Claudio O. Toppelberg, MD
Director of Continuing Education & Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Toppelberg is a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. He is a member of the research committee, Harvard Department of Psychiatry, and director of continuing education and the Harvard Medical School-accredited Child Mental Health Forum at the Baker Center.
Dr. Toppelberg is a practicing psychiatrist with expertise in Autism Spectrum Disorder and other neurodevelopmental disabilities and a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (-2027), member Board of The American Board of Medical Specialties. He is the Psychiatrist-in-Chief for the New England Center for Children, a large, internationally recognized residential and day school for children, adolescents and young adults with ASD, developmental disabilities and severe behaviors and teaching site for Boston Children's Hospital trainees. In this role, he works closely with ABA clinical and educational staff, health services and Boston Children's Hospital pediatric specialists in neurology, GI, dentistry and others.
Major behavioral problems in ASD and Intellectual Disability include irritability and emotional dysregulation, and related impulsivity, hyperactivity, aggression, self-injurious behavior, destructive behavior, anxious perseveration, obsessive-compulsive rituals, and sleep problems. Medical comorbidities, such as seizures, GI problems and genetic syndromes, are also common.
Previously, he was the director of psychiatry for the Manville School a highly reputed therapeutic day school at the Baker Center.
Dr. Toppelberg is a seasoned psychopharmacologist and psychotherapist, who regularly conducts treatment of adults, children and adolescents and comprehensive child diagnostic psychiatric evaluations for school purposes and clinical clarification. Dr. Toppelberg has been asked to give expert opinions on court-related matters in areas of his clinical and research expertise.
In terms of his research in developmental psychopathology, his work has two foci:
1.) the relations of language, neurocognitive, and emotional/ behavioral development,
2.) the development of immigrant children
His work has been published in prominent peer-reviewed publications (see here), including the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Journal of Child Language, Harvard Review of Psychiatry, Child Development, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
He has received several national and Harvard awards and funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, including an R01 grant supplement and a prestigious five-year Scientist Development Award (K01) for New Minority Faculty, and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Dr. Toppelberg was an expert reviewer on the "Practice Parameters for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder" by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
He was a member of the National Academy of Medicine (IOM) and National Academy of Sciences Consensus Committee on Dual Language Learners, co-author of the resulting book published by the National Academies Press, and leading co-author of its chapters on Early Care and Education, and Home Visiting programs, and children with Disabilities.
Dr. Toppelberg graduated with a Diploma of Honor (magna cum laude) from the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine. Prior to immigrating to the United States in 1990, he trained as a psychiatrist in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and after his training he founded and directed a residency training program in psychiatry and, subsequently, an adolescent psychiatry department with inpatient and outpatient services. Once in Boston, he completed his clinical training at two Harvard Medical School-affiliated programs, (1) in general psychiatry at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and VA Boston Health Care system (where he was the Administrative Chief Resident), and (2) in child and adolescent psychiatry at Cambridge Hospital. After training, he stayed on staff at Cambridge Hospital as the director of the Latino child psychiatry services.
In terms of his career as a scientist, he completed two NRSA research fellowships funded by the National Institutes of Health--the American Psychiatric Association's PMRTP and Harvard's Clinical Research Training Program-- under the mentorship of Kerim Munir, MD, DSc, Catherine Snow, PhD, and Stuart Hauser, MD, PhD. Following his research interests, in 1999 he moved to the Baker Center to work closely with Dr. Hauser, a renowned Harvard professor of psychiatry and developmental psychologist who was the president of the Center at the time.
Dr. Toppelberg is a member of several medical and scientific societies, including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Society of Research in Child Development, the New England Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Medical Association.