Christopher Pittenger earned his MD and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University, where his graduate work was done with recent Nobel Prize recipient Eric Kandel. He returned to Yale University- where hd had done his undergraduate studies-for residency and research training in psychiatry in 2003, and he joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2007.
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 became more and more aware of how this process, when disrupted by disease processes, could lead to the maladaptive and disruptive automaticity seen in many neuropsychiatric disorders. His research, both with patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder 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 Institutes of Health, NARSAD, the Tourette Syndrome of America, and the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, and awards 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.