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  • Director

    Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry; Deputy Chair for Translational Research, Psychiatry; Director, Yale OCD Research Clinic; Director, Neuroscience Research Training Program, Yale Department of Psychiatry

    Research Interests
    • Basal Ganglia Diseases
    • Tourette Syndrome
    • Learning
    • Molecular Biology
    • Neuroanatomy
    • Neurobiology
    • Neurophysiology
    • Neurosciences
    • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
    • Phobic Disorders
    • Psychopharmacology
    • Trichotillomania
    Chris 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, his undergraduate alma mater, for residency and research training in psychiatry in 2003. He joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2007 and is now a tenured Associate Professor and Assistant Chair for Translational Research in the Department of Psychiatry .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, the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, and other organizations.  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 Chair of both their Grant Review Committee and their Annual Research Symposium Planning Committee.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Neurological Association.
  • Associate Director for Clinical Psychology

    Associate Research Scientist in Psychiatry

    Dr. Zaboski is a licensed Connecticut psychologist and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. He completed his Ph.D. in School Psychology at the University of Florida, where he gained clinical experience with children and adults across a continuum of care ranging from school-based to acute inpatient facilities. He has considerable expertise in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for a panoply of psychological disorders and proficiency in educational, psychological, and neuropsychological assessment. He developed a clinical and research specialty in CBT with exposure at Rogers Behavioral Health in Tampa Bay under the supervision of Eric Storch, as well as in the University of Florida’s Department of Psychiatry, Division of Psychology during his clinical postdoctoral studies through the intensive anxiety/obsessive-compulsive disorder program. Dr. Zaboski’s primary interests include the application of sophisticated quantitative methods to understanding the neurobiological networks in individuals afflicted by OCD, improving exposure therapy through translational neuroscience, and training clinicians in exposure-based techniques.
  • Associate Research Scientist in Psychiatry

    Dr. Grazioplene's research examines associations between neural phenotypes and human individual differences, with a focus on understanding how variation in neural features supports adaptive levels of personality function, and how these neural characteristics may become dysregulated in the context of psychopathology. She is particularly interested in examining neural features linked to psychosis-proneness and subclinical expressions of risk for obsessive-compulsive disorder. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota in the Personality, Individual Differences, and Behavioral Genetics program.
  • Associate Research Scientist in Psychiatry

    Helen Pushkarskaya is an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine and an Instructor (Introduction into Data Analysis and Econometrics) in the Department of Economics, Yale University. She has completed training in mathematics and physics (undergraduate training, Moscow Physics and Technology Institute), economics (graduate training, Ohio State University), psychology (postdoctoral training, Ohio State University), imaging and cognitive neurobiology (T32 fellowship, Yale School of Medicine), and clinical sciences (NIH K01 Career Development Award, Yale School of Medicine). Her research in multi-disciplinary and relies on complementary cross-sectional and longitudinal data using behavioral and fMRI experiments, online and paper-based surveys, semi-structured interviews, and clinical assessments. She is one of the organizers of the series MAPs: Methods And Primers for Computational Psychiatry and Neuroeconomics.Research focus: A prominent view on the marked divergence in developmental paths is that individuals vary in their susceptibility to both negative (risk-promoting) and positive (development-enhancing) environmental conditions; this has been termed the differential susceptibility model, or DSM). The DSM has some risk of promoting a deterministic view and a stance of ‘blaming and changing’ the susceptible person to induce better coping with adverse environments. To avoid this trap, proponents of the DSM have argued for a more dynamic approach, suggesting that developmental vulnerability may vary across developmental stages and socio-economics environments, and that interventions need to mitigate vulnerabilities by promoting resilience instead of changing personality traits. Helen Pushkarskaya's research advocates for this approach. It aims to answer the following inter-related questions: What are the differences between normal and abnormal variations in basic psychological, social, behavioral, and neurobiological processes, such as information processing and decision formation? What differentiates and triggers adaptive and maladaptive developmental trajectories? How do adaptive variations in information processing and decision-making fit in a broader socio-economics dynamic? What are the social and clinical modifiers of healthy maturational and illness trajectories, and what are the risk and resilience factors? The ultimate goal of this line of research is to identify how adaptive variations can be supported and maladaptive variations can be mitigated in order to influence social policies and early clinical interventions.