About Our Research Program

Our Research Program focuses on the onset, neurobiology, genetics, and treatment of OCD and related conditions. Our overarching goal is to discover the causes of these disorders and, in doing so, provide the basis to develop more effective and innovative therapies to help families in the future. We have ongoing treatment studies as well as neuroimaging and genetic studies.

We are happy to discuss any of our current research studies, which include the following:

Intravenous (IV) Ketamine in Treatment-Resistant Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Principal Investigator: Wayne Goodman, MD

This is a pilot study on the efficacy and safety of a single sub-anesthetic intravenous (IV) dose of the glutamate NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine which has demonstrated rapid effects when delivered as a single intravenous (IV) dose in patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The effects of ketamine will be compared with that of the anesthetic midazolam, which is expected to have similar acute subjective effects but no effect on OCD symptoms.

Twelve patients will be recruited and receive two administrations (separated by two weeks) of ketamine and the active control midazolam. Assessments will be completed on the day of each infusion, and two, three, seven, ten, and fourteen days after each infusion. All participants will be offered a period of up to three months of free follow up psychiatric care at Mount Sinai after they exit the protocol. Participants must be between 21 and 65 years of age, have a primary diagnosis of OCD with severe symptoms for at least one year, a history of failure to respond to at least two adequate pharmacotherapy trials and cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD, and have a level of understanding sufficient to agree to all tests in the judgment of the investigator. Participants will be allowed to continue FDA approved medications (clomipramine or SSRIs) and as needed benzodiazepines (such as alprazolam or diazepam) during the trial. Participants cannot be on unapproved medications for the duration of the trial.

This study is open to enrollment.

Controlled Trial of Deep Brain Stimulation for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Principal Investigator: Wayne Goodman, MD

This is a multicenter study investigating the efficacy of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in treating severe treatment-resistant OCD. It is the first definitive controlled trial of a neurosurgical procedure for a severe psychiatric illness. DBS has had well-documented success in treating movement disorders such as Parkinson's. It has also demonstrated encouraging data in treating OCD. This study will use a parallel controlled design to compare effects of three months of double masked sham treatment versus active treatment DBS on reduction of OCD symptom severity.

Thirty patients will be recruited across nine study sites. The primary efficacy measure will be the Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS). The primary aim of the study is to determine if the effects of three months of treatment can lead to a significant improvement in YBCOS OCD severity as opposed to sham treatment. All patients will have the DBS implanted. Fifteen of the total thirty will be entered into a sham condition, that is, for the first three months they will have the system implanted but not turned on. The other fifteen will receive active treatment immediately after implantation. Patients will be followed up one week, two weeks, one month, two months, three months, and then every three months until month eighteen after implantation. Afterwards, they will be followed up for study assessments every six months. Patients must be between 18 and 75 years of age, have documented history of highly treatment resistant, severe OCD, be in good general health, be on a stable drug regimen for at least six weeks before implantation, and be able to understand and comply with instructions given by the investigators.

This study is open to enrollment.

Study Drug RO4917838 in Combination with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Principal Investigator: Wayne Goodman, MD

Despite advances in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), most patients continue to experience disabling symptoms leading to impaired functioning and diminished quality of life. There remains a need to develop more effective and bettertolerated long-term treatments for OCD.

This 21 -week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study examines whether patients treated with bitopertin and a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) experience fewer symptoms compared with those treated with SSRI only, a currently recommended treatment for OCD.

This study is open to enrollment.

Behavioral and fMRI Studies of Cognition in Healthy Individuals and Patients with Anxiety
Principal Investigator: Emily R. Stern, PhD

Do you have obsessive-compulsive disorder? If so, you might be eligible for a research study looking at cognition at Icahn School of Medicine. You must be between the ages of 18 and 50 and be in good physical health. We will ask you to come in for 2-3 separate appointments for a total time commitment of 2 and 6 hours. You will be reimbursed for your participation.

During this experiment you will be asked to complete some computer tasks. You may be asked to do this while sitting in an office, or while having your brain activity measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We may also ask to record some physiological changes in your body while you complete the task.

To learn more about this study, visit our clinical trials page. If you are interested in participating, please contact the Psychiatric NeuroCognition Laboratory at 212-824-8995 or sinaibrainlab@mssm.edu for more information. To have a member of our lab contact you directly, fill out our study interest form.

This study is open to enrollment.

Cognitive Processes Related to Anxious and Compulsive Traits
Principal Investigator: Emily R. Stern, PhD

Do you have obsessive-compulsive disorder? If so, you might be eligible for a research study looking at cognition at Icahn School of Medicine. You must be between the ages of 18 and 50 and be in good physical health. You will be reimbursed for your participation.

This study aims to look at cognitive processes related to decision making in individuals with anxious and compulsive traits. Specifically, you will be asked to perform two gambling tasks. The experiment lasts between 1.5-2 hours, and you will be compensated for your time.

Take our online survey to determine eligibility, and be entered into a raffle to win a 40-dollar gift card!

To learn more about our study, visit our clinical trials page. If you are interested in participating, please contact the Psychiatric NeuroCognition Laboratory at 212-824-8994 or neurostudy@mssm.edu for more information. To have a member of our lab contact you directly, fill out our study interest form.

This study is open to enrollment.