Mortimer D Sackler Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Columbia University
New York State Psychiatric Institute

1051 Riverside Drive, Rm 5911C
New York, NY 10032

Faculty Profile


Research Summary

The Veenstra-VanderWeele lab is dedicated to helping children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and their families. We are approaching this goal using a variety of techniques, from animal models to research in adults with ASD. The majority of our efforts go toward developing and studying mouse models to understand the relationship between ASD or OCD risk factors and the resulting changes in brain and behavior. We are also working to translate laboratory research findings into novel treatments for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders or related syndromal disorders.”

Dr. Veenstra-VanderWeele’s research program moved to Columbia in January, 2015, with the opening of his molecular laboratory. His team has begun using transcriptional profiling and pharmacology to generate hypotheses and test novel agents to rescue social and repetitive behavior in genetic mouse models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Additionally, a new clinical and translational research space at the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain opened in April, 2015. The first study launched in this space is testing intranasal oxytocin as a potential treatment for social impairment in ASD, with genetic, epigenetic, and biochemical markers assessed as modifiers of treatment response. Using the capabilities of this space, he is also launching a biorepository for genetic and other biomarkers within the ASD population, with the goal to identify subgroups of patients who may benefit from a precision medicine approach to treatment of their ASD.

Select Publications
  1. Veatch OJ, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Potter M, Pericak-Vance MA, Haines JL (2014). Identification of genetically meaningful phenotypic subgroups in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Genes, Brain, and Behavior 13: 276-285.
  2. Bowton E, Saunders C, Reddy IA, Campbell NG, Hamilton PJ, Henry LK, Coon H, Sakrikar D, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Blakely RD, Sutcliffe J, Matthies HJG, Erreger K, Galli A (2014). SLC6A3 coding variant Ala559Val found in two autism probands alters dopamine transporter function and trafficking. Translational Psychiatry 4: 464.
  3. Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Warren Z (2015). Intervention in the context of development: pathways toward new treatments. Neuropsychopharmacology 40: 225-237.
  4. Yu D, Mathews CA, Scharf JM,…, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, …, Stewart SE, Knowles JA, Cox NJ, Pauls DL (2015). Cross-disorder genome-wide analyses suggest a complex genetic relationship between Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry 172: 82-93.
  5. Schauder KB, Muller CL, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Cascio CJ (2015). Genetic variation in serotonin transporter modulates tactile hyperresponsiveness in ASD. Research In Autism Spectrum Disorder 10: 93-100.
  6. Siemann JK, Muller CL, Bamberger G, Allison JD, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Wallace MT (2015). A novel behavioral paradigm to assess multisensory processing in mice. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 8: 456.
  7. Ellegood J, Anagnostou E, Babineau BA, Crawley JN, Lin L, Genestine M, DiCicco-Bloom E, Lai, J, Foster J, Penagarikano O, Geschwind DH, Markx S, Karayiourgou M, Gogos JA, Pacey LK, Hampson DR, Laliberte CL, Horev G, Mills AA, Kouser M, Espinosa-Becerra F, Powell CM, Raznahan A, Nakai N, Takumi T, Van Eede M, Kerr TM, Muller C, Blakely RD, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Henkelman RM, Lerch JP (2015). Clustering autism – using neuroanatomical differences in 30 mouse models related to autism to gain insight into the heterogeneity of the disorder. Molecular Psychiatry 20: 118-125.
  8. Cartier E, Hamilton PJ, Belovich AN, Shekar A, Campbell NG, Saunders C, Andreassen TF, Gether U, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Sutcliffe JS, Ulery-Reynolds PG, Erreger K, Matthies HJG, Galli A (2015). Rare autism-associated variants implicate syntaxin 1 (STX1 R26Q) phosphorylation and the dopamine transporter (hDAT R51W) in dopamine neurotransmission and behaviors. EBioMedicine 2: 135-146.
  9. Mazalouskas M, Jessen T, Varney S, Sutcliffe J, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Cook EH, Carneiro AMD (2015). Integrin β3 haploinsufficiency modulates serotonin transport and antidepressant-sensitive behavior in mice. Neuropsychopharmacology 40: 2015-2024.
  10. Aldinger KA, Lane CJ, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Levitt P (In Press). Patterns of risk for multiple co-occurring medical conditions replicate across distinct cohorts of children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research.
  11. Fung LK, Mahajan R, Nozzolillo A, Bernal P, Denton DG, Krasner A, Jo B, Coury D, Whitaker A, Veenstra-Vanderweele J, Hardan A (In Press). Pharmacologic treatment of irritability in Autism Spectrum Disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pediatrics.
  12. Greenlee JL, Mosley AS, Shui AM, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Gotham KO (In Press). Medical and behavioral correlates of depression history in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Pediatrics.
  13. McGuire K, Fung LK, Vasa RA, Mahajan R, Bernal P, Silberman AE, Wolfe A, Coury DL, Hardan AY, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Whitaker AH (In Press). Practice pathway for irritability, agitation, and aggression in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evaluation and individualized treatment planning. Pediatrics.
  14. Ezell J, Shui A, Sanders K, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (In Press). Pattern of diagnosis and co-occurring symptoms in adopted children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Pediatrics.
  15. McGuire K, Shui A, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (In Press). Clinical correlates of early generalized overgrowth in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • R21-MH096200Translating OCD Gene-Association Studies into Mice to Examine SLC1A1 FunctionCo-Principal Investigator




  • R01- MH094604Neurobiological Signatures of Social Dysfunction and Repetitive BehaviorPrincipal Investigator

    2011-2016 NIH


  • U01-HD073984Study of Oxytocin in Autism to Improve Reciprocal Social Behaviors (SOARS-B)Site Principal Investigator (Multi-site ACE Network)




  • P50-MH096972Enduring Impact of Early-Life Serotonin SignalingProject Co-Principal Investigator

    2012-2017 NIH


  • AIR-PTreatment of Overweight Induced by Antipsychotic Medication in Young People with ASDSite Principal Investigator (Multi-site clinical trial grant)

    2012-2015 HRSA


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