Mortimer D Sackler Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, Division Director, Child and Adolescent 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. Shuffrey LC, Guter SJ, Delaney S, Jacob S, Anderson GM, Sutcliffe JS, Cook EH, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (In Press). Is there sexual dimorphism of hyperserotonemia in Autism Spectrum Disorder? Autism Research.
  2. Simmler LD, Anacker AMJ, Levin MH, Vaswani NM, Gresch PJ, Nackenoff AG, Anastasio NC, Stutz SJ, Cunningham KA, Wang J, Zhang B, Keith Henry L, Stewart A, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Blakely RD (In Press). Serotonin Transporter Blockade Contributes to the Behavioral, Neuronal, and Molecular Effects of Cocaine. British Journal of Pharmacology.
  3. Rogers TD, Anacker AMJ, Kerr TM, Forsberg CG, Wang J, Zhang B, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (2017). Effects of a social stimulus on gene expression in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome. Molecular Autism 8:30.
  4. Zike ID, Kopelman JM, Chohan MO, Krasnow E, Bubser M, Kellendonk C, Jones CK, Stanwood GD, Tanaka KF, Moore H, Ahmari SE#, Veenstra-VanderWeele J# (2017). OCD candidate gene SLC1A1/EAAT3 impacts basal ganglia-mediated activity and stereotypic behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 114: 5719-5724. #Shared corresponding authorship
  5. Marler S, Ferguson BJ, Lee EB, Peters B, Williams KC, McDonnell E, Macklin EA, Levitt P, Margolis KG, Beversdorf DQ, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (2017). Association of rigid-compulsive behavior with functional constipation in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 47: 1673-1681.
  6. Lake J, Denton D, Lunsky Y, Shui A, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Anagnostou E (2017). Medical conditions and demographic, service and clinical factors associated with atypical antipsychotic medication use among young children with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 47: 1391-1402.
  7. Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Cook EH, King BH, Zarevics P, Cherubini M, Walton-Bowen K, Bear MF, Wang PP, Carpenter RL (2017). Arbaclofen in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: a randomized, controlled, phase 2 trial. Neuropsychopharmacology 42: 1390-1398.
  8. Siemann JK, Muller CL, Forsberg CG, Blakely RD, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Wallace MT (2017). An autism-associated serotonin transporter variant disrupts multisensory processing. Translational Psychiatry 7: e1067.
  9. Zike I, Xu T, Hong N, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (2017). Rodent models of obsessive compulsive disorder: Evaluating validity to interpret emerging neurobiology. Neuroscience 345: 256-273.
  10. Ferguson BJ, Marler S, Altstein LL, Lee EB, Akers J, Sohl K, McLaughlin A, Hartnett K, Kille B, Mazurek M, Macklin E, McDonnell E, Barstow M, Bauman ML, Margolis KG, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, & Beversdorf DQ (2017). Psychophysiological associations with gastrointestinal symptomatology in autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research 10: 276-288.
  11. Muller CL, Anacker AMJ, Rogers TD, Keller E, Goeden N, Forsberg KG, Kerr T, Shah CS, Wallace MT, Anderson GM, Stanwood GD, Bonnin A, Blakely RD, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (2017). Maternal genotype of an autism risk variant impacts placental and forebrain serotonin system. Neuropsychopharmacology 42:427-436.
  12. Luna RA, Oezguen N, Balderas M, Venkatachalam A, Runge J, Versalovic J, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Anderson GM, Savidge T, Williams KC (2016). Distinct microbiome-neuroimmune signatures correlate with functional abdominal pain in children with autism spectrum disorders. Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology 3: 218-230.
  13. Ferguson BJ, Marler S, Altstein LL, Lee EB, Mazurek M, McLaughlin A, Macklin EA, McDonnell E, Davis D, Belenchia AM, Gillespie CH, Peterson CA, Bauman ML, Margolis KG, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, & Beversdorf DQ (2016). Associations between cytokines, endocrine stress response, and gastrointestinal symptoms in autism spectrum disorder. Brain Behavior and Immunity 58: 57-62.
  14. Anagnostou E, Aman MG, Handen BL, Sanders KB, Shui A, Hollway JA, Brian J, Arnold LE, Capano L, Hellings JA, Butter E, Mankad D, Tumuluru R, Kettel J, Newsom C, Peleg N, Odrobina D, McAuliffe-Bellin S, Zakroysky P, Marler S, Wagner A, Wong T, Macklin EA, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (2016). Metformin for treatment of overweight induced by atypical antipsychotic medication in young people with autism spectrum disorder: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry 73: 928-937.
  15. Margolis KG, Li Z, Stevanovic K, Saurman V, Israelyan N, Anderson GM, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Blakely RD, Gershon MD (2016). Serotonin transporter variant drives preventable gastrointestinal abnormalities in development and function. Journal of Clinical Investigation 126: 2221-2235.
  16. Nackenoff AG, Moussa-Tooks AB, McMeekin AM, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Blakely RD (2016). Essential contributions of serotonin transporter inhibition in the acute and chronic actions of fluoxetine and citalopram in the SERT Met172 mouse. Neuropsychopharmacology 41: 1733-1741.
  17. Marler S, Ferguson BJ, Lee EB, Peters B, Williams KC, McDonnell E, Macklin EA, Gillespie CH, Anderson GM, Margolis KG, Beversdorf DQ, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (2016). Whole blood serotonin levels and gastrointestinal symptoms in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 46: 1124-1130.
  18. Muller CL, Anacker AMJ, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (2016). The serotonin system in autism spectrum disorder: from biomarker to animal models. Neuroscience 321: 24-41.
  19. Ezell J, Shui A, Sanders K, Veenstra-VanderWeele J (2016). Pattern of diagnosis and co-occurring symptoms in adopted children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Pediatrics 137: S90-97.
  20. McGuire K, Fung LK, Vasa RA, Mahajan R, Bernal P, Silberman AE, Wolfe A, Coury DL, Hardan AY, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Whitaker AH (2016). Irritability and problem behavior in Autism Spectrum Disorder: a practice pathway for pediatric primary care. Pediatrics 137: S136-148.
  21. Greenlee JL, Mosley AS, Shui AM, Sanders KB, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Gotham KO (2016). Medical and behavioral correlates of depression history in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Pediatrics 137: S105-114.
  22. Fung LK, Mahajan R, Nozzolillo A, Bernal P, Denton DG, Krasner A, Jo B, Coury D, Whitaker A, Veenstra-Vanderweele J, Hardan A (2016). Pharmacologic treatment of irritability in Autism Spectrum Disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pediatrics 137: S124-135.
  • R01- MH114296
    Investigation of EAAT3 in OCD Pathophysiology
    Multi-Principal Investigator
  • T32-MH016434
    Translational Research Training in Child Psychiatry
    Principal Investigator 2017-2020
  • U01-NS096767
    Effects of AFQ056 on Language Learning in Young Children with Fragile X Syndrome (FXS)
    Site Principal Investigator (NeuroNext Network)
  • SFARI Pilot Award 402220
    Autophagy Pathway as a Novel Therapeutic Target in Autism
    Co-Principal Investigator
    Simons Foundation
  • U01-HD073984
    Study of Oxytocin in Autism to Improve Reciprocal Social Behaviors (SOARS-B)
    Site Principal Investigator (Multi-site ACE Network)
  • P50-MH096972
    Enduring Impact of Early-Life Serotonin Signaling
    Project Co-Principal Investigator

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