Chief, Experimental Therapeutics & Pathophysiology Branch and Section on the Neurobiology and Treatment of Mood Disorders
30 Years of Advancements in Research
2017 Research Highlights
2016 Research Highlights
We are pleased to present you with the Top 10 Advancements and Breakthroughs by Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Grantees in 2016.
This Top 10 list illustrates some of the major research achievements of our grantees over the past year.
2015 Research Highlights
We would like to share with you 15 Published Research Findings in 2015 featuring our NARSAD Grantees. Five of these publications were also selected by the New England Journal of Medicine’s Journal Watch Psychiatry Top Stories of 2015.
2014 Research Highlights
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, Jr., M.D.
2011 Bipolar Mood Disorders Award Prizewinner (Colvin Prize)
2005 Independent Investigator Grant
1996 Young Investigator Grant
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).
2013 Research Highlights
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. They found a way to “carbon date” neurons by testing brain specimens from deceased adult humans who lived through the middle of the last century, during a period of above-ground nuclear bomb testing and elevated atmospheric levels of carbon-14. The researchers were able to quantify the amount of carbon-14 stamped into DNA when a new neuron is born, essentially “carbon dating” the neurons.
Kirsty Spalding, Ph.D.
2007 Young Investigator Grant
2012 Research Highlights
Diagnostic / Early intervention
Foundation Grantee Andrew Miller, M.D., is the senior author of a 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 H. Miller, M.D.
William P. Timmie Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Vice Chair of Research, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Director, Behavioral Immunology Program
co-Leader, Cancer Prevention and Control, Winship Cancer Institute
1997 Independent Investigator Grant
Dr. Miller is an internationally recognized leader in the area of brain-immune interactions as they relate to depression in medically healthy as well as medically ill patients including patients with cancer. His work has demonstrated that during immune activation, inflammatory cytokines can access the brain and interact with the metabolism of dopamine and glutamate, while altering neurocircuits in the brain relevant to motivation and reward as well as anxiety and alarm. Dr. Miller has also studied the impact of cytokines on neuroendocrine regulation and sleep including the study of the specific signal transduction pathways involved. Additionally, Dr. Miller and his group conducted the first clinical trial examining the efficacy of a cytokine antagonist for the treatment of depression, providing a template for current clinical trials using immunotherapeutic strategies to treat mood disorders. Learn more.
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. Song and team developed a genetic strategy for tracing the life cycle of precursor cells in the brain. What they found was that any single stem cell is capable of both replacing itself and of giving rise to both neurons and glia.
Hongjun Song, Ph.D.
2008 NARSAD Grantee
2011 Research Highlights
An Impressive Year of Progress: from establishing early intervention techniques and working toward diagnostic tools, to proving the effectiveness of next generation therapies, to advancing basic research and our understanding of how the brain functions and can malfunction, and continuing to refine the use of new technologies – this highlight of NARSAD-Grant funded discoveries in 2011 demonstrates how Foundation-funded research spans across research disciplines to better understand and treat all mental illness.
Learn More About the Foundation
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is a global nonprofit organization focused on improving the understanding, prevention and treatment of psychiatric and mental illnesses.
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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