James I. Hudson, MD, ScD, SM

James I. Hudson, MD, ScD, SM

McLean Hospital Title
  • Director, Biological Psychiatry Laboratory

Harvard Medical School Title
  • Professor of Psychiatry


James I. Hudson, MD, ScD, SM, received his MD from Tufts University Medical School of Medicine and his ScD and SM degrees from Harvard School of Public Health. Joining McLean Hospital in 1980, he is currently a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and director of the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory and of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Program at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Hudson’s research focuses on the epidemiology, etiology, and treatment of eating disorders, mood disorders, fibromyalgia, personality disorders, and substance use disorders. He conducts clinical drug trials related to these and other conditions. He has also contributed to the development of statistical methods in psychiatric epidemiology. He has authored more than 400 scientific communications, including articles, chapters, abstracts, and books.

Research Focus:

Dr. Hudson, in conjunction with Harrison G. Pope, MD, MPH, founded the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory in 1984 to study the causes, features, and treatments of mood disorders, eating disorders, psychotic disorders, personality disorders, and substance abuse. Their research reflects and reinforces the advancing scientific understanding of mental disorders and their biological basis.

Dr. Hudson is a leading authority on binge eating disorder, a common cause of severe obesity, and also previously pioneered new insights into the causes and treatment of bulimia nervosa. The laboratory is arguably the leading research center in the world on the abuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). In addition, they have published extensively on the neuropsychological effects of cannabis (marijuana), “ecstasy,” and hallucinogens.

Binge eating disorder is a risk factor for obesity and carries a large public health burden. Dr. Hudson’s research addresses the prevalence and correlates of binge eating disorder, the disability associated with binge eating disorder, and the effectiveness of medications to treat binge eating disorder including studies most recently of lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse).

The lab’s other active studies are varied. In a multimodal neuroimaging study, they are using functional MRI (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to identify early functional and neurochemical changes in the brains of patients with major depression who are taking the antidepressant citalopram. These changes might predict later treatment response.

Dr. Hudson and his staff are also using fMRI and MRS to examine functional and neurochemical abnormalities in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex in patients with severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Potentially this will provide valuable insights into the neurobiology of OCD, and further support the investigation of glutamate-modulating treatments for OCD.

The lab has also explored the extent to which borderline personality disorder (BPD) and its sectors of phenotypic traits are familial, and whether BPD coaggregates with other disorders in families, the extent to which latent familial internalizing and externalizing factors contribute to BPD, the degree to which traits such as anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, and aggression are associated with BPD, and the extent to which such associations reflect common familial factors.

Dr. Hudson’s team has published extensively on the issue of memory for traumatic events such as childhood sexual abuse, pointing out that the hypothesis of “repressed memory” is not supported by valid scientific evidence.

Additionally, the lab’s researchers have developed and explored the theory that a shared physiological abnormality contributes to a range of disorders running in families. Collectively labeled “affective spectrum disorder,” these conditions include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and fibromyalgia.

  • Aaron Baggish, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Michael A. Jenike, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Marc J. Kaufman, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Joseph Kean, MSc, Lifeline Project, UK
  • Ronald C. Kessler, PhD, Harvard Medical School
  • Barbara Mangweth, PhD, University of Innsbruck, Austria
  • Scott L. Rauch, MD, McLean Hospital
  • Mary C. Zanarini, EdD, McLean Hospital
Selected Publications:

Hudson JI, Pope HG. Affective spectrum disorder: does antidepressant response identify a family of disorders with a common pathophysiology. American Journal of Psychiatry 1990;147(5):552-64.

Pope HG, McElroy SL, Keck PE, Hudson JI. Valproate in the treatment of acute mania. A placebo-controlled study. Archives of General Psychiatry 1991;48(1):62-8.

Hudson JI, Hiripi E, Pope HG, Kessler RC. The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication. Biological Psychiatry 2007;61(3):348–358.

PubMed search for Dr. Hudson


Book spines

The Psychobiology of Bulimia
Edited by James I. Hudson, Harrison G. Pope Jr.
(American Psychiatric Press, 1987)

Book spines

New Hope for Binge Eaters: Advances in the Understanding and Treatment of Bulimia
by Harrison G. Pope, Jr., MD, James I. Hudson, MD
(Harper and Row, 1984)

Education & Training

  • 1974 BA in Philosophy, Yale College
  • 1979 MD, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • 1997 SM in Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
  • 2002 ScD in Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
  • 2002 SM in Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health
  • 1979-1980 Resident in Internal Medicine, University of Chicago Hospitals
  • 1980-1983 Resident in Psychiatry, McLean Hospital
  • 1982-1983 Chief Resident in Psychopharmacology, McLean Hospital
  • 1982-1983 Ethel Dupont-Warren Fellowship, Harvard Medical School
  • 1983-1985 Research Fellow in Psychiatry, Laboratories for Psychiatric Research, McLean Hospital
  • 1998-2001 Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health
Board Certifications:
  • 1980 Medical License, Board of Registration in Medicine, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • 1980 Diplomate, National Board of Medical Examiners
  • 1986 Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • 1991 Diplomate, American Board of Sleep Medicine


Phone: 617.855.2911
Office Address: Belmont campus - Oaks Building