30 Years of Advancements in Research


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.

Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D. - Brain and behavior research expert on mental illness
Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D.
Foundation Scientific Council Member
Alfred E. Mirsky Professor,
The Rockefeller University
1998 NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grant
2005 Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience


Next generation therapies

With support from a NARSAD Grant in 1996, 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.

Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D. - Brain & behavior expert on anxiety and addiction research
Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D.
Scientific Council Member
Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience
Chair, Department of Neuroscience
Director, Friedman Brain Institute
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

1996 Distinguished Investigator

2008 Goldman-Rakic Prizewinner

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.

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

Scientific Council Member

Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Radiology

Dorothy C. Fuqua Chair in Psychiatric Neuroimaging and Therapeutics

Emory University School of Medicine

1991 Young Investigator Grantee

1995 Independent Investigator Grantee

2002 Distinguished Investigator Grantee

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

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 NARSAD 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.

Scientific Council Member

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and of Physiology

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

1988, 1994, 2000, 2007 Distinguished Investigator Grantee

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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Frequently Asked Questions about the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

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