Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to Honor Seven Young Mental Health Researchers

Posted: July 11, 2013

Online Briefing for Media on Cutting-Edge Research by the Honorees, July 23, 2013, 1-2 p.m.

Klerman & Freedman Prizes Recognize Exceptional Research by

Foundation NARSAD Young Investigator Grantees

(Metro New York City / Great Neck, NY – July 11, 2013) Seven young scientists will be recognized by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation at its presentation of the Annual Klerman and Freedman Prizes on Friday July 26, 2013 at Le Parker Meriden Hotel, New York, NY. These prizes pay tribute to Drs. Gerald L. Klerman and Daniel X. Freedman, whose legacies as researchers, teachers, physicians and administrators have indelibly influenced neuropsychiatry. As a prelude to the Awards, the researchers will participate in an online (login or phone in) briefing and Q&A for the media hosted by Foundation Pres. & CEO Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 from 1-2 p.m. The briefing will provide highlights from the honorees’ body of research and preview their cutting-edge preliminary findings prior to publication, including some from studies supported in part by Brain & Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Grants. Media can RSVP for the briefing by emailing for participant instructions. 

Prizewinners were selected by committees of the Foundation Scientific Council, a volunteer group of 138 distinguished scientists across brain and behavior research disciplines. Herbert Pardes, M.D., Council President said, “These Brain & Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Young Investigator Grantees selected as prizewinners stand out in the field for remarkable innovation in their contributions to mental health research. Their exceptional work builds on current knowledge, offering great promise in our quest to find solutions for the mental illnesses that continue to create so much suffering. ”

2013 Klerman Prizewinner for Exceptional Clinical Research

The Klerman Prize was established in 1994 by Myrna Weissman, Ph.D., in memory of her late husband, Gerald Klerman, M.D.

James McPartland, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology and Director of the Developmental Disabilities Clinic, Yale University, will be honored as the 2013 Klerman Prizewinner for his discovery of a novel electrophysiological “marker” of eye contact that predicts social ability in children and is disrupted in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)—findings made through research initiated with his 2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant. The new marker may enable early intervention techniques in very young children to slow or possibly prevent progression of ASD.

Freedman Prizewinner for Exceptional Basic Research

The Freedman Prize was established in 1998 in honor of the late Daniel X. Freedman, M.D., a founding member of the Foundation Scientific Council.

Garret D. Stuber, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, Cell Biology and Physiology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, will be honored as the 2013 Freedman Prizewinner for his research to dissect the role of dopamine and non-dopamine neurons in the midbrain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in the transmission of messages between nerve cells, and midbrain dopamine neurons have been thought to play a major role in regulating behavioral responses in addiction, anxiety, depression and other neuropsychiatric illnesses. Dr. Stuber used his 2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant to learn more about the role of dopamine neurons in mediating behaviors that might lead to new treatment targets. To make their findings, Stuber’s team applied a variety of cutting-edge technologies, including optogenetics (invented by Scientific Council member and 2005 NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D.).

The following NARSAD Young Investigator Grantees will receive 2013 Klerman Prize Honorable Mentions.

Andrea Danese, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, is being recognized for findings from research supported in part by his 2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant. His study showed that maltreated children are at heightened risk for treatment-resistant depression, and that inflammation contributes to the development of depression among this group. He discovered immune and metabolic abnormalities in individuals with a history of childhood maltreatment. These often overlooked abnormalities are now proving promising new targets for treatment of difficult-to-treat cases of affective and psychotic disorders.

Carmen Andreescu, M.D., Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, is being honored for identifying neural markers of treatment response in the highly-prevalent yet rarely-treated late-life generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). In her 2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant project, Dr. Andreescu administered the antidepressant citalopram (Celexa®) to a group of previously untreated elderly GAD patients that led to significant changes in the neural networks involved in emotion regulation.

Daniel J. Mueller, M.D., Ph.D., Head of the Pharmacogenetics Research Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH); Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, is being recognized for his work to develop genetically-based algorithms in patients to optimize individual treatment plans (personalized medicine). In his 2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant project, Dr. Mueller and his team identified important gene variants associated with excessive weight gain induced by antipsychotic medications, which can lead to symptoms that shorten life span. 

The following two NARSAD Young Investigator Grantees will receive 2013 Freedman Prize Honorable Mentions:

David J. Foster, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Neuroscience,  Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is being recognized for his work, and the innovative tools he developed, to study the neural basis of memory. Nerve cells of the hippocampus region in the brain play important roles in the formation of memory and their dysfunction has been linked to disorders such as schizophrenia. Dr. Foster combined advanced electrophysiological, computational and behavioral approaches in his NARSAD Grant-supported project to investigate the coordinated activity of hippocampal neurons in mouse models of mental illnesses. The tools developed by his team helped them record and examine the simultaneous activity in large groups of hippocampal neurons in normally behaving mice.

Hiroki Taniguchi, Ph.D., Research Group Leader, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, is being recognized for research toward understanding what causes the dysfunction in the GABAergic (a neurotransmitter) system that has been implicated in schizophrenia and autism. Unraveling the development and function of different types of GABAergic neurons is critical to understanding how the normal brain works and how it loses normal functions in disease states. Taniguchi and his colleagues developed the first mouse-genetic model to identify spatial and temporal origins of GABAergic neurons called “chandelier cells,” as well as strategies to study the life cycle of these cells in normal and abnormal brains.

About the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation,

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (formerly “NARSAD,” National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) raises funds to invest in cutting-edge research projects to understand, treat and ultimately prevent and cure mental illness. Since 1987, the Foundation has awarded nearly $300 million in NARSAD Research Grants to more than 3,300 scientists around the world. The Foundation invests 100% of donor contributions for research directly into NARSAD Research Grants.