Women Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness Luncheon Highlights Depression and Schizophrenia Research and Raised More Than a Quarter-Million Dollars

Posted: April 28, 2017

Hearst’s Ellen Levine Interviews Pioneering Mental Health Researchers Dr. Dolores Malaspina and Dr. Myrna Weissman at Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Women’s Luncheon

NEW YORK CITY (April 28, 2017)-- Ellen Levine, a longtime Hearst editor and innovator, led a wide-ranging conversation with pioneering mental health researchers Dolores Malaspina, M.D. (schizophrenia) and Myrna Weissman, Ph.D. (mood and anxiety disorders) before a sold-out audience of 300 at the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation’s third “Women Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness” luncheon at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan.

The event, co-chaired by board members Suzanne Golden, Carole Mallement and Barbara Streicker raised more than $250,000 to help the Foundation—the top non-governmental funder of mental health research grants—to support its Young Investigator Research program and accomplish its mission to alleviate the suffering caused by mental illness by funding research that will lead to better diagnosis and treatments.

“Our luncheon, which featured a conversation between Ellen Levine, who has done so much to help the public understand mental illness, and Drs. Malaspina and Weissman, pioneering researchers in mental health, showcases the vital collaboration between generous donors and scientists that has enabled the Foundation to fund the most innovative research in neuroscience and psychiatry,” says Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., President and CEO of the Foundation, who notes that 100 percent of every dollar raised for research—all from private donations—goes to support research grants.

“One of the challenges we’re seeing is the decrease in government funding for research, especially for young scientists,” he adds. “The proposed cuts to the NIH put us at risk of losing an entire generation of young scientists, so support from the private sector is more important than ever before.”

“Dr. Weissman and Dr. Malaspina are pioneers and role models, who have spent decades trying to understand the causes and risk factors for depression, schizophrenia and psychosis,” says Ms. Levine.  “By speaking here, they are helping educate the public, raise awareness and eliminate the stigma around mental illness that keeps so many people suffering in silence instead of seeking help. Their findings will help millions of people who suffer from the effects of these devastating conditions.”

Dr. Malaspina, the Anita & Joseph Steckler Professor of Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry, former chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center, and is the co-host of a weekly radio show on Psychiatry for the Sirius/XM satellite radio channel for "Doctor Radio.” Dr. Malaspina has spent her career working to understand schizophrenia, which afflicts her younger sister. Her groundbreaking work found that a quarter of all people living with schizophrenia may owe their symptoms to spontaneous mutations in paternal sperm, which are more likely to occur in older fathers. Still a practicing clinician, Dr. Malaspina has received two Young Investigator Grants, as well as Independent and Distinguished Investigator Grants from the Foundation.

Dr. Weissman, the Diane Goldman Kemper Family Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and Chief of the Division of Epidemiology at New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), specializes in understanding rates and risks of mood and anxiety disorders, and is working to bring psychiatric epidemiology closer to translational studies in neuroscience and genetics. For more than 30 years, she has directed a three-generation study of families at risk for depression. She also directs a study to determine the impact of maternal remission from depression on children and was one of the developers of Interpersonal Psychotherapy, an evidence-based treatment for depression. Dr. Weissman is a member of the Foundation’s Scientific Council, a three time Foundation Distinguished Investigator Grantee, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Levine made publishing history in October 1994 as the first woman to be named editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping since the magazine was founded in 1885. She was instrumental in launching new titles at Hearst Magazines, including O, The Oprah Magazine, the most successful magazine launch ever. In May 2006, Levine was appointed editorial director at Hearst Magazines and she is now working across several divisions of the corporation. In addition to many other awards, Levine received the first annual Media Award by the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology for the numerous articles on mental illness she published in Good Housekeeping.

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About the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

For the past 30 years the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has been committed to alleviating the suffering of mental illness by awarding grants that lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research. The Foundation funds the most innovative ideas in neuroscience and psychiatry to better understand the causes and develop new ways to treat brain and behavior disorders. These disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Since 1987, the Foundation has awarded more than $365 million to fund more than 5,000 grants to more than 4,000 leading scientists around the world. This has led to over $3.5 billion in additional funding for these scientists. The Foundation is also dedicated to educating the public about mental health and the importance of research, including the impact that new discoveries have on improving the lives of those with mental illness, which will ultimately enable people to live full, happy and productive lives. For more information, visit www.bbrfoundation.org.