Scientific Council Member Leads Breakthrough Study Identifying Possible Depression Treatment

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Robert Malenka, M.D, Ph.D., Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and expert in Depression
Robert Malenka, M.D, Ph.D.

A recently published study led by Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council Member Robert Malenka, M.D, Ph.D. identifies a new molecular mechanism responsible for anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure, that is one of the most crippling symptoms of depression. Although six million Americans will suffer a major depressive episode in their lifetimes, for as many as 50 percent of those who are prescribed medications, the medications do not effectively treat their symptoms.   

Dr. Malenka is Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and is the senior author of the study published in the July 12th edition of Nature. The researchers found that the hormone melanocortin, which plays a key role in the reward circuit of the brain, may play a role in depression-related syndromes. “This is the first study to suggest that we should look at the role of melanocortin in depression-related syndromes,” commented Scientific Council Member Eric Nestler, M.D, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Neuroscience and Director of the Friedman Brain Institute at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  

Dr. Malenka, who was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011, received the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience in 2010 and has received three NARSAD Grants since 1990.

Read more about this study related to depression symptoms

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Please note that researchers cannot give specific recommendations or advice about treatment; diagnosis and treatment are complex and highly individualized processes that require comprehensive face-to- face assessment. Please visit our "Ask an Expert" section to see a list of Q & A with NARSAD Grantees.
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