Dr. Ahmari is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of Pittsburgh, and Director of the Translational OCD Laboratory. She is affiliated with the Translational Neuroscience Program and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition.
After graduating from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with Bachelor of Science degrees in Biochemistry and Honors Biology, Dr. Ahmari entered the MD-PhD program at Stanford University. For her PhD, she used advanced microscopy techniques to examine mechanisms underlying synapse formation in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Smith. After completing the MD-PhD program, she performed internship and residency in psychiatry at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.
Dr. Ahmari graduated from residency in 2007, and began her NIMH-sponsored research fellowship in Affective and Anxiety Disorders under the mentorship of Dr. Rene Hen and Dr. Blair Simpson. In July 2010, she received a K08 Award from NIMH to develop translational research approaches in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and became an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University. During her K08, she pioneered the use of optogenetics to dissect neural circuits underlying OCD-relevant behaviors (Ahmari et al, Science, 2013). In October 2013, she moved to her current position at University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Ahmari’s research program integrates basic neuroscience approaches and cutting-edge technology with clinical studies of OCD patients. Her lab combines optogenetics, in vivo electrophysiology, transgenic technology, in vivo microscopy, and translatable behavioral measures to investigate pathophysiology underlying compulsive behaviors and anxiety. Her ultimate goal is to identify molecular, cellular, and circuit-level changes that underlie the onset and persistence of abnormal repetitive and compulsive behaviors, and use this information to develop principled, neuroscientifically-based treatments for OCD and other related disorders. Her work is currently supported by an NIMH BRAINS Award, Burroughs Wellcome Career Award, McKnight Scholar Award, and Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Award.