The Yale OCD Research Clinic is dedicated to advancing our understanding of the brain changes that contribute to OCD, and to the application of this knowledge for the development of new treatments.
Many cases of OCD can be successfully treated with established medications – especially the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – and symptom-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). However, a substantial minority gets little symptom relief from these established approaches. Furthermore, many patients who do respond to medication or CBT are left with residual symptoms and lead constricted lives. New treatments, deriving from new understanding of the neurobiology of the disorder, are urgently needed.
Much recent and current research in the Clinic is focused on a new hypothesis of OCD: that its symptoms may, at least in some cases, result from an imbalance in the brain of the neurotransmitter glutamate. This suggests that medications that modulate glutamate levels may help those patients who get little or no benefit from established therapies. Indeed, recent studies from our clinic, and elsewhere, suggest that glutamate-modulating drugs hold promise for some patients with difficult-to-treat OCD. More details, and links to some of our recent publications, can be found in the for researchers section.
Yale OCD Research Clinic
Connecticut Mental Health Center
34 Park Street, 3rd floor – CNRU
New Haven, CT 06508
Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD, Director
Michael Bloch, MD,MS, Assistant Director
Suzanne Wasylink, RN-C, Nurse Manager
Eileen Billingslea, MA, Clinic Coordinator
Mac Kelly, Research Assistant
All telephone calls and email are confidential. Participation in any study in our clinic is confidential; when we describe the outcome of our studies to the scientific community, all information that might identify specific patients is removed. The Yale OCD Research Clinic values and respects your privacy, and we adhere strictly to the Yale HIPAA requirements for management of privileged health-related information.
History of the Clinic
The Yale OCD Research Clinic has a 25-year history of groundbreaking advances in the understanding and treatment of OCD. Founded in the mid-1980s by Drs. Wayne Goodman and Dennis Charney, the Clinic fostered the development of the field’s standard instrument for rating symptom severity – the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), as well as the first clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy of the medications that are now standard treatments for the disorder – the SSRIs and neuroleptics. The International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation, a leading education and advocacy organization for patients with OCD, was founded by participants in these early research trials.
The founders of the clinic have gone on to other things – Dennis Charney is now the Dean of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and Wayne Goodman is the Chairman of Psychiatry there. Our current focus on glutamate modulators as potential treatments for OCD was begun in the early 2000s by Vladimir Coric, who treated the first patients with the glutamate-modulating drug riluzole. The current Director, Christopher Pittenger, took over the clinic in 2007 and continues this line of work, bringing to bear the neurobiological expertise he gained during his Ph.D. studies with Eric Kandel at Columbia University. He is joined by Michael Bloch; Dr. Bloch, who is both an adult and a child and adolescent psychiatrist, also works in the Tic Disorder/OCD Specialty Clinic in the Yale Child Study Center and brings an interest in the evolution of OCD across the lifespan to bear on our work.
The Yale OCD Research Clinic is based in the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC). CMHC is closely affiliated with Yale University and serves the dual roles of providing mental health care to the needy of the New Haven area and of supporting both basic and clinical psychiatric research. CMHC is located at 34 Park Street New Haven, CT 06508.
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From Hartford and points North
Take I-91 South to exit 1 (Rte 34/Downtown New Haven). Keep to the left on the Rte 34 expressway and follow it to the end; take Exit 1 onto North Frontage Road. There is a large parking lot on the left right at this exit. Turn left at the second light onto Park Street; CMHC will be on the right, just past the next stoplight, across from the new Yale/New Haven Smilow Cancer Hospital.
From Bridgeport and points South/West
Take I-95 North to Exit 47 (Rte 34/Downtown New Haven). Follow directions above to CMHC, on Park Street.
From New London and points East
Take I-95 South to Exit 47 (Rte 34/Downtown New Haven). Follow directions above to CMHC, on Park Street.
From Rte. 15/Merritt Parkway
Take Exit 58/Rte 34 East to New Haven. Follow Rte 34 4.6 miles to Rte 10/Ella T. Grasso Blvd. Follow the signs to stay on Rte 34: turn right, go 0.3 miles, and then turn left on Legion Avenue. Continue 0.9 miles, then turn right on Park Avenue, just before Yale-New Haven Hospital; CMHC is on the right.
Parking is available in the Air Rights Garage, which stands in the middle of Rte 34 over York Street, one block east of CMHC (see map). Bring your ticket to the Clinic; we can have it validated so that you do not have to pay for parking.
Frequently Asked Questions About Us
- Can I receive treatment there?
- We are a research clinic, not a dedicated treatment clinic, so we are not generally able to become patients’ primary psychiatrists, prescribers, or therapists. You may be eligible to receive some medication-based treatment through participation in one of our studies. All screened participants receive treatment recommendations. We are happy to talk with your psychiatrist, primary care provider, or therapist about recommendations regarding treatment. We are also happy to help you find a psychiatrist or therapist in the community, if you don’t have one.collapse
- What insurance do you take?
- If you receive treatment through our research, it will be free of charge to you, so you do not need to worry about insurance or copays. In fact, you will even be provided with a level of monetary compensation for participation.collapse
- How is the clinic funded?
- We are funded through various research grants and donations.collapse
- Will I have to stop my current medications if I participate?
- No. Our current treatment research is focused on augmentation of existing medication regimens. This means that an FDA-approved medication will be added to your existing regimen to see if this addition improves your OCD.collapse
- Is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) available?
- Though not available directly from our clinic, some people may be able to receive CBT through qualified personnel in our building, the Connecticut Mental Health Center. We can also try to help you find a good CBT provider in the community.collapse
- How long will my involvement with you last?
Participation in non-treatment studies can involve only a few hours of your time, and will be scheduled at your convenience (to the extent possible).
Treatment studies take longer, as we follow your symptoms over time. Our current treatment study is 14 weeks long, though your involvement will entail at least a couple additional weeks for proper evaluations and other necessary matters.collapse
- Is the information I share with you kept confidential?
- Absolutely. Not only are we required by law to keep your information confidential, it’s something we personally take seriously. Your information is kept strictly confidential.collapse
- How much does participation cost me?
- Participation will not cost you, save for expenses such as transportation to our facilities. In fact, if you participate in our research studies, you may receive some compensation for your time.collapse
- How much do you compensate me to participate?
- The amount you will be paid depends on the study (or studies) you participate in.collapse
- Can I participate in more than one study?
- You certainly can, and we welcome it, provided you meet study criteria.collapse
- I don’t have OCD. Can I still participate in research?
- We always need control participants with whom to compare individuals with OCD. Control participants need to pass a set of screening tests; psychiatric diagnoses, substance abuse, and major medical or neurological diseases are typically excluded. As with participants with OCD, control participants will be compensated for their time. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are at all interested.collapse
- What can you tell me about your support group?
Our peer support group is for individuals who have OCD to discuss matters surrounding the condition. Topics covered include living with OCD, treatment experiences, share things that have helped, etc. An open, accepting, non-judgmental atmosphere is emphasized is which people can be free to share without fear of shame or ridicule, and can receive empathic and active support from others.
Participation is free of charge, and individuals do not have to be participants in our research to attend.collapse
- When and where does the support group meet?
The group meets on the first and third Thursday of each month from 3:00-4:00. The location is at 34 Park Street, 3rd Floor, Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit (CNRU) conference room.
Parking is available at Air Rights Garage. Please bring your ticket for validation. Please note that we cannot provide validation for parking in any other garage or lot.collapse