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