Philip R. Szeszko, PhD

Associate Investigator, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience, The Feinstein Institute for Medical research

Associate Investigator, Department of Psychiatry Research, The Zucker Hillside Hospital

Associate Professor, Psychiatry & Molecular Medicine, Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine

Phone: (718) 470-8489

About the Investigator

In addition to his position as Associate Investigator at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Philip Szeszko is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Molecular Medicine at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. He received his B.S. in Psychology with Honors from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from St. John’s University.

Dr. Szeszko has received grant funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the DANA Foundation, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (Young and Independent Investigator Awards), Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and was a prior recipient of a Mentored Research Scientist development Award (K01). He is currently the Principal Investigator of a program project for the Zucker Hillside Hospital Center for Interventional Development and Applied Research (CIDAR). Dr. Szeszko has authored or co-authored over 80 peer-reviewed publications and sits on the Editorial Boards of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry and Schizophrenia Research and Treatment.

Research Focus

Thanks to modern in-vivo methods for neuroimaging, Dr. Szeszko’s lab is examining the brains of patients with psychiatric disorders using magnetic resonance imaging. The goal of this work is to identify the structural and functional abnormalities that play a role in the pathogenesis of disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder and to identify neuroimaging predictors of treatment response and outcome and translate these findings from “bench to beside.”  Prior work by his group suggests that magnetic resonance imaging can be used to predict treatment response in patients experiencing a first-episode of schizophrenia and an ongoing study is examining the use of diffusion tensor imaging to predict which patients with schizophrenia may be most likely to benefit from omega-3 treatment.

Dr. Szeszko’s work has also focused on the role of the anterior hippocampus in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, and he has demonstrated that structural alterations in this region have a unique set of neuropsychological correlates, which implicate a defect in connectivity between the frontal and temporal lobes. In addition, his work has shown that this part of the hippocampus is particularly affected by stress, thus making it a potentially important target for environmental insults, which could lead to the manifestation of schizophrenia.  Along these lines an additional focus of Dr. Szeszko’s work has been the examination of genetic factors linked to variation in brain structure and function.  Prior work by his group suggests that the BDNF val66met polymorphism is associated with hippocampal volume in patients with schizophrenia and healthy volunteers.  Recent work in his lab is investigating the role of specific hippocampal subregions in the neurobiology of first-episode schizophrenia using structural morphometry.

Dr. Szeszko’s lab is also using diffusion tensor imaging to discern the neurobiological basis of white matter abnormalities in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders.  Work by his group has identified a pattern of white matter abnormalities in the left temporal lobe in patients with schizophrenia that are associated with symptom severity and neuropsychological deficits.  Ongoing studies are using tractography to identify white matter bundles that innervate cortical and subcortical brain regions and their purported role in the phenomenology of psychiatric disorders and the unaffected siblings of patients. Moreover, using diffusion spectrum imaging, Dr. Szeszko is examining how abnormalities in crossing white matter pathways contribute to the neurobiology of schizophrenia.

Lab Members

John Cholewa, BS

Jamie Wagner, BA


State University of New York at Stony Brook
Degree: BS with Honors
Field of Study: Psychology

St. John’s University
Degree: PhD
Field of Study: Clinical Psychology

Zucker Hillside Hospital
Degree: Postdoctoral Fellowship
Field of Study: Clinical Neurosciences

Awards & Honors

1995 Scottish Rite Dissertation Fellowship Award
1995 American Psychological Association Dissertation Grant Award
1996 Faculty Research Award from Small Grants Program at Hillside Hospital, LIJMC
1997 Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation Research Grant
1998 NARSAD Young Investigator Award
2000 Northwell Health Faculty Research Award
2001 ICOSR Young Investigator Travel Award
2001 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01)
2003 NARSAD Young Investigator Award
2008 Northwell Health Faculty Research Award
2009 NARSAD Independent Investigator Award
2013 Distinguished Clinical Psychology Alumnus
2013 Full Member, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

  1. Argyelan M, Ikuta T, DeRosse P, Braga RJ, Burdick KE, John M, Kingsley PB, Malhotra AK, Szeszko PR. “Resting-state FMRI connectivity impairment in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.” Schizophr Bull. 2014 Jan;40(1):100-10. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbt092. Epub 2013 Jul 12. PubMed PMID: 23851068.
  2. Mahon K, Burdick KE, Ikuta T, Braga RJ, Gruner P, Malhotra AK, Szeszko PR. “Abnormal temporal lobe white matter as a biomarker for genetic risk of bipolar disorder. Biol Psychiatry.” 2013 Jan 15;73(2):177-82. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.07.033. Epub 2012 Oct 1. PubMed PMID: 23036958.
  3. Gruner P, Vo A, Ikuta T, Mahon K, Peters BD, Malhotra AK, Uluğ AM, Szeszko PR. “White matter abnormalities in pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology.” 2012 Nov;37(12):2730-9. doi: 10.1038/npp.2012.138. Epub 2012 Aug 8. PubMed PMID: 22871914.
  4. Wellington RL, Bilder RM, Napolitano B, Szeszko PR. “Effects of age on prefrontal subregions and hippocampal volumes in young and middle-aged healthy humans.” Hum Brain Mapp. 2013 Sep;34(9):2129-40. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22054. Epub 2012 Apr 10. PubMed PMID: 22488952.
  5. Szeszko PR, Narr KL, Phillips OR, McCormack J, Sevy S, Gunduz-Bruce H, Kane JM, Bilder RM, Robinson DG. “Magnetic resonance imaging predictors of treatment response in first-episode schizophrenia.” Schizophr Bull. 2012 May;38(3):569-78. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbq126. Epub 2010 Nov 17. PubMed PMID: 21084552.
  6. Ardekani BA, Tabesh A, Sevy S, Robinson DG, Bilder RM, Szeszko PR. “Diffusion tensor imaging reliably differentiates patients with schizophrenia from healthy volunteers.” Hum Brain Mapp. 2011 Jan;32(1):1-9. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20995. PubMed PMID: 20205252.
  7. Mahon K, Burdick KE, Szeszko PR. “A role for white matter abnormalities in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder.” Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2010 Mar;34(4):533-54. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2009.10.012. Epub 2009 Nov 6. Review. PubMed PMID: 19896972.
  8. Szeszko PR, Hodgkinson CA, Robinson DG, Derosse P, Bilder RM, Lencz T, Burdick KE, Napolitano B, Betensky JD, Kane JM, Goldman D, Malhotra AK. “DISC1 is associated with prefrontal cortical gray matter and positive symptoms in schizophrenia.” Biol Psychol. 2008 Sep;79(1):103-10. Epub 2007 Nov 1. PubMed PMID: 18078707.

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