Hi, I’m Uma!

About Uma

Uma R. Chatterjee, M.S., MHPS

Uma is a neuroscientist, board-certified Mental Health Peer Specialist (MHPS), science communicator, and mental health advocate + organizer. Read more about Uma’s story, work, & roles below!

Neuroscientist & Doctoral Researcher

Uma is currently a Neuroscience Ph.D student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as part of the Neuroscience Training Program in the School of Medicine & Public Health. She is conducting her thesis research in Dr. Michael Cahill’s lab, studying the underlying mechanisms of debilitating psychiatric conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her ultimate goal is to study & develop novel therapeutic targets for OCD with a particular interest in the mechanisms of action driving psychedelic & psychoplastogenic compounds. Above all, her hope is to help lessen unnecessary human suffering – driven largely from her own survivorship of severe mental illness. Read more about her research here.

Non-Traditional Student

She earned her M.S. in Neuroscience from University of Texas-Dallas. As a graduate student researcher in Dr. Benedict Kolber’s lab within the Department of Neuroscience’s Center for Advanced Pain Studies (CAPS), her previous lab studied the molecular, cellular, & systems-level mechanisms driving the hemispheric lateralization of the central amygdala in chronic pain & comorbid psychiatric conditions.

She also holds a B.S in Psychology – notably earned as a non-traditional student. Listen to her full story of being a non-traditional student, from being debilitated by chronic illnesses + dropping out with a 1.83 GPA to earning 2 degrees & becoming a 4.0 biomedical Ph.D student, here. Hear her journey of navigating graduate school admissions as a non-traditional student, here.
Watch Uma talk through her non-traditional academic path with Dr. Ben Rein at the Aspiring Scientists Coalition meeting.

Psychedelic Researcher

Uma also conducts award-winning psychedelic research, bringing together her interdisciplinary background to study the effects of psychedelic-assisted therapy on comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder across several disciplines, including neurobiology, neuropharmacology, psychology, clinical trial/research design, and phenomenology. Uma has presented her research at numerous scientific conferences & research symposia worldwide and has received several accolades for her novel findings, including winning several presentation, research, & travel grant awards. Learn more about her psychedelic research here, and watch some of her past conference presentations below.

Uma’s main stage research talk at Breaking Convention 2023 – Exeter, England

Uma’s first place winning research talk at the PsychedelX 2023 conference

Globally-Invited Speaker, Advocate, Science Communicator, & Podcaster

Uma’s neurobiology research, global MHPS practice, and advocacy are all informed by her lived experience with severe psychiatric disorders (OCD, PTSD, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, + more), young-adult cancer, chronic illnesses, disabilities, and her identities as a non-traditional student and 2nd generation South Asian immigrant. Her survivorship serves as the bedrock of her advocacy, carried out through her work as an educator, science communicator, globally-invited public speaker, and host of the podcast A Chat with Uma.’ Listen to her full mental health journey here (pt. 1)here (pt. 2), and here (pt. 3).

A seasoned speaker, Uma has presented at 25+ conferences and over 150 events worldwide, delivering keynote addresses, research presentations, and panel presentations to audiences over 3,000 attendees. She has also been featured for her research and advocacy in several media initiatives, including Biohaven’s global OCD Commercial & Awareness campaign, UCL’s OCD & The Brain project, the American Psychological Association (APA)’s Speaking of Psychology podcast episode on OCDthe National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), Nature, American Chemical Society, NOCD, & more.

Uma’s interdisciplinary background and life experiences all inform her perspective as an emerging researcher in the field of psychiatric neurobiology, and she will continue researching psychiatric disorders and psychedelics through her doctoral research. Listen to Uma’s podcast here, view many past speaking engagements here, and read/watch/listen to several media features here.
A Chat with Uma
Podcast by Uma R. Chatterjee
American Psychological Association (APA)’s podcast – Speaking of Psychology

OCD Myths & Realities with Dr. Dean McKay, Ph.D and Uma Chatterjee

Mental Health Peer Specialist

Uma is also a board-certified Mental Health Peer Specialist (MHPS), specializing in PTSD, OCD, AYA Cancer, Chronic Illness, and eating disorders. Uma serves people through her mental health peer support practice, in 1:1 and group capacities, in practice since 2021. Uma is also the founder & facilitator of The Cancer Thriver Collective, a global mental health peer support group system for cancer survivors, inspired by her own diagnosis of metastatic thyroid cancer at 22. Read more about her MHPS practice and offerings here.

Service & Leadership

Uma serves on the board of directors for the Intercollegiate Psychedelics Network (IPN) as Director of Strategy, spearheading equitable educational and mentorship initiatives for students in the psychedelic field. She also serves as a global advocate for the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), facilitating IOCDF initiatives through neurobiology education projects and raising awareness for OCD and mental health in historically excluded populations. She is a member of the Board of Directors of OCD Wisconsin, Wisconsin’s official IOCDF affiliate organization, and has been voted OCD WI’s incoming Executive President for 2025. Uma also serves on the Board of Counselors of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) – Upper Midwest Chapter, leading outreach & neuroscience science communication initiatives aimed toward bridging the gap between researchers and lived experience communities.
the intercollegiate
psychedelics network

Board of Directors – Strategy

OCD Foundation

IOCDF Advocate


Board of Directors

Society for Neuroscience (SfN) – Upper midwest chapter

Board of Counselors