NARSAD Grants Advance Next Generation Therapies

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Mark George, M.D.
Mark George, M.D.

NARSAD Investigators share insights on the use of new technologies that stimulate or calm the brain in order to treat mental illness

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (formerly NARSAD) invests in all major areas of brain and behavior research to gain a better understanding and develop better treatments for mental illness.

There are three broad categories identified in our Campaign 'From Discovery to Recovery: The Decade of Brain and Behavior Research' that we believe will lead to the next breakthroughs: basic research, diagnostic tools and new technologies. Advances in new technologies lead to breakthroughs in the understanding as well as in better treatment options for brain and behavior disorders. Important NARSAD-funded new technologies were the subject of a Jan. 11 article in The Wall Street Journal, featuring NARSAD Investigators Mark George, M.D., Sarah Lisanby, M.D and Helen Mayberg, M.D.

NARSAD Young Investigator Grants played major roles in Drs. George, Lisanby and Mayberg developing several of these new technologies:

With the help of a Young Investigator grant, Dr. George developed Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a new kind of non-invasive brain stimulation as an alternative for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in treatment-resistant depression, which was approved by the FDA in 2008. In 1995, unable to get NIH funding for TMS, a NARSAD Young Investigator award allowed the work to gather important clinical information and served as "bridge" funding to set the stage for the emergence of an industry. Following the initial NARSAD Young Investigator grant, numerous NIH, Department of Defense and VA awards valued at several millions of dollars continued to allow development of TMS.

Dr. Mayberg advanced Deep Brain Stimulation in the treatment of depression with funds from a Young Investigator grant. Since that initial grant in 1991, related subsequent funding has amounted to $5.6 million or 92 times the original NARSAD grant amount.

And it was a Young Investigator grant that supported Dr. Lisanby in developing a new form of electrical brain stimulation called Magnetic Seizure Therapy (MST) to treat major depression. Since this initial grant, Dr. Lisanby has been awarded NARSAD Independent and Distinguished Investigator grants to continue this groundbreaking work. With her Distinguished Investigator grant she is concentrating on treating elderly patients with MST, who are the most common recipients of ECT treatments.

Read The Wall Street Journal article

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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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