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Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Assistant Chair for Translational Research, Psychiatry; Director, Yale OCD Research Clinic; Co-Director, Neuroscience Research Training Program

Contact Information

Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD

Patient Care Location

Office Location

Mailing Address

  • Psychiatry

    34 Park Street

    New Haven, CT, 06508

    United States



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 he 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 recognized 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 Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke, NARSAD, the Tourette Syndrome of America, and the Doris Duke Charitable Trust.  He has won a number of honorific awards, including 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

  • MD
    Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons (2003)
  • PhD
    Columbia University (2002)
  • MPhil
    Columbia University (1998)
  • BS
    Yale University (1994)
  • MS
    Yale University (1994)
  • Diplomate
    American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • McNeil Research Fellow
    Yale University
  • Resident in Adult Psychiatry
    Yale University
  • Board Certification
    AB of Psychiatry & Neurology, Psychiatry (2010)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Senior Researcher AwardAmerican Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry2016
Lead, Committee on Adult PsychopharmacologyInternational OCD Accreditation Task Force2016
Eva King Killam Award for Outstanding Translational Research Contributions to NeuropsychopharmacologyAmerican College of Neuropsychopharmacology2015
NARSAD Independent Investigator AwardThe Brain and Behavior Research Fund2015
FellowAmerican Psychiatric Association2015
FellowAmerican Neurological Association2015
Allison FellowshipDepartment of Psychiatry, Yale Unversity2012
YCCI Pilot Award in Translational and Interdisciplinary ResearchYale Center for Clinical Investigation2011
Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New ScientistsNational Institute of Mental Health2010
NARSAD Young Investigator AwardNARSAD2010
Tourette Syndrome Association Young InvestigatorTourette Syndrome Association of the USA2009
SfN Career Development AwardSociety for Neuroscience2009
YCCI ScholarYale Center for Clinical Investigation2009
Chairman's Award for Outstanding Clinical, Teaching, and Administrative ContributionsDepartment of Psychiatry, Yale University2009
Travel Award for the ASCP Workshop on Clinical TrialsAmerican Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology2008
DDCF Clinical Scientist Development AwardDoris Duke Charitable Foundation2008
Presenter at the NARSAD New York GalaNARSAD2008
The Laughlin FellowshipAmerican College of Psychiatrists2007
APA/Wyeth MD/Ph.D. Research FellowshipAmerican Psychiatric Association2007
NARSAD Young Investigator AwardNARSAD2007
The Seymour L. Lustman Award for Psychiatric ResearchYale Univeristy2007
Laughlin Foundation Merit AwardYale University2007
Memorial Travel Fellowship, ACNPAmerican College of Neuropsychopharmacology2006
The Seymour L. Lustman Award for Psychiatric ResearchYale University2006
NIMH Outstanding Resident AwardNational Institute of Mental Health2005
Dean's Day Award for Medical Student ResearchColumbia University2002
Ph.D. awarded with distinctionColumbia University2002
William H. Bean Award for Medical History or HumanitiesAmerican Osler Society2001
Dean's Day Award for Medical Student ResearchColumbia Univeristy2000
Graduated cum laude with distinction, with simultaneous awarding of BS and MS degreesYale University1994
Poole Prize for Medical WritingColumbia University1994

Professional Service

Yale University School of Medicine Faculty Advisory CouncilVice Chair/Chair Elect; anticipated Chair term 4/2019-3/20202018 - Present
Yale University School of Medicine Faculty Advisory CouncilMember2015 - Present
Medical Staff Executive Committee, Connecticut Mental Health CenterCommittee Member2014 - Present
American Neurological AssociationFellow2014 - Present
Anxiety and Depression Association of America2014 - Present
Amity Middle School - BethanyPresenter/Speaker2013 - Present
Czech Science FoundationReviewer2013 - Present
Doris Duke Charitable FoundationReviewer2013 - 2015
Yale University Department of PsychiatryReviewer2013 - 2014
Association Francaise Contre les MyopathiesReviewer2013 - Present
American College of NeuropscyhopharmacologyMember, Education and Training Committee2013 - 2014
Medical School Curriculum Revision Task Force, Yale University School of MedicineMember2013
Yale Center for Clinical InvestigationModerator2012
Israel Science FoundationReviewer2012 - Present
Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering FairPublic Official2012 - 2014
American College of NeuropsychopharmacologyReviewer2012 - 2014
Amity High SchoolAdvisor2012 - 2014
North Carolina Biotechnology CenterReviewer2011 - Present
American College of NeuropsychopharmacologyMember2011 - 2012
Neuroscience Research Training Program, Department of Psychiatry, Yale UniveristyDirector2010 - 2014
Yale Center for Clinical InvestigationCoordinator2010 - 2011
International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder FoundationCommittee Member2010 - 2014
International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder FoundationBoard Member2010 - 2014
Bethany CT Board of EducationMember2009 - Present
National Institutes of Healthad hoc reviewer - NIH Study Section ZMH1 ERB-S2009 - Present
Yale University Department of PsychiatryCommittee Member2009 - 2014
Society of Biological PsychiatryMember, Education and Training Committee, 2012-2016; Chair, Program Director Task Force, 2014-20162009 - Present
Peer Review and Privileging Committee, Connecticut Mental Health CenterMember of Peer Review & Privileging Committee; Chair since 20142008 - Present
Neuroscience LettersAssociate Editor2007 - Present
International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder FoundationMember2007 - 2014
Neuroscience Research Training Program, Yale UniversityPhysician2006 - 2007
Society for NeuroscienceHonorific Awards Committee, 2012-20142006 - 2014
Connecticut Psychiatric AssociationMember2006 - 2014
American Psychiatric AssociationMember2006 - Present
Neuroscience Research Training Program, Dept. of Psychiatry, Yale UniversityDirector2000 - 2010

Departments & Organizations