Susanne Ahmari, MD, PhD, Named an Inaugural Recipient of Health Sciences Ascending Star Award

We are thrilled to announce that Susanne Ahmari, MD, PhD (Associate Professor of Psychiatry), has been awarded an inaugural Pitt Health Sciences Ascending Star Award, which recognizes highly productive, creative, mid-career faculty members from across the Health Sciences. 

Dr. Ahmari is an expert in the identification of the molecular, cellular, and circuit mechanisms underlying obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). She is one of only a few individuals worldwide with demonstrated expertise and achievement in both clinical research and basic neuroscience in the OCD field, and her outstanding contributions are facilitating the development of new ideas for the treatment of the disorder. For example, she has demonstrated that short bursts of abnormal neural activity can cause long-lasting change in behavior and neurophysiology. 

Dr. Ahmari currently leads a National Institute of Mental Health-funded R01 focused on dissecting the role of striatal cell types in abnormal repetitive behaviors and treatment response, and an National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke R01 examining lateral orbitofrontal cortex and secondary motor area balance in the control and execution of sequenced behaviors. In 2021, she was recruited to serve as the inaugural program director at Wellcome Leap where she is leading Leap’s mental illness research initiative, focused on developing new mechanistic treatments for anhedonic depression.

Dr. Ahmari has received multiple prestigious honors and awards, including being the first psychiatrist chosen by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for a Career Award in the Medical Sciences. In addition, she is a recipient of a National Institutes of Health BRAINS Award, the inaugural MQ Fellows Award, the McKnight Scholar Award, the Klingenstein Fellowship Award, the Society of Biological Psychiatry’s A.E. Bennett Research Award, and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology’s Eva King Killam Research Award. Dr. Ahmari is a Kavli Fellow and a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigators. 

In addition to Dr. Ahmari’s research contributions, she has greatly impacted the educational missions of the Department and the University. She is a highly sought-after mentor, and has supervised numerous postdoctoral fellows, undergraduate and graduate students, psychiatry residents, and medical students. In 2020, her contributions were recognized with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine/Carnegie Mellon University William E. Brown Outstanding MSTP Mentor Award. 

“Dr. Ahmari is is highly deserving of this honor. Her unique ability to bridge clinical insight with neuroscience research has enabled her to make multiple key contributions to psychiatry and establish an outstanding national and international reputation as an expert in OCD research,” said David Lewis, MD (Chair, Department of Psychiatry). “Her innovative work has been published in many high-impact journals in neuroscience and psychiatry, and she is an excellent mentor and valued collaborator.”

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Ahmari!