Ketamine: Why Now? How? Where Do We Go from Here?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Ketamine: Why Now? How? Where Do We Go from Here?

Can the fast-acting antidepressant ketamine help people with PTSD? Scientists theorize that traumatic stress impairs the integrity of connections between nerve cells in the brain, leading to a variety of often debilitating problems, including those experienced by people with PTSD. Dr. Krystal explores the possibility of restoring damaged neural connections to provide relief for patients.

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Presented by 
John H. Krystal, M.D.
John H. Krystal, M.D.
Yale University School of Medicine

Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Professor of Translational Research and Professor of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience

Chair, Department of Psychiatry,

Chief of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Yale-New Haven Hospital

Director, Clinical Neuroscience Division, VA National Center for PTSD

Director: NIAAA Center for the Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism

Scientific Council Member (Joined 2003)

2019 Colvin Prizewinner for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research

2006, 2000 Distinguished Investigator Grant

1997 Independent Investigator Grant


Dr. John H. Krystal is a leading expert in the areas of alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizo-phrenia, and depression. His work links psychophar-macology, neuroimaging, molecular genetics, and computational neuroscience to study the neurobi-ology and treatment of these disorders. He is best known for leading the discovery of the rapid antide-pressant effects of ketamine in depressed patients.

In the 1990s, Dr. Krystal’s mentor and colleague, Dr. Dennis Charney, found reason to question the centrality of monoamines to depression. This led them to hypothesize that the signaling mechanisms employed by higher brain centers, particularly glutamate and GABA signaling, might be critical to depression and its treatment.

How could glutamate signaling be studied in people? This was the focus of Dr. Krystal’s laboratory. He developed the use of ketamine as a probe of the biology of depression, discovering its remarkably rapid and robust antidepressant effects in de-pressed patients. When Janssen Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval for the s-isomer of ketamine (esketamine), it was clear that they had created new hope for people with depression and had jumpstart-ed depression research.

Dr. Krystal is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine. He also serves in a variety of advisory and review capacities for NIAAA, NIMH, Wellcome Trust, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the Broad Institute, and the Karolinska Institutet. Currently, he is co-chair of the Neuroscience Forum (NeuroForum) of the National Academies of Scienc-es, Engineering, and Medicine, a member of the NIMH National Mental Health Advisory Council, and he edits the journal, Biological Psychiatry.

Moderated by
Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D.
Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., serves as the President & CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the largest private funder of mental health research grants. Dr. Borenstein developed the Emmy-nominated public television program “Healthy Minds,” and serves as host and executive producer of the series. The program, broadcast nationwide, is available online, and focuses on topics in psychiatry in order to educate the public, reduce stigma and offer a message of hope. Dr. Borenstein served as Editor-in-Chief of Psychiatric News, the newspaper of the American Psychiatric Association from 2012 - 2023.

Dr. Borenstein is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and serves as the Chair of the Section of Psychiatry at the Academy. He also has served as the President of the New York State Psychiatric Association. Dr. Borenstein earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard and his medical degree at New York University.