Ezra S. Susser, MD, DrPH, is the Director of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training program. His research focuses on two main areas. One is examining the role of early life experience in health and disease throughout the life course. He heads the Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies, which fosters collaborative research and intellectual exchange among investigators studying developmental origins in birth cohorts across the globe. As one example, the findings from a series of studies have suggested that exposure to famine in early gestation is associated with increased schizophrenia among offspring. The other is global mental health. He is a co-founder of the Global Mental Health Program at Columbia. Much of Dr. Susser's early work focused on the course of schizophrenia and especially on social outcomes. In his early research career he was involved in follow-up studies of psychoses in the United States and across the globe, including the WHO International Study of Schizophrenia. He also conducted studies of homelessness and its prevention among patients with schizophrenia. This work included the development and testing of the initial version of Critical Time Intervention (CTI) for prevention of recurrent homelessness. Currently CTI is being adapted for use in low and middle income countries, and a version is being piloted for a regional trial across three countries in Latin America. Dr. Susser is also involved in work on schizophrenia in other regions, for example, in South Africa he and colleagues are laying the groundwork for the first study of the incidence of psychoses in Africa, and have undertaken the first large study of genetics of schizophrenia in a population of African ancestry. Dr. Susser is an editor of the International Journal of Epidemiology, lead author of the main textbook on psychiatric epidemiology, and former chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health (1999-2008).
DirectorThe Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies
Co-InvestigatorCentre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)
International Journal of Epidemiology, Editor
Epidemiology and Psychiatric Science
Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Member, American Epidemiological Society
Member, American College of Epidemioloy
Member, Society for Epidemiologic Research
Member, American Psychopathological Association
Scientific Advisory Board Member, Autism Speaks
International Epidemiology Association, North American region representative
Honors & Awards
Areas of Expertise
Select 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.
Select Global Activities
RedeAmericas Network for Mental Health Research in Latin America, Chile: 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.
Susser E, Lin S, Conover S, Struening E Childhood antecedents of homelessness in psychiatric patients Am J Psychiatry 148 1026-1030 1991
Susser M, Susser E Choosing a future for epidemiology part I Am J Public Health 86 668-673 1996
Susser E, Valencia E, Conover S, Felix A, Tsai WY, Wyatt RJ Preventing recurrence of homelessness among mentally ill men: a "critical time intervention" after discharge from a shelter Am J Public Health 87 256-262 1997
Susser E, Hoek HW, Brown AS Neurodevelopmental disorders after prenatal famine: the story of the Dutch Famine Study Am J of Epidemiology 147(3) 213-216 1998
Susser E, Varma VK, Mattoo SK, Finnerty M, Mojtabai R, Tripathi BM, Misra AK, Wig NN Long-term course of acute brief psychosis in a developing country setting British Journal of Psychiatry 173 226-230 1998
Susser E, Terry MB A conception-to-death cohort Lancet 361 797-798 2003
Susser E Eco-epidemiology: thinking outside the black box Epidemiology 15 519-520 2004
Brown AS, Begg M, Gravenstein S, Schaefer C, Wyatt RJ, Bresnahan M, Babulas V, Susser ES Serologic evidence of prenatal influenza in the etiology of schizophrenia Archives of General Psychiatry 61 774-780 2004
Susser E, Schwartz S, Morabia A, Begg M, Bromet E Psychiatric Epidemiology: Searching for Causes of Mental Disorders Oxford University Press 2006
Roth C, Magnus P, Schjolberg S, Stoltenberg C, Suren P, McKeague IW, Davey SG, Reichborn-Kjennerud T, Susser E. Folic acid supplements in pregnancy and severe language delay in children. Journal of American Medical Association 306:1566-1573, 2011. PMID: 21990300