  • Grant Reviewer, Association Francaise Contre les Myopathies (01/15/2013)
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America (01/01/2014)
  • Member, American College of Neuropscyhopharmacology (01/01/2013 - 12/31/2014)
  • Reviewer, Travel Award Program, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (01/01/2012 - 12/31/2014)
  • Advisor, Advanced Science Program, Amity High School (01/01/2012 - 12/31/2014)
  • Associate Member, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (01/01/2011 - 12/31/2012)
  • member, Society of Biological Psychiatry (01/01/2009 - 12/31/2014)
  • Lustman Award Review Committee, Yale University Department of Psychiatry (01/01/2009 - 12/31/2014)
  • member, International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Foundation (01/01/2007 - 12/31/2014)
  • member, Society for Neuroscience (01/01/2006 - 12/31/2014)
  • member, Connecticut Psychiatric Association (01/01/2006 - 12/31/2014)

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