Lee Elizabeth Wachtel, M.D.

  • Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Autism, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Child Development and Behavioral Health, Child Psychiatry, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences ...read more


Lee E. Wachtel, MD, is the medical director and an attending child psychiatrist of the Neurobehavioral Unit at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. She also directs consultation-liaison psychiatry services for the Rehabilitative Unit. She is an associate professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Wachtel received her undergraduate degree in Romance Languages and Literatures from Princeton University, with a major in French Language and Literature. In 1993, she graduated summa cum laude as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She received her medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD in 1998. She completed general psychiatry training at the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry in Topeka, KS, and at the University of Maryland/Sheppard Pratt psychiatry residency training program in Baltimore, where she also completed a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. She joined the Kennedy Krieger Institute in 2003 as a medical staff member and attending psychiatrist and became the medical director of the neurobehavioral unit in 2004.

Dr. Wachtel is licensed by the state of Maryland as a physician and surgeon. She is a member of the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.

...read more


  • Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Departments / Divisions



  • M.D.; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Maryland) (1998)
  • B.A.; Princeton University (New Jersey) (1993)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Wachtel’s recent research has focused largely on CHARGE syndrome, a genetic pattern of birth defects that can cause extensive medical and behavioral difficulties. She is currently studying the behavioral phenotype in CHARGE syndrome, including the review of multiple cases of children with CHARGE syndrome treated for severe behavioral disturbance, as well as a review of psychotropic medications prescribed nationally to children with CHARGE.

In addition, Dr. Wachtel is investigating the intriguing concomitance of autism and catatonia, a neurobiological condition characterized by motor, speech and behavioral abnormalities. Traditionally associated with mood and psychotic disorders, catatonic symptoms may occur in up to 17 percent of patients with autism, and necessitate rapid recognition and treatment. Dr. Wachtel is particularly interested in the role of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the resolution of catatonia in autism.

Dr. Wachtel is also pursuing -- with colleagues at Kennedy Krieger Institute -- the combined usage of psychopharmacological and behavioral treatment modalities in the resolution of severe problem behaviors, such as self-injury and aggression, in children and adults with various forms of developmental disabilities.

Patient Ratings & Comments

The Patient Rating score is an average of all responses to physician related questions on the national CG-CAHPS Medical Practice patient experience survey through Press Ganey. Responses are measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best score. Comments are also gathered from our CG-CAHPS Medical Practice Survey through Press Ganey and displayed in their entirety. Patients are de-identified for confidentiality and patient privacy.

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