Our Impact:
30 Years of Advancements in Research


New technologies

In 1998, Yvette Sheline, M.D. received a Young Investigator Grant for a project titled “Affect Induced Activation of the Amygdala in Major Depression.” The results of this project, published in 2001, demonstrated that antidepressants correct abnormal brain function by reducing limbic over-activation and prefrontal cortex under-activation to alleviate symptoms of depression.

Yvette I. Sheline, M.D.
Yvette I. Sheline, M.D.

McLure Professor Of Psychiatry And Behavioral Research

Director, Center for Neuromodulation in Depression and Stress (CNDS)

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Scientific Council Member (Joined 2013)

2005, 2002 Independent Investigator Grants

1998 Young Investigator Grant

Dr. Yvette Sheline is known for her pioneering studies of hippocampal volume loss in major depression and the moderating effects of antidepressant treatment, work widely cited in psychiatric literature. Her research has also integrated structural/functional neuroimaging with depression course, neuropsychological correlates, and treatment outcomes. She seeks to determine how depression affects the brain using neuroimaging techniques, and to understand how stress produces functional dysregulation. Dr. Sheline investigates treatment effects of antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy on emotion-induced fMRI activity in PTSD and depression; longitudinal effects of treatment on neuropsychological and brain structural variables in late-life depression; and modifiers of brain amyloid binding in normal aging and preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn, Dr. Sheline was Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Center for Depression Stress and Neuroimaging at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.


Basic Research

In 2000, Foundation Distinguished Investigator Grantees, Paul Greengard, Ph.D., and Eric R. Kandel, M.D., were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their important contributions to understanding the molecular changes in the brain that underlie memory and mood. Dr. Kandel’s research has focused on what happens in the brain when memories are formed, while Dr. Greengard’s research focuses on what happens inside a neuron after a signal is received.

Eric R. Kandel, M.D.
Eric R. Kandel, M.D.

University Professor

Fred Kavli Professor and Director

Kavli Institute for Brain Science

Senior Investigator

Columbia University / Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Scientific Council Member (Joined 1998)

2014 Productive Lives Award

2005, 2000, 1995 Distinguished Investigator Grant

2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine


Basic Research

In 1998, Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D., received NARSAD Grant funding to support his quest to understand what happens when stress impacts and seems to “damage” the brain. While his research confirmed that stress does impact the brain and can cause shrinkage in the hippocampus region, for example, he also found that the impact is not necessarily permanent “damage.” He discovered the brain’s inherent capacity to adapt and remodel its architecture. His groundbreaking work effectively established what is now known as “neuroplasticity” in the field.

Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D. - Brain and behavior research expert on mental illness
Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D.

Alfred E. Mirsky Professor

Head, Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology

The Rockefeller University

Scientific Council Member (Joined 2002)

2005 Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience

1998 Distinguished Investigator Grant

Dr. McEwen’s research has contributed significantly to elucidating the impact of stress and sex hormones on the brain’s chemistry and structure. Dr. McEwen’s emphasis is on the mechanisms underlying adaptive structural plasticity. Estrogens and androgens induce new synaptic connections in the brain. They also modulate, for better or worse, damage from stroke, head trauma and seizure, as well as age-related changes in brain function. In studying both stress and sex hormones as regulators of structural plasticity in the adult brain, Dr. McEwen and his team examine sex differences and how they develop, along with the influence of early life experiences, in affecting learning, memory and predisposition towards disease.

Dr. McEwen was an assistant professor at Rockefeller in 1966 and was named Alfred E. Mirsky Professor in 1999.


Next generation therapies

With support from a 1996 Foundation Grant, Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues identified a novel transcription factor that determines the long-lasting consequences of stress and of several classes of antipsychotic medications on the brain. Transcription factors are proteins that control which genes are turned on or off in the genome. The team found that first and second generation antipsychotic medications induce the transcription factor, DeltaFosB, in several brain regions including regions of the prefrontal cortex.

Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D. - Brain & behavior expert on anxiety and addiction research
Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D.

Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience

Chair, Department of Neuroscience

Director, Friedman Brain Institute

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Scientific Council Member (Joined 1997)

2009 Falcone Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Affective Disorders Research (Colvin Prize)

2008 Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience Research

1996 Distinguished Investigator Grant

Dr. Nestler studies the molecular basis of addiction and depression in animal models, focusing on the brain pathways that regulate responses to natural rewards such as food, sex and social interaction. His research has established that drug- and stress-induced changes in genetic transcription factors and chromatin remodeling mechanisms in reward pathways mediate long-lived behavioral changes relevant to addiction and depression.

Before moving to Mount Sinai, Dr. Nestler was Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and the Director of the Abraham Ribicoff Research Facilities and the Division of Molecular Psychiatry at Yale.


New technologies

In 1991, Foundation Scientific Council Member, Helen Mayberg, M.D., pioneered the use of positron emission tomography (PET) brain scanning technology to study the neurology of depression. With the support of a Young Investigator Grant, her first grant funding received, she was able to identify common brain networks across different depression subtypes. She went on to develop an important model of depression based on her findings and opened a new frontier in brain research.

Helen Mayberg, M.D.
Helen Mayberg, M.D.

Senior Faculty Neurosurgery, Neurology, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Scientific Council Member (Joined 2004)

2007 Falcone Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Affective Disorders Research (Colvin Prize)

2002 Distinguished Investigator Grant

1995 Independent Investigator Grant

1991 Young Investigator Grant

Dr. Mayberg leads a multidisciplinary research program committed to defining the “neurology of depression.” Her imaging studies over the past 20 years have systematically examined functional abnormalities characterizing the disorder, as well as neural mechanisms mediating antidepressant response to various evidence-based treatments. The goal of her studies is to identify neurobiological markers predicting treatment response and optimized treatment selection. Her long-term interest in neural network models of mood regulation in health and disease led to the development of a new intervention for treatment-resistant patients using Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a study initiated at the University of Toronto and now continuing at Emory.

Dr. Mayberg received a B.A. in psychobiology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an M.D. degree from the University of Southern California School of Medicine.


Next generation therapies

In our second year of grant-giving, 1988, Dr. Herbert Meltzer received a Distinguished Investigator Grant to test his idea that clozapine might be a good option as a “second generation” antipsychotic medication in patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Clozapine was approved for use in patients with resistant schizophrenia in 1989 by the FDA and led to the development of a new class of “atypical” antipsychotics that effectively treat millions of patients today.

Herbert Y. Meltzer, M.D. discovers clozapine works for treatment-resistant schizophrenia patients and to help reduce suicide
Herbert Y. Meltzer, M.D.

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and of Physiology

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Scientific Council Member (Founding Member)

2007, 2000, 1994, 1988 Distinguished Investigator Grant

1992 Lieber Prizewinner for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research

Dr. Meltzer directs a multifaceted research program in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder which is devoted to developing more effective treatments. He is one of a few clinical researchers also heavily engaged in basic research. He is particularly renowned for having been the principal investigator of the seminal trials that led to the approval of clozapine for treatment-resistant schizophrenia (1988) and patients who are at high risk for suicide (2003). He also is credited with articulating the theory that atypical antipsychotics such as clozapine owe much of their advantage over typical drugs to the balance between serotonin and dopamine receptor blockade (1989). Dr. Meltzer is an active clinician who directs the clinical trial research effort at mental health centers in Chicago and Cleveland.

Prior to joining Northwestern, Dr. Meltzer taught at Vanderbilt University, where he also directed the psychosis program.


Foundation Highlight

Started by a small group of people with loved ones living with mental illness determined to increase the pace of research to find the causes, better treatments and cures for mental illnesses.


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We Are

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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Meet the people who make up the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Our staff of experts, passionate Board of Directors, and Scientific Council which includes Nobel prize winners and chairs of psychiatric departments around the world.

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We take our responsibility to our donors seriously and believe that our financial operations must be transparent. We're proud to say that 100% of your contribution for research is invested directly in research grants.

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