Ezra Susser, MD, PhD
Professor of Epidemiology
Professor of Psychiatry
Dr. Susser's primary research has been on the epidemiology of mental disorders, and on examining the role of early life experience in health and disease throughout the life course. His international collaborative birth cohort research program (The Imprints Center) seeks to uncover the developmental origins of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and ADHD, as well as other complex diseases. Among the risk factors explored are prenatal exposures to infectious disease and toxic chemicals, childhood nutrition and environment, and genetics, as well as the interplay of genetic and environmental risk factors. His most recent research addresses the role of in utero de novo genetic mutations in the development of schizophrenia in adulthood. Dr. Susser’s work has addressed the health of inner city populations, examining relationships between homelessness, mental illness, and HIV/AIDS.
Much of Dr. Susser's research focuses on the developmental origins of health and disease throughout the life course. These longitudinal studies emanate from his earlier work on the population affected by the Dutch Famine (1944-45) and neurodevelopmental etiologies of schizophrenia. Those findings have recently been replicated on a broad scale based on the population in utero at the time of the massive famine precipitated by China's Great Leap Forward in 1959-61. Dr. Susser is pursuing new research in this population on the role of de novo gene mutation as a consequence of nutritional deprivation during gestation. He heads the Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies, a collaborative birth cohort research program in which epidemiologists seek to uncover the causes of a broad range of disease and health outcomes, including psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, obesity, cardiovascular disease, reproductive performance, and breast and ovarian cancers. Dr. Susser has also taken an active role in using epidemiology to better understand social inequalities of health by focusing in the health of inner city populations. He is the Co-Director of the Columbia Center for Homelessness Prevention Studies, an interdisciplinary research center focused on the prevention of homelessness among people with severe mental illness.