Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Honors Six Mental Health Researchers

Posted: August 3, 2020

Klerman & Freedman Prizes Awarded for Advancing Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychiatric Illness

NEW YORK (August 3, 2020) – The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation today announced the six winners of its 2020 Klerman and Freedman Prizes, recognizing exceptional clinical and basic research in mental illness. The prizes are awarded annually to honor outstanding scientists working to advance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric illness. This year’s awardees are conducting research impacting schizophrenia, depression, addiction, child & adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry and other aspects of brain and behavior.

The prizewinners have previously received awards through the BBRF Young Investigator Grant program, which supports early-career scientists as they gather pilot data and “proof of concept” for innovative clinical and basic psychiatric research. They are selected by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council, which includes 181 prominent mental health researchers.

Dr. Herbert Pardes, President of the Foundation’s Scientific Council said, “The Klerman and Freedman prizes recognize innovative thinking and outstanding talent across the field of neuropsychiatry. Recognition for scientists early in their career helps them go on to receive additional funding and is a precursor to further accomplishments. We applaud these researchers, and we also thank BBRF’s generous donors who understand that supporting brain and behavior research will allow scientists to produce better treatments, cures, and methods of prevention for mental illness.”

“We are pleased to be able to recognize these outstanding researchers,” said Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, President & CEO of the Foundation. “Since our founding in 1987, we have awarded more than $408 million to scientists and have seen significant progress that has changed the lives of countless people living with mental illness. The important work of BBRF Young Investigators keeps us moving toward a future where all people with mental illness will be able to live full, happy, and productive lives.”

The Klerman and Freedman Prizes are named for Gerald Klerman, M.D., and Daniel Freedman, M.D., neuropsychiatry pioneers who played seminal roles as researchers, teachers, physicians and administrators.


This year six recipients of the 2020 Klerman & Freedman Awards for their outstanding work in brain and behavior research are:

2020 Klerman Prize for Exceptional Clinical Research

Ellen Lee, M.D.,
Assistant Professor in Residence of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego and Staff Psychiatrist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System

Dr. Lee’s research analyzes the impact of sleep disturbances on cardio-metabolic health, as mediated through inflammatory mechanisms. The Lee lab also examines psychosocial aging in persons with schizophrenia and in healthy aging populations. Dr. Lee has led investigations of how loneliness as well as positive psychological traits like resilience, compassion, and wisdom affect health and functioning.

2020 Freedman Prizewinner for Exceptional Basic Research

Cody Siciliano, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University.

The Siciliano Lab investigates circuits and receptors in the brain that control decision making, and how their function is altered in neuropsychiatric disorders. Disrupted decision-making processes are a hallmark of many disorders, such as depression and addiction.

2020 Klerman Prize Honorable Mention

Soonjo Hwang, M.D.,
University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine

Dr. Soonjo Hwang, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, specializes in neuroscience-oriented, mechanism-based clinical studies of children with emotional and behavioral dysregulation.  

2020 Klerman Prize Honorable Mention

Hadar Ben-Yoav, M.Sc., Ph.D.,
Department of Biomedical Engineering and Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Dr. Ben-Yoav’s research team focuses on interfacing biology with microelectronics. The current goal of the work is to develop novel biosensors to detect unique diagnostic electrical fingerprints from blood samples of schizophrenia patients that can provide crucial information about their treatment management.

2020 Freedman Prize Honorable Mention

Kevin Beier, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine, Departments of Physiology & Biophysics, Neurobiology and Behavior, Biomedical Engineering, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Beier’s goals are to engineer a suite of molecular technologies for selective modulation of neuronal plasticity at the level of the cell and, ultimately, the individual synapse, and to investigate how synaptic and circuit properties in the brain are modulated either by acute experiences or aging. This includes identifying brain networks that contribute to various forms of pathological learning, including drug addiction, depression, and anxiety.

2020 Freedman Prize Honorable Mention

Lorna A. Farrelly, Ph.D.,
a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at Nash Family Department of Neuroscience, Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr. Farrelly’s recent studies have identified a previously unknown role for the monoamine serotonin, a powerful chemical that sends signals between nerve cells in the brain, which has long been thought to play a significant role in mood regulation and other processes.

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation awards research grants to develop improved treatments, cures, and methods of prevention for mental illness. These illnesses include addiction, ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, and schizophrenia, as well as research on suicide prevention. Since 1987, the Foundation has awarded more than $408 million to fund more than 4,800 leading scientists around the world, which has led to over $4 billion in additional funding. 100% of every dollar donated for research is invested in research grants. BBRF operating expenses are covered by separate foundation grants. BBRF is the producer of the Emmy® nominated public television series Healthy Minds with Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, which aims to remove the stigma of mental illness and demonstrate that with help, there is hope.


Myrna Manners, Manners Dotson Group