Using Rapid-Acting Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Using Rapid-Acting Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression

There is a widely acknowledged need for new, effective antidepressant treatments. Past research has demonstrated that a form of FDA-approved non-invasive brain stimulation called rTMS could be optimized to better treat depression as well as other psychiatric disorders. Our team has tested the hypothesis that the effectiveness of rTMS could be enhanced with a new treatment protocol involving multiple non-invasive brain-stimulation sessions at spaced intervals throughout the day delivered over the course of five consecutive days, providing patients with significantly more total stimulation, and targeted individually in each patient based on brain scans obtained prior to the start of treatments. We recently completed a randomized controlled trial to determine the antidepressant response of this novel protocol, called SAINT. As I will report in the webinar, we found that it had a profound and rapid effect in patients with treatment-resistant depression.

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Presented by 
Nolan R. Williams, M.D.
Nolan R. Williams, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Stanford University Medical Center

2019 Klerman Prize for Exceptional Clinical Research

2018, 2016 Young Investigator Grant


Dr. Williams is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Director of the Stanford Brain Stimulation Lab. Dr. Williams has a broad background in neuropsychiatry and is double board-certified in both neurology and psychiatry. In addition, he has specific training and clinical expertise in the development of brain stimulation methodologies under Mark George, MD. Themes of his work include (a) examining the use of spaced learning theory in the application of neurostimulation techniques, (b) development and mechanistic understanding of rapid-acting antidepressants, and (c) identifying objective biomarkers that predict neuromodulation responses in treatment-resistant neuropsychiatric conditions. He has published papers in high impact peer-reviewed journals including Brain, American Journal of Psychiatry, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He has also contributed to two reviews related to novel therapeutics for neuropsychiatric conditions that have been published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and Current Opinion in Neurobiology, which are both highly cited. Results from his studies have gained widespread attention in journals such as Science and New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch as well as in the popular press and have been featured in various news sources including Time, Smithsonian, and Newsweek. Dr. Williams received two NARSAD Young Investigator Awards in 2016 and 2018 along with the 2019 Gerald R. Klerman Award. Dr. Williams received the National Institute of Mental Health Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists in 2020.

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.