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Christopher Pittenger

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



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.

Education & Training

  • McNeil Research Fellow
    Yale University (2007)
  • Resident in Adult Psychiatry
    Yale University (2007)
  • 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

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 University2012
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

International OCD FoundationChair2020 - Present
Yale University School of Medicine Faculty Advisory CouncilChair2019 - 2020
Yale University Scholar Awards CommitteeMember2018 - Present
Yale University School of Medicine Faculty Advisory CouncilVice Chair2018 - 2019
American College of NeuropsychopharmacologyFellow2018 - Present
American College of NeuropsychopharmacologyMember, Ethics Committee2018 - Present
Bethany CT Board of EducationChair2017 - Present
International OCD Foundation Research Symposium Planning CommitteeFounder and chair2016 - 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
Doris Duke Charitable FoundationReviewer2013 - Present
Association Francaise Contre les MyopathiesReviewer2013 - 2014
American College of NeuropsychopharmacologyMember2013 - 2017
Medical School Curriculum Revision Task Force, Yale University School of MedicineMember2013
Yale Center for Clinical InvestigationModerator2012
Israel Science FoundationReviewer2012
Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering FairPublic Official2012 - 2014
American College of NeuropscyhopharmacologyMember, Education and Training Committee2012 - 2015
American College of NeuropsychopharmacologyReviewer2012 - 2014
Amity High SchoolAdvisor2012 - 2014
North Carolina Biotechnology CenterReviewer2011
American College of NeuropsychopharmacologyAssociate Member2011 - 2012
Neuroscience Research Training Program, Department of Psychiatry, Yale UniveristyDirector2010 - 2014
Yale Center for Clinical InvestigationCoordinator2010 - 2011
International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder FoundationCommittee Member2010 - Present
International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder FoundationScientific and Clinical Advisory Board2010 - Present
Bethany CT Board of EducationMember2009 - Present
National Institutes of Healthad hoc reviewer - NIH Study Section ZMH1 ERB-S2009
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 - Present
Neuroscience Research Training Program, Yale UniversityPhysician2006 - 2007
Society for NeuroscienceHonorific Awards Committee, 2012-20142006 - Present
American Psychiatric AssociationMember2006 - Present
Connecticut Psychiatric AssociationMember2006 - Present
Neuroscience Research Training Program, Dept. of Psychiatry, Yale UniversityDirector2000 - 2010

Departments & Organizations