The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to Honor Top Scientists for Outstanding Achievements in Mental Health Research

Posted: October 3, 2013

Contact: Laura Wells - - 646-681-4877

(New York, N.Y. – October 3, 2013): The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation celebrates the transformative power of neuroscience and psychiatric research to improve the lives of those with mental illness. Seven exceptional scientists will be honored at the Annual National Awards Dinner at the Pierre Hotel in New York City on Friday, October 25, 2013.

“The Foundation awards the largest group of annual prizes for outstanding mental health research achievements and they have come to be regarded as among the highest honors possible for leading scientists in the field,” said Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., Foundation President and CEO. “The prizes are selected through a peer-review process of the Foundation’s Scientific Council, a volunteer group of 147 pre-eminent mental health researchers, and two of our prizewinners have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.”

In addition to the awards for scientists, the Foundation will honor two individuals with Productive Lives Awards for their efforts, each within their respective professions, to help those with mental illness live more fulfilling and productive lives.

The 2013 Outstanding Achievement Prizewinners:

The 2013 Lieber Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research
The Lieber Prize was established in 1987 by Stephen Lieber, currently Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, and his wife, Constance Lieber, Foundation President Emerita.

Marc G. Caron, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center
Dr. Caron is the James B. Duke Professor of Cell Biology and a Professor of Medicine and of Neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center. Among his many achievements, Dr. Caron and his colleagues generated the first animal models blocking the dopamine transporter in the brain, known to be associated with schizophrenia, and went on to lead groundbreaking studies to understand its function. In one such study, he and colleagues identified a novel mode of signaling for dopamine D2 receptors, principal targets of antipsychotic medications, and his lab is now exploring how the findings can be leveraged to develop more selectively targeted and effective antipsychotics.

The 2013 Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research (two recipients)
Established in 1993 and formerly known under the successive titles the Selo Prize, Falcone Prize and Bipolar Mood Disorder Prize, the Colvin Prize was renamed in 2012 in honor of the late Oliver D. Colvin, Jr., a great benefactor of the Foundation who left the largest single contribution in the Foundation’s history.

Boris Birmaher, M.D., University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Birmaher, a leader in the study and treatment of pediatric mood and anxiety disorders, is Professor of Psychiatry and holds the Endowed Chair in Early Onset Bipolar Disease at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Birmaher has been a pioneer in the description of the course and treatment of childhood-onset bipolar disorder, leading many large sample studies with children that have provided empirical data for early intervention and better treatment of children. He has played a leading role in major studies of psychosocial and psychopharmacological interventions for these children.

Andrew A. Nierenberg, M.D., Harvard University
Dr. Nierenberg is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program as well as Associate Director of the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. His research has focused on new approaches for patients with difficult-to-treat illness and conducted large scale practical clinical trials. He helped to establish treatment-resistant depression as a legitimate field for inquiry and initiated studies of children at risk for bipolar disorder and of the co-occurrence of bipolar disorder with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. He has also conducted important studies of the major treatments of bipolar disorder, including quetiapine, lithium and atypical antipsychotics.

The Ruane Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Child and Adolescent Research
The Ruane Prize was initiated in 2000 by philanthropists Joy and William Ruane to recognize important advances in understanding and treatment of early-onset brain and behavior disorders.

Jay N. Giedd, M.D., National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Dr. Giedd is Chief of the Brain Imaging Section at the National Institute of Mental Health Child Psychiatry Branch and Adjunct Professor of Family and Reproductive Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is renowned for seminal studies in brain development that have helped explain why so many neuropsychiatric disorders emerge during adolescence. Dr. Giedd’s findings have spurred ongoing investigations around the world and influenced thinking in education, the judicial system and public policy. Dr. Giedd is also highly regarded for his capacity to communicate these and other scientific advances in a manner that is accessible and stimulating for the general public.

The Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience
The Goldman-Rakic Prize was created by Constance and Stephen Lieber in memory of Patricia Goldman-Rakic, Ph.D., a neuroscientist renowned for discoveries about the brain’s frontal lobe, after her tragic death in an automobile accident in 2003.

Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University
Dr. Deisseroth, D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, has developed two new technologies for learning about brain function that are being called “revolutionary” in their advancement of neuroscience. Both technologies have been shared and are in use at labs all over the world. The first―optogenetics―was developed with the early support of a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant and is enabling the identification of the mechanisms in the brain that give rise to depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism and other brain and behavior disorders. The second technology is called CLARITY and enables researchers for the first time to image a whole, intact brain in three dimensions and obtain a virtually transparent view of its inner structure.

The Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Prize for Innovative and Promising Schizophrenia Research (two recipients)
The Sidney R. Baer, Jr., Prize has been awarded since 2005 and is funded by the Sidney R. Baer, Jr., Foundation. This prize honors an exceptional young scientist or scientists selected by the current year’s Lieber Prizewinner.

Kafui Dzirasa M.D., Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center
Dr. Dzirasa is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Dzirasa studies genetically engineered animal models of brain disorders, applying an innovative approach of electrophysiological recording from multiple brain areas to functionally map brain circuits. His aim is to determine how genetic mutations that confer risk for neuropsychiatric illnesses in humans alter the circuits that underlie cognitive and affective symptoms.

Nikhil M. Urs, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center
Dr. Urs is a Research Associate in the Department of Neurobiology at the Duke University Medical Center working in the laboratory of Dr. Marc G. Caron, the 2013 Lieber Prizewinner. Dr. Urs has been developing animal models as uniquely powerful tools for uncovering the biochemical, cellular and circuit changes underlying schizophrenia and other brain and behavior disorders. With a particular focus on understanding the function and malfunction of the neurotransmitter dopamine, believed to be involved in schizophrenia, the ultimate goal of his research is to provide the basis for new, more selective and effective medications for the illness.

Productive Lives Awardees (two recipients):
The Productive Lives Award, which began in 2009, has honored diverse individuals who have in common the resolve and resources to help people with mental illness live more fulfilling and productive lives.

Rodolpho Cardenuto, President of SAP Americas, the largest sales region of the world’s leading enterprise applications software company, is being honored in recognition of the company’s forward-thinking program to hire people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who “think differently and spark innovation.” SAP has launched a campaign to recruit and train people with ASD as programmers and product testers, drawing on skills that are often well developed such as close attention to detail and an ability to solve complex problems. The goal is to fill 1 per cent of the company’s 64,000 positions with such recruits by the year 2020, matching the percentage of people with ASD in the general population.

Bruce Cohen, a film, television and theater producer, is being honored with a Productive Lives Award for his role in producing the 2012 film “Silver Linings Playbook,” nominated for eight Oscars, that directly addresses the challenges of living with mental illness. Mr. Cohen’s career has been distinguished by commercially successful productions that often address serious, even controversial social issues. In 1999 he won the Best Picture Oscar for producing “American Beauty” and he more recently produced the film “Milk,” nominated for Best Picture Oscar in 2008 that told the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office, who was assassinated in 1978.

About the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (formerly known as NARSAD or the 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 over $300 million in its NARSAD Research Grants to more than 3,700 scientists around the world. Research projects are selected by the Foundation’s Scientific Council comprised of 147 leading experts across disciplines in brain and behavior research. Funded through private contributions, the Foundation invests 100% of donor contributions for research directly into NARSAD Grants.

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