30 Years of Advancements in Research

Foundation Highlight

Top 10 Advancements and Breakthroughs

Foundation Highlight

15 Published Research Findings

Next generation therapies

Dr. Zarate and colleagues gave a single dose of ketamine to 36 treatment-resistant patients with bipolar disorder. The drug, experimental in this application, worked remarkably well, reducing anhedonia —feelings of apathy and inability to enjoy oneself—within 40 minutes. The effect lasted up to two weeks and did not correlate with the status of other depressive symptoms. There is no approved treatment for anhedonia, which is also common in schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, drug addiction and mood and anxiety disorders.

Carlos A. Zarate, M.D. - Brain & Behavior Research Expert on Depression
Carlos A. Zarate, Jr., M.D.

Chief, Experimental Therapeutics & Pathophysiology Branch and Section on the Neurobiology and Treatment of Mood Disorders

National Institute of Mental Health

1996 Young Investigator

2005 Independent Investigator Grantee

2011 Bipolar Mood Disorders Award Prizewinner (Colvin Prize)

Carlos A. Zarate, M.D., a NARSAD Independent Investigator Grantee (2005), has pioneered revolutionary studies that have led to novel treatments for mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder that begin working much faster than previous options. Dr. Zarate is Chief of Experimental Therapeutics of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University. With a strong focus on the pathophysiology of severe mental illnesses, his goal is to develop better treatments particularly for patients living with depression, bipolar disorder and/or other mood disorders. His research into a drug called Ketamine has resulted in rapid-acting depression treatments that work within hours and last 3-5 days or more. Because of the speed at which this drug reacts within the body and the duration of its effects, it is possible that emergency room doctors may have a possible treatment for those suffering from depression and acute suicidality.

“For me it’s an exciting time to be a researcher. We didn’t have much of these technologies even a decade ago and now we have all these options and possibilities. And that will definitely, and it has, led to an increased understanding of what are the causes of the illness, maybe what are potentially promising targets to develop better treatments. These things we didn’t have in recent past.”

Dr. Zarate was recognized for this discovery and his career of work at the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation National Awards Dinner in New York City in October 2011 with the Bipolar Mood Disorder Outstanding Achievement Prize (renamed the Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research in 2012).

Basic Research

In 2013, NARSAD Grantee Kirsty Spalding, Ph.D., and team at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, used an innovative methodology to identify the “birth date” of neurons in deceased human brains.

Kirsty Spalding, Ph.D., expert on brain research and brain plasticity
Kirsty Spalding, Ph.D.
Karolinska Institutet

2007 NARSAD Grantee

Diagnostic / Early intervention

NARSAD Grantee Andrew Miller, M.D., is the senior author of a new study that demonstrates improvements in symptoms of depression in patients with high inflammation levels. The study was published in the online version of Archives of General Psychiatry on September 3, 2012.

Andrew Miller, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine
Andrew Miller, M.D.

2011

New technologies

Hongjun Song, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, is intrigued about niches in a brain structure called the hippocampus where stem cells live and can give rise to new neurons, a process called neurogenesis. With the support of a 2008 NARSAD Independent Investigator Grant, Dr.

Hongjun Song, Ph.D. - Brain & behavior research expert on schizophrenia
Hongjun Song, Ph.D.
John Hopkins School of Medicine

2008 NARSAD Grantee

2011

In 2011, the organization rebranded itself, becoming the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to help better explain the breadth of research funding we cover beyond schizophrenia and depression.

2008

Basic Research

From Breakthroughs, 2010

The field of schizophrenia genetics is booming. Roughly every other day, a scientific paper is published linking genetic mutations with the disease. A 2008 study funded partly by NARSAD examined 1,179 research papers appearing on the subject through 2007. These papers cumulatively reported 3,608 different gene variations with possible associations to schizophrenia. The variations involved 516 different genes.

Mary-Claire King, Ph.D. - Brain and behavior research expert on schizophrenia
Mary-Claire King, Ph.D.

Scientific Council Member

American Cancer Society Professor

Professor, Medical Genetics

Professor, Genome Sciences

Adjunct Professor, Epidemiology, Department of Medicine and the Department of Genome Sciences

University of Washington-Seattle

2006 Distinguished Investigator Grantee

Mary-Claire King was the first to prove that breast cancer is inherited in some families as the result of mutations in the gene that she named BRCA1. In addition to inherited breast and ovarian cancer, her research interests include the genetic basis of schizophrenia and human genetic diversity and evolution. She also pioneered the use of DNA sequencing for human rights investigations, developing the approach of sequencing mitochondrial DNA preserved in human remains, then applying this method to the identification of kidnapped children in Argentina and subsequently to cases of human rights violations on six continents.

Dr. King received her Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California at Berkeley, where her dissertation in 1973 demonstrated that humans and chimpanzees are 99% genetically identical. Dr. King has served on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health and the National Commission on Breast Cancer of the President’s Cancer Panel.

2006

Next generation therapies

Carlos A. Zarate, M.D. - Brain & Behavior Research Expert on Depression
Carlos A. Zarate, Jr., M.D.

Chief, Experimental Therapeutics & Pathophysiology Branch and Section on the Neurobiology and Treatment of Mood Disorders

National Institute of Mental Health

1996 Young Investigator

2005 Independent Investigator Grantee

2011 Bipolar Mood Disorders Award Prizewinner (Colvin Prize)

Carlos A. Zarate, M.D., a NARSAD Independent Investigator Grantee (2005), has pioneered revolutionary studies that have led to novel treatments for mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder that begin working much faster than previous options. Dr. Zarate is Chief of Experimental Therapeutics of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University. With a strong focus on the pathophysiology of severe mental illnesses, his goal is to develop better treatments particularly for patients living with depression, bipolar disorder and/or other mood disorders. His research into a drug called Ketamine has resulted in rapid-acting depression treatments that work within hours and last 3-5 days or more. Because of the speed at which this drug reacts within the body and the duration of its effects, it is possible that emergency room doctors may have a possible treatment for those suffering from depression and acute suicidality.

“For me it’s an exciting time to be a researcher. We didn’t have much of these technologies even a decade ago and now we have all these options and possibilities. And that will definitely, and it has, led to an increased understanding of what are the causes of the illness, maybe what are potentially promising targets to develop better treatments. These things we didn’t have in recent past.”

Dr. Zarate was recognized for this discovery and his career of work at the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation National Awards Dinner in New York City in October 2011 with the Bipolar Mood Disorder Outstanding Achievement Prize (renamed the Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research in 2012).

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The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is a global nonprofit organization focused on improving the understanding, prevention and treatment of psychiatric and mental illnesses.

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Beginning in 1987, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation was providing seed money to neuroscientists to invest in “out of the box” research that the government and other sources were unwilling to fund. Today, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is still the leading, private philanthropy in the world in this space.

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