Ezra Susser, MD, DrPH

  • Professor of Epidemiology
  • Professor of Psychiatry
Profile Headshot


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.


Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Epidemiology
  • Professor of Psychiatry

Administrative Titles

  • Director, Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program
  • Director, The Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies Advisor


  • Male

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • 1974 BA, Columbia University
  • 1982 Columbia University
  • 1982 MPH, Columbia University
  • 1992 DrPH, Columbia University

Committees, Societies, Councils

Member, American Epidemiological Society

Member, American College of Epidemioloy

Member, Society for Epidemiologic Research

Member, American Psychopathological Association

Scientific Advisory Board Member, Autism Speaks

Editorial Boards

International Journal of Epidemiology, Editor

Epidemiology and Psychiatric Science

Developmental Origins of Health and Disease

Honors & Awards

Hamilton Award, President, American Psychopathological Association, 2012

Zubin Award, American Psychopathological Association, 2010

Rema Lapouse Award, American Public Health Association, 2011

WG Armstrong Lectureship Award, Univerisity of Sydney, School of Public Health and Australian Health Policy Institute, 2007

NARSAD Distinguished Scientist Award, 2009


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.

Research Interests

  • Child and Adolescent Health
  • Chronic disease
  • Community Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Food Policy and Obesity
  • Genetics
  • Global Health
  • Healthcare Policy
  • Maternal and Reproductive Health
  • Mental Health
  • Public Health Education
  • Substance Use Disorders

Selected Publications

  • Reichenberg A, Gross R, Weiser M, Bresnahan M, Silverman JM, Harlap S, Rabinowitz J, Shulman C, Malespina D, Lubin G, Knobler HY, Davidson M, Susser E. : Advancing paternal age and autism. Archives of General Psychiatry 2006;63: 1026-1032
  • McClellan J, Susser E, King MC. : Maternal famine, de novo mutations and schizophrenia.. Journal of the American Medical Association 2006;296(3): 582-584
  • Brown AS, Begg MD, Gravenstein S, Schaefer CA, Wyatt RJ, Bresnahan M, Babulas V, Susser E: Serologic evidence for prenatal influenza in the etiology of schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry 2004;61: 774-780
  • Susser E, Schaefer C, Brown A, Begg M, Wyatt RJ: The Design of the Prenatal Determinants of Schizophrenia (PDS). Schizophrenia Bulletin 2000;26(2): 257-273
  • Susser E, Schwartz S, Morabia A, Begg M, Gorman J, Bromet E: Psychiatric Epidemiology:Searching for the Causes of Mental Disorders, New York:Oxford University Press , New York, NY, USA, 2006

Global Health Activities

RedeAmericas Network for Mental Health Research in Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia: Dr. Susser leads RedeAmericas, a network for mental health research in Latin America, funded by NIMH. RedeAmericas includes six urban areas in four countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia). RedeAmericas is developing and testing interventions to improve mental health services, including an adaptation of CTI (see Urban Health Activities). It is also training awardees from those countries in epidemiology and mental health.

AFFIRM: Dr. Susser is a multi-PI (lead PI Crick Lund) of AFFIRM, a network for mental health research in Sub-Saharan Africa. AFFIRM is developing and testing interventions to improve mental health services. It is also training awardees from Sub-Saharan Africa in mental health research.

CAPRISA, South Africa: Dr. Susser has had a long-term connection to Universities (especially UKZN) and other institutions in South Africa. This has included training programs in epidemiology, development of mental health services, and exploring connections between HIV and mental illness. He also played a key role in the establishment of CAPRISA, a major HIV/AIDS collaboration led by Dr. Karim at UKZN, of which Columbia is one of the Centers.

Urban Health Activities

Critical Time Intervention (CTI): Dr. Susser led the initial development and testing in New York City of the Critical Time Intervention (CTI) for prevention of recurrent homelessness among people with schizophrenia. CTI has subsequently been adapted and tested for related purposes in New York City, other areas in the United States, and other countries, under the leadership now of Dan Herman and Sarah Conover (www.criticaltime.org). Dr. Susser is now leading an adaptation of CTI for use in urban areas of Latin America (see Global Activities).

Columbia Center for Homelessness Prevention Studies (CHPS): Dr. Susser helped develop and served up to 2009 as co-Director of the Center for Homelessness Prevention Service and Research (Director Carol Caton). This Center helps initiate and support an array of research and services for prevention of homelessness, with Dr. Susser's focus primarily on prevention among people with severe mental illness.