Founding & Senior Faculty
Anne Marie Albano, PhD, ABPP
Youth Anxiety Center Clinical Site Director, Columbia University Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders
Dr. Albano is Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry and Director of the Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University. Dr. Albano has devoted her career to the study of anxiety and mood disorders in children, adolescents, and young adults, and is co-author of an award-winning book for parents, You and Your Anxious Child: Free Your Child from Fears and Worries and Create a Joyful Family Life (Penguin/Avery Press). She has published more than 100 articles and chapters and is the co-author of several cognitive behavioral treatment manuals and of the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for Children, all published by Oxford University Press. Dr. Albano served as a Principal Investigator of a 6-site, National Institute of Mental Health-sponsored study entitled "Child/Adolescent Anxiety Multimodal Treatment Study" (CAMS) and also was a PI for the Treatments for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS). Both trials examined the relative efficacy of psychotherapy, medication, combination treatment, and pill placebo in youth. Dr. Albano is on the Board of Directors of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and is the inaugural editor of the new journal “Evidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health” published by the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. She is active in teaching and supervision, and is a frequent speaker for schools, professional organizations, and parent groups. In 2015 Dr. Albano received the honor of “Outstanding Contribution by an Individual for Clinical Activities” by the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
Shannon Bennett, PhD
Youth Anxiety Center Clinical Site Director, Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center
Dr. Bennett is Co-Clinical Director of the NYPH Youth Anxiety Center where she works with adolescents and young adults with anxiety and related conditions in individual and group treatment modalities at the Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center. Dr. Bennett also oversees the Youth Anxiety Center clinical services in the NYPH Outpatient Department and Partial Hospitalization Programs. Dr. Bennett is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian, where she serves as the Director of Psychology in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Co-Directs the Pediatric OCD, Anxiety, and Tic Disorders Program. Dr. Bennett specializes in the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders, OCD, tic disorders, and related conditions in children, adolescents and young adults. Dr. Bennett’s primary research interests include the development, evaluation, and dissemination of cognitive behavioral treatments for anxiety and related disorders, testing the efficacy of novel treatments for these disorders, and better understanding mechanisms involved in symptom change. Dr. Bennett currently oversees multiple research studies in the areas of anxiety and tic disorder treatment, and has written of several papers, book chapters, and treatment manuals on these topics. Dr. Bennett is also committed to training psychologists, psychiatrists and other care professionals in cognitive behavioral interventions to improve access to these treatment approaches for youth with anxiety and related impairments. Dr. Bennett was honored with a Career Development Leadership Award from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and serves on the Medical Advisory Board for the Tourette Syndrome Association.
Cristiane Duarte, PhD, MPH
Youth Anxiety Center Clinical Site Director, Washington Heights Clinic
Youth Anxiety Center Clinical Site Director, Washington Heights Clinic Dr. Duarte is an Associate Professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) and Co-Director of the Youth Anxiety Center - Washington Heights Clinic. Dr. Duarte is an expert on development of mental disorders in children, adolescents, and young adults of disadvantaged backgrounds. Through the use state-of-the art sampling, recruitment and culturally appropriate assessment methodologies, she generated population-based knowledge of relevance to diverse, often underserved and understudied populations. Currently, she is a leader of the Boricua Youth Study, the only multi-national source of information about how mental disorders develop from childhood to young adulthood in a Latino subgroup (Puerto Ricans). Dr. Duarte and the Washington Heights Clinic team adopt the highest quality and latest evidence available to treat multicultural young adults with anxiety disorder.
Francis Lee, MD, PhD
Youth Anxiety Center Research Co-Director
Dr. Lee is the Mortimer D. Sackler, MD, Professor of Molecular Biology in Psychiatry and Chair, the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine, and attending psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He has focused his research program on leveraging molecular neuroscience tools to improve our understanding of anxiety disorders. His current research has centered on plasticity factors –neurotrophic growth factors and endocannabinoids - which have profound effects on neuronal function within neural circuits. He and his collaborators have established vertically integrated research strategies to perform parallel genetic mouse model studies with human behavioral and functional imaging studies to identify how individual variation contribute to risk and resilience for anxiety disorders and how clinical treatments can be optimized for individuals and targeted to the biological states of the developing brain.
Herbert Pardes, MD
Youth Anxiety Center Executive Director
After serving from January 2000 through September 2011 as President and Chief Executive Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, Dr. Pardes became Executive Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Under his leadership NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital escalated to one of the highest ranked hospitals and comprehensive health care institutions in the United States. Dr. Pardes has been an outspoken proponent for academic medicine, medical research, children’s health education, mental health, access to care, humanism, and empathy in care delivery, Information Technology, and medicine. He has chaired three different departments of psychiatry at Downstate Medical Center, the University of Colorado, and Columbia University. He served from 1989 to 2000 as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Vice President for Health Sciences. A noted psychiatrist, he served as Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and the United States Assistant Surgeon General during the Carter and Reagan Administrations. He was also President of the American Psychiatric Association. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also received the United States Army Commendation Medal and the Sarnat International Prize for leadership in the field of mental health. In 2014 he was given the first Pardes Humanitarian Award in mental health sponsored in part by leaders of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF). He has served on commissions related to health policy appointed by Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, including the Presidential Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry and the Commission on Systemic Interoperability. He serves on the NYeC Board Executive Committee for Information Technology and is Vice Chairman of the New York Genome Center. He is the former Chairman of the Greater New York Hospital Association, the Hospital Association of New York (and contributes as a board member today), the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the New York Association of Medical Schools.
David Shaffer, MD, FRCP, FRC
Youth Anxiety Center Founding Director
Dr. Shaffer was the Irving Philips Professor of Child Psychiatry and Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Columbia University, former Chair of the Division of Child Psychiatry, NYSPI. He originally trained in pediatrics in London and in pediatric neurology at Yale. He obtained his psychiatry training at the Maudsley Hospital in London. His longstanding interest in the diagnosis, classification arose from participation in each version of DSM starting with DSM III. His research interests have ranged from the use of SSRI’s in treating enuresis, the neurological correlation of children with ADHD and for much of his career on the characteristics of youth who commit suicide, and includes the development of screening strategies to identify youth at risk for suicide (the Columbia Teen Screen). His most recent research interests have been on the interaction of cognitive and mood sequences in adolescents prior to executing a suicide attempt and on the role of anxiety in leading to suicide. Dr. Shaffer established the Youth Anxiety Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Helen Blair Simpson, MD, PhD
Youth Anxiety Center Research Co-Director
Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D., is the Vice Chair for Research and Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. She also directs the Center for Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health since 1999, she uses clinical trials to identify the best treatments for anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and partners with basic and clinical neuroscientists to elucidate how the brain produces anxiety, obsessions, and compulsions. Dr. Simpson is currently collaborating with OCD experts around the globe to identify brain signatures of OCD. She is also partnering with New York State to train front-line clinicians in the early detection and treatment of OCD. Advisor to the World Health Organization on the classification of OCD and author of the American Psychiatric Association’s Practice Guidelines for OCD, she works to transform care for people with anxiety and OCD.
Dr. Simpson graduated summa cum laude from Yale College, completed the MD-PhD program at The Rockefeller University/Cornell University Medical College, and trained as an intern and resident in psychiatry at Columbia University/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She joined the Anxiety Disorders Clinic in 1996 and later served as its Director (2006-2016). In November 2016, she became the Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University and Director of Research at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, MD
Youth Anxiety Center Program Co-Director
Dr. Veenstra-VanderWeele is the Ruane Professor for the Implementation of Science for Child and Adolescent Mental Health at Columbia University Medical Center, and Division Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. He uses molecular and translational neuroscience research tools in the pursuit of new treatments for autism spectrum disorder and pediatric obsessive compulsive disorder. Currently, his lab at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute focuses on the serotonin, oxytocin and glutamate systems in genetic mouse models related with abnormal social or repetitive/compulsive-like behavior. Dr. Veenstra-VanderWeele’s clinical/translational research program at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Center for Autism and the Developing Brain studies potential treatments for autism spectrum disorder and related genetic syndromes.
Philip J. Wilner, MD, MBA
Youth Anxiety Center Managing Director
Dr. Wilner is Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Office at NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center. He is Executive Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and an Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Wilner is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a member of the New York Academy of Medicine and the New York Psychiatric Society.
Clinical Faculty Who See Youth Anxiety Center Patients
Elizabeth Allen, PhD
Youth Anxiety Psychologist in the Outpatient Department and the Youth Inpatient Services
Dr. Elizabeth Allen received her PhD from Clark University where she studied with Dr. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, the developmental psychologist who coined the term and developed the concept of “emerging adulthood.” She completed her post doctoral fellowship training at Weill Cornell/New York Presbyterian Hospital Westchester campus where she worked with children, adolescents, and young adults with anxiety and related disorders. Dr. Allen continues this work as a faculty member, expanding the reach of the Youth Anxiety Center programming on the Westchester campus. In addition to increasing the number of patients who can be seen in the insurance-based and private practice outpatient clinics, she offers dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) group therapy for youth who are engaging in self harm or suicidal behavior. Also, she will consult on the inpatient units for youth who are in need of the most acute level of care.
Angela Chiu, PhD
Youth Anxiety Center Psychologist in the Partial Hospitalization Program and at the Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center
Dr. Chiu is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in evidence-based interventions for children, adolescents and young adults suffering from anxiety and mood disorders. She specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy as well as modular approaches to treatment for a wide array of presenting problems including social phobia, separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, specific phobias, trauma, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and oppositional defiant disorder. Dr. Chiu is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical Center and an Assistant Attending Psychologist at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. She provides a variety of services including diagnostic assessments, therapy, and consultation for children, adolescents, and young adults.
Jill Domanski, LCSW
Youth Anxiety Center Social Worker at the Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center
Ms. Domanski is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, using evidence-based practices. She has received extensive training in cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, behavior management interventions, family therapy, and group therapy. Ms. Domanski has expertise in treating children, adolescents, young adults, and families struggling with anxiety disorders (such as social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, panic disorder, health anxiety, specific phobias, and selective mutism) and mood disorders (such as depression and bipolar disorder). She provides a variety of services including diagnostic assessments, consultation, and individual, group and family therapy at the Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center.
Pamalyn Esperanza, MD
Youth Anxiety Center Psychiatrist at the Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center
Dr. Esperanza is both a pediatrician and child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist specializing in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Dr. Esperanza’s clinical interests are focused on pediatric and adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, depression, anxiety, and psychopharmacology. She provides diagnostic assessments, individual and group psychotherapy, parent training, consultation and community outreach services.
Rebecca Erban, PsyD
Youth Anxiety Center Psychologist in the Washington Heights Clinic
Dr. Erban is a bilingual English-Spanish clinical psychologist who specializes in evidence-based cognitive behavioral treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, health psychology, working with underserved populations and treatment of adolescents and young adults. She previously worked at UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services and is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University Medical Center and a clinical psychologist in the Washington Heights Youth Anxiety Center Clinic. She provides diagnostic assessments, individual and group psychotherapy, parent training, consultation and community outreach services.
Avital Falk, PhD
Youth Anxiety Center Psychologist in the Partial Hospitalization Program and Hospital Outpatient Department and at Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center
Dr. Falk is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in evidence-based interventions for children, adolescents and young adults suffering from anxiety and mood disorders. She is an Instructor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine and an Assistant Attending Psychologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital, and is engaged in treatment and research on anxiety and related disorders. Dr. Falk specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure and response prevention for OCD and anxiety disorders. She provides a variety of clinical services including diagnostic assessments, therapy, and consultation. This summer, she will be launching groups as part of an intensive treatment program for OCD and Anxiety Disorders. She provides diagnostic assessments, individual and group psychotherapy, parent training, consultation and community outreach services.
Heather Makover, Ph.D.
Psychologist at the Youth Anxiety Center Washington Heights Clinic
Dr. Makover is a clinical psychologist at the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center (NYP/CUIMC) Youth Anxiety Center in Washington Heights. She is an Instructor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) within the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division of CUIMC. Dr. Makover obtained her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Temple University. She completed her clinical internship at the University of Washington School of Medicine/Seattle Children's Hospital and her postdoctoral fellowship in child and adolescent psychology at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NYP/CUIMC. She specializes in evidence-based treatments for anxiety and mood disorders. She is also a member of the Mental Health Disparities Workgroup, which focuses on increasing access and equity within mental health services.
Justin Mohatt, MD
Youth Anxiety Center Psychiatrist at the Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center
Dr. Mohatt is Vice Chair for Faculty Practice, Chief of Ambulatory Services in the Division of Child Psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center and Clinical Director of the Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center. The Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center offers expert assessment and treatment of psychiatric disorders by a multi-disciplinary team of academically-oriented clinicians in a discreet, comfortable outpatient setting. The Specialty Center offers expertise in disorders across the lifespan and an approach that is sensitive to each individual's life context. Services at The Specialty Center include assessment, medication management, psychotherapy, couples' counseling, family therapy, group therapy, and neuropsychological and educational testing. Specific Youth Anxiety Center programs are embedded within the larger clinical services of the Specialty Center.
Michelle Pelcovitz, PhD
Youth Anxiety Center Psychology Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Partial Hospitalization Program and Hospital Outpatient Program and at Weill Cornell Psychiatry Specialty Center
Dr. Pelcovitz is a psychology postdoctoral fellow with experience in treatment of anxiety, mood, and behavioral disorders in children, adolescents, and young adults. She specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other evidence-based interventions for a wide array of presenting problems, including anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dr. Pelcovitz provides a variety of services including diagnostic assessments, therapy, and consultation for children, adolescents, and young adults, at the NewYork Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Manhattan Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization Programs.
Matthew W. Specht, PhD
Assistant Attending Psychologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center
Dr. Specht is directing programmatic expansion of the Youth Anxiety Center (YAC) to NewYork-Presbyterian(NYPH) Westchester Behavioral Health Center. He is an Assistant Attending Psychologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University. Dr. Specht has expertise in anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and common co-occurring conditions including Tourette's disorder, body-focused repetitive behaviors including hair-pulling, nail-biting, and skin picking as well as stereotypies (typically including hand-flapping/finger-wriggling) in normally developing persons. His research has primarily focused on non-pharmacological treatments for Tourette’s disorder. Dr. Specht’s clinical consultations focus on thorough evaluation of complex clinical presentations to clarify treatment targets and develop a robust multidisciplinary treatment plan to address threats to normal development. Dr. Specht is focused on the development, delivery, and evaluation of brief, robust, strengths-based cognitive-behavioral therapies that speed recovery and improve training for the next generation of clinicians.
E. Blake Zakarin, PhD
Youth Anxiety Center Psychologist at the Columbia University Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders
Dr. Zakarin is an Instructor of Psychology (in Psychiatry) within the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University and a senior clinical psychologist at the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. Dr. Zakarin specializes in cognitive behavioral treatment for anxiety disorders, mood disorders, sleep difficulties, and related parenting interventions in children, adolescents, and young adults. Through her extensive training in multidisciplinary medical settings, Dr. Zakarin has also developed expertise and interest in evidence-based interventions for anxiety management and improved functioning in the context of somatic symptoms, eating difficulties, and chronic pain. She provides individual, group and family therapy, parent-training, and school consultations.
M. Carolina Zerrate, MD, MHS
Youth Anxiety Center Psychiatrist and Medical Director in the Washington Heights Clinic
Dr. Zerrate is a bilingual English-Spanish board certified adult, child and adolescent Psychiatrist. She an Instructor in Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and the medical director of the Washington Heights Youth Anxiety at New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYPH). Dr. Zerrate graduated from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Medical School in Bogota, Colombia. Before continuing her clinical training she was a postdoctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), and completed a Masters of Health Science in Mental Health at JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Zerrate trained in adult psychiatry at Georgetown University Hospital, and at NYPH Columbia and Cornell Universities Program for her child and adolescent fellowship. She later completed the Columbia University Public Psychiatry Fellowship and then joined the Youth Anxiety Center Washington Heights Clinic. She provides individual, group and family therapy, medication management, parent-training, and school consultations.
Erica Chin, PhD
Youth Anxiety Center Psychologist in the Washington Heights Clinic
Dr. Chin serves as the Associate Director of Clinical Services for the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. Dr. Chin is a licensed clinical psychologist with interests in anxiety, OCD, and mood disorders. She previously served as the Director of Psychology at the Child Day Unit of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, a clinical research unit for children and adolescents with OCD, anxiety, and depression, as well as the Director of Assessment at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.
Yiu Kee Warren Ng, MD
Youth Anxiety Center Psychiatrist in the Washington Heights Clinic
Dr. Ng is a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist with an interest in HIV, public psychiatry, and family issues. He is Director of clinical services for the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. He is also the medical director of the Integrated Mental Health Program, Home Based Crisis Intervention Program, and the School-Based Mental Health Program. He serves as treasurer of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and has been the past president of the New York Council on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.