Dr. Krystal on the Vital Role of NARSAD Grants

John H. Krystal, M.D., Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University
John H. Krystal, M.D.

As a member of the NARSAD Scientific Council, Dr. John H. Krystal knows the organization intimately. But he first came to know it in the way that thousands of other scientists have over a quarter-century – as one whose career in research was given a key boost by a NARSAD grant.

NARSAD is the most remarkable organization that I’ve ever interacted with,” Dr. Krystal says. “It has had such a profound impact on not only my career, but on generations of young investigators. NARSAD is an organization that has been a catalyst to the development of young scientists and through that mechanism has fueled innovation in psychiatry since its inception.

“In my own experience, I was able to undertake studies that I couldn’t have otherwise initiated because they were very high-risk – and, I hoped, high-gain – studies.

“NARSAD grants provided a chance to build on preliminary data so that we were able to carry out other studies to move the work forward. It’s now pretty much at the point where in order to initiate a career in psychiatry and neurobiology that’s really innovative, you need a NARSAD Young Investigator award. And at a time when funding rates are very low and our young investigators as a result have become very vulnerable, NARSAD is more important now than it’s ever been to sustaining the vitality of the research pipeline.

“I’ve personally had many students get funded, and now as chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale, I count on the continued support of NARSAD for our young investigators to help supplement the resources we have in the department. There’s nothing more important for the vitality and for the progress in science than to sustain these young investigators who invariably are developing new technologies and approaches to the field.”

Dr. Krystal makes clear that his remarks about NARSAD are connected directly to the themes about research he discusses in the accompanying story. “We began our discussion by talking about the evolution of psychiatry and why this is such an exciting time. We are just beginning to get insights into how what’s happening in the brain and what’s happening in the body are connected – there is no divide between mind and body. Psychiatric illnesses have biological causes. This opens up all kinds of new and exciting possibilities.

“Because there are so many opportunities to make a big difference, I feel it is so important that we not lose this generation of young investigators coming up in the ranks today, and we enable them to pick up the baton from their mentors and move this field forward into the future.

I am certain NARSAD Grants are going to play an important role in the process.”