Maria A. Oquendo, MD
Professor of Psychiatry at CUMC
Director, Clinical Studies in Molecular Imaging and Neuropathology Division, NYS Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University
Vice Chair for Education
Residency Training Director
Maria A. Oquendo, M.D. is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University, Vice Chair for Education, Director of Residency Training at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Her areas of expertise include the diagnosis, pharmacologic treatment and neurobiology of Bipolar Disorder and Major Depression, with a special focus on suicidal behavior as well as cross-cultural psychiatry. Dr. Oquendo graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University in 1980 and received her M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1984.
She completed her residency in Psychiatry at the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Oquendo is the principal investigator on several NIMH funded projects: a prospective study of suicidal behavior in patients with affective disorders, a training grant for Translational Neuroscience and a training grant in Global Mental Health. She is also a co-investigator on four other NIMH-funded research studies examining the neurobiology of suicidal behavior or mood disorders.
Dr. Oquendo teaches at Columbia University. Dr. Oquendo is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and a member of American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry, American College of Psychiatrists, Association of Women Psychiatrists and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
She is on the Scientific Advisory Council of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She has authored or co-authored over 220 peer-reviewed articles. She is the recipient of many awards. Examples include Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (1993); Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill for Commitment to Multicultural and Underserved Communities (2002); Gerald Klerman Award from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (2005); National Hispanic Medical Association Hispanic Health Leadership Award (2009); Sociedad Espanola de Psiquiatria, Miembro de Honor (2009); Simon Bolivar Award, American Psychiatric Association (2010);Rafael Tavares Award, Association of Hispanic Mental Health Providers (2010) and she was named Honorary Professor, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru in 2011.
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This prospective, parallel group, double blind, random assignment treatment study of suicide attempters with Bipolar Disorder, compares the effects of acute and maintenance treatment with lithium and valproate in the prevention of suicidal behavior in these subjects. The project will test the following hypotheses: (1) Lithium treatment will be superior to valproate in the prevention of suicidal behavior (suicidal acts or episodes of suicidal ideation with a plan that would require a change in treatment such as addition of a rescue medication or hospitalization). (2) The two treatment groups will not differ in terms of the total number of episodes of, or total duration in, a major depression or mixed mood states.
Relationship to Suicidal Behavior and 5-HTT promotor genotype Using PET and 11C-McN5652 in vivo visualization of the Serotonin Transporter is possible. Comparisons of 5-HTT binding in bipolar patients with and without suicidal behavior and the relationship between 5-HTT binding and the S and L alleles for the promotor region of the gene for 5-HTT.
Children aged 5 to 25 who have at least one parent with bipolar disorder receive thorough clinical and neuropsychological evaluation. In addition, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and genetic data is obtained in order to identify early genetic, neurobiological, neuropsychological and clinical risk factors for this disabling, heritable disorder.
We will test the hypothesis that fluoxetine, an SSRI, will be associated with fewer suicide events (defined as suicidal acts or increases in suicidal ideation necessitating a change in management), decreased suicidal ideation and decreases in neuropsychological measures of impulsivity compared to bupropion. The non-serotonergic drug, bupropion will improve energy and hopelessness. We expect the two drugs to be equally efficacious in reducing global depression severity. We will compare fluoxetine with bupropion in a 6-month randomized, controlled study of major depressive disorder and comorbid alcoholism in patients who have a prior history of suicide attempt. The study will provide six months of antidepressant pharmacotherapy as well as psychotherapy focused on alcohol relapse prevention. Patients will also be encouraged to attend daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The outcome measures will be: 1) occurrence of suicide events; 2) reduction of suicidal ideation; 3) reduction in neuropsychological measures of impulsivity.
This study examines clinical and neurobiological factors related to suicide attempts. It is the first prospective study of suicidal behavior using biological and clinical measures in two major diagnostic groups in the U.S.; schizophrenia and major depression. The aims are: 1.) To assess potential clinical predictors of suicide attempts during a two year follow-up in mood disorders. About one hundred subjects with MDE will also have Borderline Personality Disorder; 2.) To assess the relationship of serotonergic and HPA function and other biological indices to suicide attempt behavior during a two year follow-up; 3.) To compare neurobiological and clinical predictors of high versus lower lethality suicide attempts since high lethality attempts may be a proxy for completed suicide; 4.) To assess the relationship of polymorphisms of serotonin-related and other candidate genes to past and future suicidal behavior and to indices of serotonergic function.
Suicidal Behavior in Latinos with Major Mood Disorders
Much of the preliminary work of scale translation for this project has been completed and published. We intend to study suicidal behavior in Latinos in the US of Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican and Mexican heritage. Epidemiologic data strongly suggests that there are differences in the prevalence of suicide attempts and completions in these groups and that these differences are not accounted for by differences in rates of Major Depressive Episodes.